Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Pain of Fat

Hello Everyone:

When people ask me, "how do you lose weight?", I have a simple answer: eat less and exercise more. True, but not very helpful. When people ask me as a psychologist, "how do you lose weight?", I expand on the answer. I explain that you need to change the psychological association you have with your eating and physical activity. A heavier person will be conditioned to associate pain to healthy diet and exercise and pleasure to poor eating habits and laziness. They might say things like, "I hate to exercise", or "I love chocolate". Hence, weight loss becomes a futile exercise in will power, frustration, and eventual failure.

On the other hand, when people make their mental associations with healthy eating and exercising towards more positive, the healthier choices become much easier and the weight comes off. For instance, a person associating pleasure with healthy choices might tell themselves: "I have energy when I eat well" or "exercise makes me thin".

So, to begin improving the psychological associations you have with healthy weight loss choices, take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the top left side, put a title that says, "the pleasure/good things I'll enjoy when I _____ (eat better, exercise more, etc.)". On the right side, put a title that says "the pain/problems that will happen if I don't _____ (eat better, exercise more, etc.). Then create an ever growing list of these polar opposites, study them, visualize them, and make them important themes in your life.

Another helpful suggestion: get some hypnosis. It's a quick and powerful way to quickly change how you'll think and feel about your weight loss journey. In sum, make your weight loss associations healthy, positive, and productive and watch the pounds come off.

Best wishes on your weight loss journey!

Dr. Randy Gilchrist

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