5 Weight Loss Tips from 5,000 Success Stories is a catchy title but it’s true as you will see, weight loss experts have really worked on these cases to identify what they all had in common. What I miss though in this title is the word “motivation”. So a good one could have been:
Weight Loss, When Your Motivation Is Melting Faster Than Your Ice Cream 🙂
Losing weight is a real challenge
Millions of people try to, and most of them fail.
We know that motivation is a key success factor, and if we search the web for help, we get not only “5 weight loss tips” but hundreds, thousands of them! Unfortunately, it is not so easy: tips alone may help, but only for a short period of time.
How come? Simply because tips will work durably if we understand why they work. In other words, tips for motivation require a good theoretical knowledge of motivation: where does our motivation come from? How to maintain it, or even develop it?
For that purpose, we will see why it is so difficult to change, and then we will go from theory of motivation to practice, with five tips identified by doctors from the insights of 5,000 success stories in weight loss.
It may seem surprising that we have such a high motivation to lose weight and that this motivation vanishes in front of a chocolate ice cream. If not two ice creams 🙂
What makes change so difficult?
It is true for weight loss as for many other aspects in our life: we seem to fall again and again in the same habits. And right after falling, we feel frustration.
Here are the explanations given by experts on behavioral change:
- We usually overestimate the control that we really have over our behavior.
- Our decision process is complex: somewhere in our brain, several biochemical interactions taking into account emotions, mood, stress, habits or even addiction will overrule our capacity to rationalize.
- In fact, we have an amazing ability to rationalize almost any behavior even at the opposite of what we just decided: our brain has a great power of persuasion when it comes to change from doing things that we don’t like, to thinks that we like. Our capacity to elaborate plausible excuses to our decisions is very efficient at explaining why we can’t do some things that in fact we don’t really want to do.
Take it from the Experts
This doesn’t mean that changing is impossible. Fortunately, many researches have been conducted in the field of motivation, which is a key factor for long term success in weight loss.
We will not develop the old theories such as the Incentive theory (reward system), Maslow’s need hierarchy theory (from basic needs to most complex as self-esteem), Herzberg’s theory (intrinsic / extrinsic motivation) but we will rather focus on the latest theories, called Cognitive theories, more helpful for our weight loss topic:
- The Goal-Setting theory tells us that our goals’ efficiency depends on three factors: proximity, difficulty and specificity. Proximity explains why we prefer an ice cream to jogging, if the result – if any – might be visible in six months only. Difficulty is optimal when the goal is perceived as challenging but attainable. Specificity means that goals have to be clear, explicit, because vague goals don’t motivate.
- Social-Cognitive Models of Behavior Change add another dimension to the Goal-Setting theory: volition, which translates our intentions into action.
Understanding these theories is important, as it will allow us to maintain our motivation and to rationalize our decisions if we really want to change.
5 Weight Loss Tips from 5,000 Success Stories
The next step is to learn from practical cases: more than 5,000 persons who lost weight definitely have been followed by the National Weight Control Registry and weight loss experts have deducted 5 tips valid for all of them:
- Change will come from our motivation, from the bottom of our heart, not from the top of our head. Positive motivation is crucial of course (goal-setting) but negative motivation is important as well (fear of failure, health problems). The key point is to stay motivated.
- Self-control needs exercise: each time that we resist to food temptation, we grow our confidence and motivation.
- Sugary foods must be reduced progressively but constantly, because they develop physical and psychological addiction.
- Mistakes are inevitable and we must again rationalize and learn from them, avoiding « plausible excuses in order to give up».
- The support of family, friends and colleagues is necessary for our change, we have to ask them for this support, and also, we should avoid all persons having negative effects on our motivation
As a conclusion, changes are difficult but possible, given a good theoretical knowledge of motivation translated into action (volition!), with successful tips drawn from experience.
Losing weight is a real challenge: millions of people try to, and most of them fail.
We know that motivation is a key success factor and the latest theories, called Cognitive theories, give us a useful insight on how to build, maintain and develop our motivation durably.
But motivation alone is not enough, it has to translate into action, with the help of 5 weight loss tips that real experts have deducted from more than 5,000 success stories.