We qualitatively assessed how life stressors affected African American women's participation in a weight reduction program. A sample of 9 women, who completed a behavioral lifestyle intervention, participated in individual, structured, in-depth interviews. Life stressors, ranging from personal illness to changes in employment status, had varied effects on participation. Some women coped with life stressors by using them as a motivational tool to improve their own health, while others reported limited ability to devote time to attend meetings or engage in the prescribed lifestyle changes due to life stressors. A critical key to improving weight loss outcomes for African American women may be using intervention strategies that teach positive coping skills to alter maladaptive responses to life stressors. © 2011.