Weight-loss psychology: how your brain is preventing you from losing weight

Posted on November 22, 2016

Photo: flickr

For the most part, we often blame ourselves. Desperate to succeed despite a history of dangerous scams and diet schemes, consumers continue their search for a magical solution to weight loss and willingly throw money at the problem. The market for weight-loss products continues to grow at an ever increasing rate, from a value of about $586 billion in 2014.

So why is it so difficult to lose weight? Obesity psychologist Jim Keller, Director of Behavioral Health at the WeightWise Bariatric Program in Oklahoma City, asserts that the human body and brain are designed to eat - thus explaining why losing weight proves so challenging for so many.

Keller, who has conducted 14,000 psychological interviews of individuals considering bariatric surgery, says that the causes of obesity are complex. Obesity is not simply a function of laziness or an indication of emotional instability. In addition, genetic and biological factors do not act in isolation, but are constantly interacting with an array of environmental factors. Keller notes that both the availability and persuasive advertising of unhealthy food contribute to the obesity epidemic.

While external and genetic factors play a role, no one questions that individuals are in charge of their daily decisions about what and how much to eat. So once we make up our minds to change a habit, why do we find ourselves falling back into old ones? Why can't we simply make a decision and get on with it? What puzzles and frustrates many trying to lose weight is why changing one's eating habits is so darn hard.

According to Dr. Howard Rankin, an expert on behavioral change, a key part of the problem is that we believe we have more control over our behavior than we really do. Stress, anxiety and addiction can limit the conscious control we have over our choices. Dr. Rankin also stresses that another key factor is that resolve is not constant, but ebbs and flows like the tide. One moment we can be fired up to be mindful of our eating, but in the next instant, our mood, our state of consciousness or the context has changed. Much to our chagrin, we find ourselves indulging in unhealthy treats.

The obstacles to losing weight, however, are not insurmountable. The National Weight Registry is tracking over 5,000 individuals who have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept the weight off for five years. Insights from their success stories are consistent with these five tips from Dr. Rankin:

1) Focus on a change of heart, not a change of mind. Losing weight through changing what and how much you eat doesn't happen because you rationally decide to lose weight. You have to have a change of heart; that is, you must get in touch with your deepest, heartfelt desires. Successful individuals keep their motivation in the forefront of their minds all the time.

2) Practice self-discipline. Each time you resist temptation, you are developing greater self-control. Success breeds success.

3) Eliminate or reduce sugary, fat-laden foods. Such foods create physical changes at a cellular level that alter how our brains and bodies react. When analyzing your level of addiction, consider both physical dependence (changes at the cellular level) and psychological dependence (the habitual repetition of a behavior in an attempt to satisfy an emotional need). For example, how often do you use a sugary treat to lift your spirits?

4) Make history your teacher, not your jailer. You can learn from your mistakes. Instead of beating yourself up when you fail to keep your promises to yourself, seek to gain self-knowledge so you won't repeat the error.

5) Surround yourself with friends, family and colleagues who will support your effort. One of the most potent forces for positive change is the emotional support of the individuals who surround you. Similarly, you need to avoid those people who aren't on the same page as you. Social pressure can work for you or against you. Hang out with the right people.

To read the full article, click on the link below.

Category(s):Eating Disorders, Health / Illness / Medical Issues, Self-Love

Source material from Huffington Post

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