weight loss

The Psychology of Weight Loss

There are all kinds of information available about weight loss. If people have access to this information, then why is losing weight so difficult? For those of us who have added some extra weight, the answer is relatively simple: we need to eat healthier and exercise more. But why do we continually find ourselves in the same place, year after year, carrying around more weight than we want to?

The problem is that there are many subconscious factors that can sabotage our best-laid plans. This article will help you understand what could be preventing you from making the progress you desire.

Preliminary Steps

One of the first things to examine is your need strength profile. This self-assessment will determine which of your five basic needs drives most of your behavior. All of us have the same five basic needs, but freedom is my highest need, connection could be yours, and survival may be someone else’s. The other two needs are significance and enjoyment. These all play a huge role in why we do the things we do in the way we do them. Which need do you think is your highest? Next time I will send you links to the assessments to determine what need(s) is high in your life. Once you’ve determined your need strength profile, it is important to seriously consider all the things you want in your life—not just your weight loss goals, but everything you want to do, have, and experience. Ask yourself the question, “What do I want? If I could have anything, what would it be? What do I really, truly want?”

After that, develop a complete vision of how things will change for you after meeting your weight loss goals. How will you be different? What will you do differently? What will you have that you don’t have now? You must be able to clearly see the finished version of what you are attempting to accomplish with all its accompanying perks. Let this become your own personal mental movie of your life after accomplishing your weight loss goals. Visualize your success at least once a day. The next step is to keep track of everything you do, think, and feel that either helps or impedes your progress toward your weight loss goals. For example, if you were able to resist donuts for breakfast, write that down. If you ordered dessert after a meal at a restaurant, record that as well. If you think to yourself, “It’s OK if I have this piece of chocolate. I was really good yesterday,” write that down. Then, if you have the thought, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels,” write that down too. If you’re feeling bored and you grab a bag of potato chips, record the boredom feeling. If you feel elated when you skip a favorite dessert, write that down also.

The next step is to critically evaluate the things you are doing, thinking, and feeling and ask yourself this difficult question: “If I keep doing everything the way I’ve been doing it, will I end up with what I really want? Will I accomplish the vision I have of my new life that I created in my mental movie?”

If your answer is yes, then great! Keep doing what you are doing, and you will get there. However, if your answer is no, then hopefully you have been successful in creating some cognitive dissonance for yourself. Although this is an uncomfortable feeling, it provides you with the information that you need to make some changes. Without experiencing this cognitive dissonance, it’s easy to continue with the bad habits you’ve developed over time. People generally don’t implement changes in their lives unless they are in some serious pain.

The great motivational speaker, Zig Zigler, says, “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now.” When you are trying to make a change as big as losing weight, you must constantly keep your eyes on the prize.

If you’re not moving forward toward your goal, the first thing you need to examine is whether or not you have a burning desire to accomplish your goal. Whatever your weight and fitness goal is, you must have a burning desire to accomplish it.

Another possibility is that, up until now, you haven’t had a very good plan about how to go about losing weight. Without a solid plan, loopholes form, allowing you to sabotage your success. Willpower alone only takes you so far when you are fighting your brain’s conditioning.

A third possibility is that you want something else that is competing with your weight loss plan. You may find some clues about these conflicting goals, either hidden or obvious, in your list of behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. Ask yourself, “What would I have to give up to become successful with my weight loss goals?”

Once you become conscious of these conflicting desires, you have some decisions to make. Is the thing you want something you want more than losing weight? If it is, then you can decide to give up on the idea of losing weight and feel content in doing, having, or obtaining the other thing you want. You will have a new goal to work toward.

Another option is to consciously decide that you want to lose weight more than anything else. If weight loss is truly your goal, then you must determine and target your personal areas of temptation in your neural reconditioning program. Finally, the last option is to find a compromise so you can have some of each of the things you want. For example, I just read in a magazine of a movie star who restricts her carbohydrate intake six days a week but then she allows herself as much pizza as she wants on Sundays. That’s a workable compromise.

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