How many times have you followed some popular diet to the letter, then wondered why it didn’t work, or why you couldn’t stay with it?
What most people don’t know is this: successful weight loss depends on more than just eating or not eating foods on a list! Losing weight involves some mental and psychological factors as well, and those are the real keys to dieting and weight loss! Here are some studies that tell you what you need to know to achieve your goals and develop your personal potential.
1. Know yourself
Many people have the habit of eating “mindlessly,” that is, without thinking about why they’re eating, or whether or not they’re even hungry. A study by the American Medical Association found that people who developed their ability to tune in to their emotions lost more weight than those who didn’t. What about you: do you know why you’re eating that chocolate mousse?
2. Develop a positive self-image
Sometimes dieting is a response to a perception of yourself of being “fat,” when you really aren’t, and even if you are, don’t worry about it, you’re a great person! You look in the mirror, you aren’t happy with what you see, and you try to address those negative feelings with weight loss – or sometimes eating – and it just doesn’t work. A study at the University of Minnesota found that out of 2,000 women dieters, 72% were not even overweight; they just perceived themselves that way!
3. Work on the total package
Don’t just focus on weight loss; make it part of an overall program of personal growth. Research by the Society for Public Health Education found that people who included a weight loss diet in a general program of improving self-image and mood, nutrition education, exercise participation, etc. were more successful at losing weight than those who focused simply on “calories.”
4. Set short term goals
Of course your long term goal is to lose 80 pounds, but if you’re too focused on that, it can work against you, simply because it can take so long to get there, you lose your motivation to continue. Weight loss expert Malie Frey states, “you need to experience more frequent rewards in the form of achievable short term goals.” For example, “I will eat a salad without cheese for lunch every day this week,” instead of sitting there frowning and muttering, “I will lose 80 pounds… I will lose 80 pounds.”
5. Reward yourself
The American Psychological Association found that people who were motivated by rewards and by support from themselves and others were more successful in their weight loss efforts. When you lose 10 pounds, reward yourself! Buy that spiffy new shirt you saw at the mall!
6. Don’t worry, be happy
Probably more people eat because of stress than for any other reason. Try to reduce stressors in your life and learn to slow down and relax. A major JAND study found greatly increased eating control among subjects who completed relaxation training.
Mike Bundrant is author of the book Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage.
Mike also leads the AHA Online Weight Loss Coaching Group.