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Weight Loss Success: Scientific Research Reveals the Key
With 25% of the adult population of England and 33% of Americans tipping the scales of obesity, researchers are now investigating the psychology of weight loss success and body image.
They want to determine what makes the difference between success and failure, from a scientific point of view.
The Technical University of Lisbon along with Bangor University have developed and tested a behavioral intervention program to study the effects of women’s body image on her ability to lose weight. The results of the research show a clear connection between how a person feels about her physical image and her ability to lose weight.
The study, published in BioMed Central’s International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, shows promising results. Researchers conducted behavioral weight loss interventions on a group of obese women and compared them to the results of a control group who did not participate in the intervention plan.
Results After One Year
For one year, each group engaged in weight loss activities. The weight loss efforts of the control group were supported with information on nutrition, managing stress and other health information.
The intervention group, however, attended weekly group meetings to discuss body image concerns as well as obstacles to weight loss like emotional eating, the challenges of exercising and their own personal weight loss struggles.
After a full year, the difference in weight loss between the two groups was substantial. The control group, who did not participate in body image support and intervention, lost less than 2% of their original starting weight. The group involved in the intervention plan, however, boasted an average of 7% weight loss at the program’s conclusion.
The study clearly supports the theory that a positive body image plays a key role in the ability to lose excess weight and keep it off over time. Women who felt better about how they looked were less anxious about the opinions of peers and more likely to adopt better eating habits, rather than resorting to comfort eating during times of distress.
It appears as if a vicious cycle of weight gain was discovered:
1. Criticize yourself for looking bad.
2. Overeat due to stress/need for comfort.
3. Gain weight.
4. Feel bad about self and begin to self-criticize.
What Stops People from Seeing Something Positive in the Mirror?
In short, self-criticism. This is the beginning of the cycle that leads to weight gain. It is tempting to think that you criticize yourself because you are overweight.
The truth seems to be that you are overweight because you criticize yourself. This the principle that the above research supports.
The tendency to criticize self is usually the result of negative psychological attachments that have roots in earlier life experience. These negative emotional attachments are extraordinarily familiar and powerful. They keep us focused on the dark side, making us more likely to self-criticize.
Try the following experiment:
Every morning when you look in the mirror, find something positive about yourself and celebrate it.
For example, say to yourself, “Wow. Cool hair. I love my hair!” Enjoy the good feeling. Take it with you throughout the day and ignore any negative voices that try to tear you down.
If you can do this, you will probably find it much easier to make better food choices, exercise and take good care of yourself.
If you cannot do this – if the negativity still wins – then you should explore the effects of negative psychological attachments and self-sabotage. This free and enlightening video is a great place to start.
If you’d like help implementing the principles in this article, consider personal coaching with Mike Bundrant. Click here for more information and to inquire.
Mike Bundrant is a retired psychotherapist, Master NLP trainer, and practicing life coach. He and his wife, Hope, founded iNLP Center in 2011. For information on coaching with Mike, please visit his coaching website AHA System.