21 June 12 The Mental Challenges of Losing Weight
There is an awakening statistic out there from the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania that says 65 percent of dieters will return to their pre-dieting weight within three years. Repeat, 65 percent. That’s a lot.
Researchers believe that most people who lose weight spend so much time focused on the eating and exercise portion of weight loss that they fail to understand and deal with the mental and emotional challenges that caused them to gain the weight in the first place.
Recently, David Smith, star of the reality show, “650-Pound Virgin,” once again made headlines, but this time it wasn’t to show off his remarkable 400+ pound weight loss. In the three years since he dropped weight and became a personal trainer he has regained over 250 pounds, most of it in this last year.
Smith sat down with Matt Lauer and “Today” for an exclusive interview (see below). Smith provides some insight into why and how he regained so much weight, even though he had a national spotlight on him.
To better understand the mental challenge of keeping off the weight one loses, researchers in the UK conducted a study on 54 women and they found a few common obstacles.
All-or-Nothing Attitude - Having this attitude is detrimental to keeping off lost weight. If you are hard on yourself and do things like finish a pint of ice cream just because you allowed yourself a couple spoonfuls even though you had no room in your calorie tracker, this can lead down a path toward giving up altogether.
Higher Starting Weight - According to the study, those who have a higher maximum lifetime weight are at higher risk of regaining weight after they hit their goal. The reason is mental and hormonal. Your body was once “accustomed” to carrying extra weight and your hormones are used to signaling when you should start eating if it feels like it’s being starved, even if it’s not.
Other mental stumbling blocks include having weight loss goals that are unrealistic, having low self-esteem, or having difficulty with problem-solving or coping.
On the flip side, though, the traits people have who tend to be better at keeping off lost weight include having strong internal motivation to losing weight, having a strong social support network in place (like the MyNetDiary Community Forum), the ability to cope with stress, and excelling at assuming personal responsibility.
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