The value of having a strong motivation for weight regulation

I just read in New Scientist magazine that over 95% of people who attempt to lose weight fail. That’s a depressing statistic. 

But some people succeed over the long run. The U.S. has a national weight control registry for individuals who have lost at least 14 kgs and kept if off for over a year. Most participants lost much more weight than the minimum and kept if off for several years. Researchers examine these rare individuals every which way. 

Here are some of the findings: Almost all these weight-loss champs reduced calorie intake and increased exercise to about an hour a day. They maintained the loss as long as they kept consuming fewer calories and exercising.

If you think what they did was easy, you have never tried to lose weight and keep it off.

The problems with weight management start with the availability of all the appealing food we want. The problems continue with the reinforcing (rewarding) quality of that delicious food. The self-control challenge is never-ending.

I do not know much about the registry participants, but I can think of types of people who tend to succeed in weight control.

The luckiest people are those biologically inclined to be thin. They do not have to fight as hard the temptations of food. I am in this group.

I know someone who was born to be thin and strong. She nevertheless gained weight. A family member offered her $1000 a month to get down a few kilos to a healthful weight and stay there. The money proved powerful enough to work for several months – up to now.

Other people can control their weight if they perceive an extremely powerful reinforcer for being thin or a powerful punisher for having a higher weight. Some of these individuals make money through either being light or being attractive: actors, gymnasts, ballerinas, boxers, jockeys, wags. Singer Adele lost 22 kgs because. I reckon, she wants to look good on stage.

You might think that maintaining good health would serve as a strong incentive for people to control their weight. It does for some individuals, but for most people weight-related health harms are too vague and too much in the future to provide the needed motivation.

If you want to lose weight, start by finding a powerful motivation and keeping it in your mind. If you get offered money for kilos, take the deal.

 

Photo by Christopher Williams on Unsplash

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