The Psychology of Weight Loss | Behavioral Changes for a Healthier Life

Mapping the Patterns of Your Life

Have you failed on weight loss plans before? You won’t have forgotten my criticisms of low-fat and low-calorie diets. So it may seem natural to fall on those programs. But, if your pattern goes back a long way and represents a lifelong tendency to gain and lose, gain and lose, then you may be in the grip of what I call emotional eating. At this point in the book, you may be doing Induction. Are you staying disciplined on this critical phase? Then, perhaps all is well. But if you tend to have meals here, there, and everywhere, you may need to address other issues when you eat what you shouldn’t.

Emotional Eating

The air conditioner is broken, the repairman didn’t show up, and the thermometer stands at 96 degrees in the shade. Or the dinner date you’ve been anticipating all week has just been canceled. To console yourself when you’re sad, lonely, or have just had a terrible day, you pull out the chocolate-chip cookies and dive into the rocky road ice cream. It is so easy to use food to comfort yourself when things aren’t going well. If you do, though, you not only won’t feel better for very long, but after your blood sugar goes awry and the posting guilt takes over, you’ll feel awful. There are other ways to deal with a bad day and some tricks you can use to help you do so healthy. So let me offer a few practical responses to situations in which you need to assuage an emotional hurt or alleviate big-time stress.

Teach Yourself, Lecture Yourself, Habituate Yourself

You must have found this book’s arguments convincing, or you wouldn’t still be reading. Now let’s use your new insights to alter your way of life. First, I want you to figure out exactly how doing Atkins has benefited you; then, I want you to use that knowledge as a form of self-empowerment. A conscious realization of how important your health is can overcome your old, bad habits. In the game of life, good reasons can trump old habits. So settle down in a nice comfortable armchair with a pencil and a pad and ask yourself this short series of questions.

Ask People to Respect Your Needs

This conscious approach has another use. It helps to keep you focused on your health. Isn’t that what’s important? If you can convince yourself that it is, you’ll be ready to stand up for your own needs. Many people find it hard to assert, “What I need for myself is important.” Women, perhaps because they function so often as caregivers, have trouble saying, “My needs are essential, too.” If your spouse or significant other is giving you a hard time doing Atkins, that calls for self-assertion. You must clarify that this nutritional approach is a need that you won’t compromise. Even the most sweet-natured and unassertive people have areas in their lives in which they won’t allow interference.

Time for Realism

I’ve just advised you to work out your version of what Atkins does for you. Now please apply a touch of realism to that grand scheme. Don’t be trapped by expectations. This is a typical vulnerability found in people who repeatedly fail at weight loss. They have a preconceived version of how a weight loss plan should progress and demand perfection, or, at least, steady and predictable progress that can’t necessarily be achieved-even by doing Atkins. Your experience will not be like your sibling’s or your parents, and certainly not like your spouse’s.

Create Good Food Habits

You’ve already learned some new eating habits, and I would like to see you extend that ability further. You can learn not just what to eat but also how to treat food in general. We are all plugged into our habits. If you can discover your bad connections and disconnect them, you will start to change. If you can learn new and improved relationships and solder them into place, you’ll do even better.

Keep Control or Else Regain It

Maybe everything I’ve told you will make you perfect. But so far, I’ve met significantly few ideal people, and you may slip and slide now and then. Or else you’ll go through a short period of rebellion and cheat with a vengeance. So here are a few ways to create a strategy for lifetime success.

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Finally comment

What if you’ve muffed it, and you have to start over? Don’t be embarrassed! Don’t let those naysayers say, “I told you so.” Just pick yourself up and start over again with Induction. And at the same time, you should ask yourself a series of soul-searching questions about what happened. This is especially true if you’re a person for whom overeating and being out of control have been ongoing problems. Think about the situations and circumstances that led to the problem and creatively change your life to avoid them in the future. Try to teach yourself new ways of responding to challenges.

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