Category Archives: Weight Loss Psychology

In this category we discuss most aspect of psychological factors having an influence on weight loss plans.

5 Weight Loss Tips from 5,000 Success Stories

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 πŸ™‚

Losing weight is a real challenge

5 Weight Loss Tips.jpg
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 πŸ™‚

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Self-control needs exercise: each time that we resist to food temptation, we grow our confidence and motivation.
  3. Sugary foods must be reduced progressively but constantly, because they develop physical and psychological addiction.
  4. Mistakes are inevitable and we must again rationalize and learn from them, avoiding Β« plausible excuses in order to give upΒ».
  5. 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.

Executive Summary

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.

-Mike Budd


10 Tips to Stay Fit during the Festive Season

For the last post of the year, not 8, not 9 but 10 tips to stay fit during the festive season!

Because I don’t know about you but I tend to fall in each and every trap when it comes to stay fit πŸ™‚ If you don’t believe me, read this and that.

In the most part of the year I use several lame excuses (I have a long list), but between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I don’t even need an excuse πŸ™‚

How Could You Stay Fit at this Time of the Year?

Honestly, why would you say no to all these treats offered to you during the holiday season? Especially if you did enough efforts to get in shape and stay fit during the year?

It’s part of the tradition. We spend hours eating and sharing with our loved ones. Some cakes take weeks to be prepared, how could you say no to your mother-in-law? πŸ˜‰
It’s a warm spirit. It’s about sharing presents, good time and good food. Period.

So you end up overindulging in sweets and you compromise months of efforts πŸ™

So here is what I do: 10 tips to stay fit during the festive season. For me it’s a good compromise: I get the most of the festive season and I am not falling too far off track.

Resist the Treats!

Resist the Christmas treats to stay fit!1) Be selective. Eat only your top favorite treats when you have the choice, and politely say no when they are offered, even by your mother-in-law πŸ™‚
Or say yes, but give them discreetly to the dog πŸ™‚ Think of how many times you said yes just to be polite! Remember: it’s your body, your health, your efforts to lose the extra weight that will come with these treats, so you don’t have to have them all πŸ™‚

2) Always prefer homemade treats . Many recipes are delicious and healthy. Find a good book (another great Christmas gift idea).

Weight loss or Brownie?3) If you didn’t have the willpower to resist once, it doesn’t mean that from that point on, you lost *definitely* and you can now indulge anything. I hear that so many times: one slip up in the morning becomes a day off… and with one day off, you might as well skip the whole week! You see what I mean: it’s not “all or nothing”.

4) Now the easiest and cheapest tip I know for weight loss: drink lots of water! I do it consistently since years and it works wonders. Pure water, when you feel hungry, instead of grabbing a piece of cake. After a glass of good wine, instead of a second one, drink the same amount of water. Before lunch. It’s amazing how it regulates your metabolism and your appetite. It helps detoxing your body. Especially during this season where we typically drink more alcohol.

Keep Moving!

Running alone in the cold5) Adapt your training routine if necessary (because it’s getting cold and dark) but keep up with your plan. Switch to evenings to lunchtime if you want but don’t get too far off track. You would have to pay the high price later.

6) You know I love running. Well, I love the fat burn results you get from running πŸ˜‰ During the festive season, you have less opportunities: usually your training buddies are not there, again it’s cold and dark so you would a superhero willpower to lace up and hit the road alone. What I do is switching to short, intensive workouts at home. I say at home but in fact I mean inside, it can be in a hotel room or when traveling to relatives. My preferred workout is an intensive leg training because it’s the most effective (due to the big muscle groups like the quads).

7) My preferred timing for these intensive workouts is before the heavy meals, you know, these special days where you already know that your weight will suffer πŸ™‚ I know that 10 minutes of high intensity training will be followed by muscle recovery that will compensate the extra calories. And come on, 10 minutes only! Definitely worth it πŸ™‚

8) The next trap in this period is that we sit for hours, day after day. So my next tip is not spectacular but quite effective: I take any opportunity to keep moving. I get up when we need something in the cellar, I go upstairs and downstairs as soon as something is missing, I go and grab things in the kitchen, well, you get the point: move more!

Family Fun Outside9) Play outside with kids. They have more energy in one day than us in one week πŸ™‚ It’s getting harder to get them outside in our connected world but if you manage to start any old-fashioned activity that requires more than their thumbs, for instance playing with a ball or “catch me if you can”, you will see how many calories you will burn, just by trying to follow them πŸ™‚

10) If you’re not the “running type”, you could go for a walk every day, in the fresh air. Even if brown fat in winter is known to burn calories, don’t expect the same results as with other classical cardio sessions (rowing, biking, swimming and the top one, running) but walking has several health benefits that I really enjoy with my family. We have more time, we talk a lot, and frankly I can’t think of a better way of getting your energy back after a long lunch or dinner. It’s not so demanding, compared to a workout (preparation, clothes etc), anybody can do it. If you have a goal in mind (visiting something or somebody) it becomes a healthy side benefit of a real activity. Plus it has an excellent effect on your stress and well-being. You see, no excuse πŸ™‚


I remember that my first post this year was about motivation and goal setting. In all modesty, it was a “high-level” contribution πŸ˜‰ It’s not what you think, I’m not being pretentious here, I said “high-level” because it is supposed to set the frame for the whole year. You have to see the big picture before thinking of details.

Now the tricky part: it took me years to apply it and to get results.
Why is it so easy to set goals and so hard to achieve them?
Because it’s about change.
And change comes only with action.
You can have all needed information, you won’t change until you do it.
Change is about doing, not knowing. You may “know it all” and still be stuck, year after year.

You can change and stay fit only when you know what to do, how to do it and when you start to apply it consistently. Day after day.

That’s it for the last post of 2016.

Time to wish you Health, Peace, Love and Happiness in 2017 πŸ™‚

Happy New Year!






-Mike Budd

My Weight Loss Story, Episode 2

The last post was about my weight loss experience and I got many emails from people who went through the same issues. And apparently my “magic soup” experience made some people laugh πŸ™‚ well, years later, this is the first positive thing about it! I’ve been asked for what I did after that, so here it is: My Weight Loss Story, Episode 2 πŸ™‚

Dieting again

I’m a stubborn guy. When the “magic soup” experience appeared to be useless, I thought that it was my fault because I had been naive and I just didn’t find the right information online. Next time I’ll find the magic one! Stubborn and a bit stupid too πŸ™‚

So I went to Google again and this time I placed my hopes in another method, a famous diet, widely promoted as very efficient: the high-protein, low-carb diet, you know, the Atkins kind of diet. The idea was to drastically cut carbs which are used first by your body for energy, so that fat is used instead, in a metabolic state that doctors call “ketosis”. Honestly I liked it immediately! I found the idea brilliant, the name “ketosis” sounded like the end of my problems, I was truly sure that this scientific approach with such a name was a winner πŸ™‚ I was already picturing my new body quickly running short of fat πŸ™‚

So I started this approach with great enthusiasm and I even decided to push it to the next step: high protein foods and veggies only, nothing else! I wanted the best possible ketosis, not the average one πŸ™‚

Then, back to reality. I remember that it was quite embarrassing in the office because we used to have lunch all together and of course I got many question from my co-workers who immediately noticed that I was dieting…
One day, we have been invited in a very expensive restaurant to celebrate the end of a big project and I had to say no to a very old red wine. Apparently our business partners wanted to show their gratitude and really, nobody could understand my reaction. They told me that this wine was so famous, so rare, so expensive that it was a dream for many wine lovers around the globe! And I was drinking water because of a stupid diet! In my head, I was silently repeating my mantra: Ketosis, Ketosis, Ketosis! πŸ™‚

Embarrassing Side Effect

At least the good point about this high-protein diet is that I was not hungry. The bad point is that ketosis has an embarrassing side effect: bad breath πŸ™ I will never forget this glimpse of surprise followed by disgust from people I was talking to. First they take a step back, and they avoid you completely πŸ™‚ Or they increase the “social distance” when they *really* have to be in front of you. I’m not sure but I think I got more emails than usual during my ketosis period πŸ™‚

The result of this diet in terms of weight loss has been modest, real but modest. But these few pounds off came with a very high price: my cholesterol levels did skyrocket. They were already high but after this diet they went wild. It took me years to bring them back to normal levels.

My Weight Loss Story, Episode 2

Run Till You Fall

Now a few words about the second part of my plan: running.
I was feeling very confident because I used to exercise a lot when I was young. So I started running with high hopes, even thinking of future competitions πŸ™‚ My typical session was the following: after a quick warm-up, I was running around half an hour at my maximum speed, sweating like in hell. My main problem was about time management: I had long days in the office and I didn’t want to sacrifice dinner with my wife and kids. So I ended up running at night, after dinner. Stupid again. My running route never varied. In the beginning people were surprised to see me running at night. They probably thought I was crazy, running in the dark, in the cold, in the rain… Same route, same houses, same people, same dogs barking at me… Finally after a few weeks people and dogs got used to my late runs and nobody paid attention anymore. I was the “poor fat guy running at night”…

So, what about the weight loss results?
The sad truth is that I lost.. almost nothing. The main result was injuries: it was too much stress for my heavy body. The most painful points were the knees and hips. Painkillers didn’t help much. I knew that I needed some rest, but guess what? I can do it πŸ™‚
I went to friends doctors who helped me with anti-inflammatory injections. A few days later I was on the road again. But not for long. The real end of the story came from the mental side. I realized that all these efforts were for nothing, that it was a failure, that I was a failure.
It was like a breakthrough. During the last night run, I was exhausted, beyond acceptable fatigue and yet trying to keep on running. At one moment I thought: what’s wrong with me? Does it have to be so hard? It’s not working. I have to accept this weight, this age. I have been unhealthy for years and I will never be healthy and fit again. It’s too late. So I stopped running and I walked my way back home πŸ™

Believe me, this second failure has been much more devastating than the first one.

OK, that’s it for the embarrassing memories.

The good point is… the happy end πŸ™‚

It was not “too late”. I was my learning curve. It took me time to do the right things, in the right order: get support, eat less, move more — but not the way I did it!

Keep in touch,
-Mike Budd


Resolutions, I Think I Get It Now

I’m so glad I started this blog. Really. I have to thank you. Why? Because it changed so many things for me: I am helping people here, so each time I am confronted to a “problem”, I see things differently. If I’m supposed to help people, how come I can’t help myself? That’s why I decided to analyze my own resolutions in a different way this year.

Old Approach

Here is what I do typically every year:

What is most important to me?
My family.

How can I give them the best of me?
By being available, by taking care of them, by keeping all of us in good health, as long as possible.

How can I take care of my health?
First by losing weight.

How can I increase quality time with my wife and children?
By being more productive in order to free up time for them while doing all I have to do.

So I end up with lame New Year’s resolutions such as:

  • Lose weight…
  • Be kind…
  • Be more productive…

Guess how long these resolutions will last πŸ™
Usually 2 weeks, until reality strikes back.

My New Approach to Resolutions

Each time I talk to people met through my blog, I give them my best advice because most of the time it’s about ephedrine and weight loss, and I always suggest to consider the third pillar that most people underestimate: support!
For the first two pillars, Eat Less and Move More, I have a lot of things to tell, because I’m on these topics since years. But for support you need something personal, starting with your family and friends, then a coach or a weight loss buddy, and of course I can’t play that role.

So my “Aha!” moment this year has been: “why not applying this “get support” advice to yourself regarding New Year’s resolutions?

That’s what I did. I went to close friends who are psychologists and asked them for support:

  • What do they think about New Year’s resolutions?
  • Why don’t we stick at them more than 2 weeks?
  • What could I do to have more success this year and at least achieve *one* goal

Talking To The Pros

After long (boring) discussions, I had the feeling I was at the same point: blah blah “volition”, blah blah “willpower”, blah blah blah…
Finally they told me something I could understand: you need a basic knowledge if you want to change. Good things do not happen magically because you did a list πŸ˜‰
You need a “toolbox”. A mental toolbox. First you learn what are these tools, what they are for, when to use them. Then you need some basic training with these tools, in real situations. Then more advanced training. And after a while, you master them and finally you fix your problems “naturally”, where other people get stuck over and over, just as you were.. before!

So I asked them where to start and they recommended that I learn some academic knowledge from real experts. And now I am happy to share it with you: here is a great video from Dr. Mike Evans, from the University of Toronto. I like it a lot:

You will see a study showing that you have way more “chance” to be successful if you do your resolutions at New Year’s: 41% of us do New Year’s resolutions (mainly weight loss) but those who initiate their change at another time than New Year’s have only a 4% success rate after 6 months, compared to 46% for those who made their commitment at New Year’s!

Later in the video you will learn key knowledge about goal setting. Don’t miss it.

Lessons Learned

I went back to my New Year’s resolutions with different angles.

  • “Zoom out” to have the global picture: in my case, Family, Health and Time
  • “Zoom in” to focus on each one: that’s what I was missing until now and it has to do with goal setting

How can I translate ideal goals into practical changes?
Well, first by acknowledging the difference, by putting them down in writing, and by choosing the first 3 steps (actions) to start with. By doing so I accept that it’s not perfect but better than nothing, a first step in the right direction.

Finally I did this nice picture to keep it in mind: see how serious I am now? I can already feel a change πŸ˜‰

Changing New Year's Resolutions To Change Myself

That’s all for now. I will test some tips about changing habits for the next post πŸ™‚
Meanwhile, feel free to share your own experience below!

Keep in touch,


Weight Loss Psychology Articles


Recently – another dinner πŸ˜‰ – we had the chance to meet two psychoanalysts: of course we discussed our favorite topic, weight loss, and of course I asked them if they would be kind enough to support the Health Dream Team by writing a few articles on topics they consider as very important for weight loss: motivation, mindset, self-confidence, resilience etc…
Based on their availability I will organize the work sessions and we will publish these articles as soon as possible – knowing the importance of psychological factors in weight loss success or failure, I am sure that it will be very helpful.

Mike Budd