Common Struggles for First-Time Weight Loss and How to Overcome Them

Dr. Jan McBarron
3 min readJun 6, 2019


Trying to lose weight for the first time can be as daunting and scary as the numbers on the scale. You know you need to lose weight, and maybe even have a weight goal in mind. But connecting the dots to reach your goals is more challenging than you may realize.

Despite weight loss being a $68.2 billion industry, award-winning physician Dr. Jan McBarron notes there’s still a curtain of mystery surrounding the common struggles and best practices for weight loss success. Having worked with numerous patients on achieving a healthy weight and experiencing her own weight loss journey when she lost 50 pounds, she details three of the biggest issues that most people experience with their first weight loss journey:

1. They Get Discouraged Too Soon

According to Dr. Jan McBarron, your body doesn’t want to shed pounds. “When you try to lose weight, your body fights back. Even though your body will be better off if you lose weight, it still treats it as a loss, and loss can be scary.”

While you’re fighting fat, your body is doing everything it can to prevent that fat from coming off. When you start a weight loss regimen, you likely won’t see results overnight, and for many individuals, that can be discouraging. You’re doing all this work for seemingly nothing and may be inclined to give up too soon.

This not only affects your chance of losing weight, but also erases any progress you’ve made and could set you back even farther from your goals.

2. They Don’t Know Where Their Calories Come From

A big rookie mistake when starting a weight loss journey is not tracking what you’re eating, explains Dr. Jan McBarron. Many people have come to believe that counting calories doesn’t work, so they don’t do it. And it’s true that focusing solely on caloric intake isn’t enough for most people to lose weight. But it’s part of the process and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Dr. Jan McBarron stresses the importance of knowing not just how many calories you’re consuming, but also where they’re coming from. A person living on fast food and soda may consume the same number of calories as someone who eats lean meat and vegetables, but the health profile of each person will vary greatly.

“A balanced diet is the main catalyst in weight loss,” says Dr. Jan McBarron. “Exercise alone isn’t enough to make noticeable changes on the scale.”

3. They Regain the Weight They Lose

When you do finally start seeing the numbers on the scale go down, it feels like a time to celebrate. People gain confidence in their ability to lose weight and feel like they can cheat on their diet without upsetting the apple cart too much.

This false sense of security is a direct path to the bad eating habits that cause many people to gain weight in the first place. Once you break your diet once, it becomes easier to do it again and again. You’ll regain all the weight you lose, and potentially more.

How to Fight Back Against First-Time Weight Loss Struggles

No one is immune to the struggles of first-time weight loss, but Dr. Jan McBarron believes that the journey is easier with the support and guidance of a physician. “The weight loss industry is overwhelming and money hungry, and leads people down a path of least resistance, even when it doesn’t work,” she says. “The best way to set realistic goals and tailor a plan to keep the weight off is by tuning out the advertisements and seeking competent medical advice.”



Dr. Jan McBarron

Dr. Jan McBarron of Duke and the Doctor is an award winning Bariatric Medical Doctor, author and popular public speaker.