This morning I ran across an impressive article by Psychology Today.
Having studied psychology extensively in college (especially health psychology) and then having spent over a decade of front-lines experience coaching clients, I’ve learned that theories don’t always hold up in the real-world.
But the ones that do can be extremely helpful with navigating lasting transformation.
Anyway, this particular article struck gold in terms of permanent weight-loss insight.
Here’s the story:
One day a physiologist wanted to lose 180lbs using various fasting diets, carefully watching his protein intake and taking a host of supplements to avoid nutrient deficiencies. At first his weight-loss was measurable and people showered him with compliments. But after a few months the compliments and ‘pats on the back’ dwindled and his motivation dried up.
He told the author (who was a grad student at the time):
‘This process seems endless, and I am not sure I have the patience to stick to it long enough to get to my goal’.
In fact, he felt as if he was in a dark tunnel with no end in sight. And that he knew that his weight-loss would slow down as his body adapted to his new lower calorie nutrition.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t psychologically pick himself up from this hang-up and dropped the diet before hitting his weight-loss goal.
From this experience, the author realized that what most diets need to be doing is teaching people to be patient with the process.
It would be no different than learning to play piano, tennis or a new language. There’s a certain expectation that mistakes in those environments will be made and progress will be gradual — but for some reason this perspective is missed in weight-loss.
"Losing weight permanently also requires mastering a new skill. The skill includes making appropriate food choices, maintaining a fitness routine, dealing with stress without overeating, and acceptance of a new body shape and life-style."
— Dr. Judith J. Wurtman
And here’s where most people go wrong:
"But when the focus is only on weight loss and not on acquiring the skills to maintain it, it is understandable why patience is lost."
Boom! This is rock music to my ears. Most people only focus on weight-loss when the only thing in their direct control is their skills. Weight-loss is the result of those skills mastered.
What are those exact skills?
That could very well fill multiple newsletters (and a future MBB might do that) but if we take Dr. Wurtman’s list it gives us a solid start:
For more skills of lasting transformation and permanent weight-loss:
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