Psychology of Weight LossOct
Many people in different age groups pursue their ideal body shapes. Physicians have taught us that balanced diet and adequate physical exercises are required to attain weight loss. There are plenty of ‘miracle tips’ for weight loss available on the Internet. However, many people found th ...
Many people in different age groups pursue their ideal body shapes. Physicians have taught us that balanced diet and adequate physical exercises are required to attain weight loss. There are plenty of ‘miracle tips’ for weight loss available on the Internet. However, many people found that their weight bounds back within a period after achieving their weight loss goal. It makes them feel frustrated. According to research in 2004 and 2010, people usually regain a third of their weight loss within a year and the rest within 3-5 years. Other than doing physical exercises and changing diet habits, psychologists suggested some points that we should be aware of in order to maintain weight:
1. Be aware of dichotomous thinking
In order to achieve the weight loss goals, some people would do exercises frequently and also restrict their diet strictly. For instance, they tend to label food dichotomously as ‘healthy’ vs ‘unhealthy’, ‘can eat’ vs ‘can’t eat’, and evaluate themselves as ‘standard’ vs ‘fat’. It sounds that they are very determined so they should have relatively successful results. However, when they once fail their harsh dietary rules, they tend to have ‘all-or-nothing’ thinking. They may think that ‘Well, I have already broken the rules, I won’t accomplish my weight loss plan’. After that they may terminate their diet plan and start overeating. They then commonly prefer food in high energy value as well as sugar content level. They may also resume eating food which they restrained in dietary plan before. For example, they could eat 5 packs of French fries and 6 pieces of cake at once, compensating what they were deprived of before. After they have satisfied the desire for that food, they feel regret and anxious about their act. Neglecting our food preference too harshly may show a significant effectiveness in a short term, but it is difficult to maintain and thus may lead to weight regain in a long term.
2. Weight Loss in Mindfulness
i. Mindful eating
A well-modified diet is needed to achieve weight loss. Food with high fat, salt and sugar content should be avoided as much as possible, while healthy food is more preferred in a diet. Some people may think that healthy food is healthy, but is less tasty than the unhealthy food. In fact, healthy food can also be made delicious by various cooking methods. On the other hand, let’s introspect: have we ever savored the food thoroughly? In general, people nowadays eat very fast. They even multi-task when eating (like using mobile phone and watching TV when they are having dinner). The result is that we cannot really enjoy the food which we are eating. Mindful eating helps us appreciate food with refreshing experiences. Moreover, we can know more about our physical needs through mindful eating. Mindful eating requires us to start eating when feeling hungry and stop eating when feeling full. It prevents us from over-dieting and overeating certain kinds of food.
ii. Non-judgmental awareness of eating habits
Not only our body tells us when to eat, our eating frequency and preference may also be influenced by environmental and emotional factors. Some people eat when they feel stressed, doubt their self-worth and are confronted with negative emotions. They eat to escape from anxiety. They usually tend to choose food with high energy value and sugar content. After overeating, they may have guilt and anxiety. A vicious cycle is thus formed. Therefore, if we want to get rid of such a vicious cycle, we should enhance our awareness of present emotions and thoughts, understanding that the desire for food comes from negative emotions and stress actually. After that, we may embrace these emotions and thoughts with an open and accepting attitude. It helps us fight against overeating.
Why do we want to lose weight? For a healthier body? To achieve our own ideal image? To cater to social standard of beauty? If we do for the first reason, weight loss is a beneficial goal which should be supported and encouraged. If we do for the second and the third reasons, we better reassess our actual need of weight loss. Maybe what we really need is self-compassion instead of becoming prettier. Love our healthy body, be more self-appreciating and self-accepting. Being healthy and confident is also a kind of beauty.