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Willpower has limits – this is particularly true when it comes to losing weight. The lack of willpower prevents many people from successfully losing weight. Psychological studies provide interesting tips on how to increase the chances of succeeding.

Many people attempting to lose weight get caught in the vicious circle of losing a bit of fat and regaining it again, often even more than they’ve lost. In fact, the majority of dieters quickly regain the weight once they stopped dieting. Why this happens? And what can be done to avoid this problem?

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Dieting is the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when we talked about the weight loss. It is always recommended to supplement dieting with an adequate exercise regiment. In any health center or gymnasium where we go, we can see that the weight loss programs always involve both diet and exercise. But once we achieve certain progress and stop going to the gym and torturing ourselves with restricting the calories, we again start putting on those pounds.

The simple truth is that the body weight management routine must continue after achieving the desirable or reduced weight. This means that we still need to stick to certain diets and exercise regularly. But there is one problem  you can’t live your whole life in the state of starvation. And this is why most people eventually return to their previous eating habits, which inevitably leads to the regaining of weight.

The Psychological Component Is Critical For Success In Weight Loss

The whole theory of weight loss doesn’t involve only the two components mentioned above, diet and exercise. There is this third and, arguably, the most important component - the psychological factor.  

Dieting alone doesn’t work for the long term weight loss and maintenance. In one study, less than 25 percent of obese individuals were able to lose around five to seven percent of their body weight but could only maintain it for a couple of years.

Dieting and regular exercise do require a lot of self control and willpower which somehow makes the whole process of weight loss tough and failure to a great extent. This means that in addition to losing weight, one should develop, adapt and adhere to some personal lifestyle changes that use the least amount of willpower and self-control.

Psychological research shows that for the maintaining of weight, one needs to break the patterns or habits that result in weight gain in the first place, such as having a dessert after a meal, overeating, eating to satisfy moods and emotions, eating fattening foods etc.

A study conducted on 500 obese individuals who completed their 12-month weight loss program observed that psychological distress, body uneasiness, attitude toward eating, weight loss expectations, primary motivation for enrolling in the program were some of the key factors that resulted in their successful weight loss.

Motivation Is An Important Factor In Weight Loss

Psychological factor in losing weight works on feelings, habits, beliefs, motivation and overall attitude to the whole process.

The role of motivation was explicitly demonstrated in the study conducted by Mayo clinic. The study lasted one year and involved 100 healthy adults in the broad range of ages (from 18 to 63) with a body mass index of 30-39.9. All participants were provided with some weight loss education and behavior modification program. At the end, individuals were divided into two groups. One group received some financial incentives for their success in weight loss, and the other received nothing.

The goal of each participant was to lose four pounds a month until they reached their goal weight. Those in the incentive group would earn $20 if they met their goal each month and if they fail, they’ll have to shed $20 to other group. People in this incentive group were also eligible to win the whole pool through a lottery.

See Also: Types Of Diets: Which Diet Really Works? Low-Fat And Low-Carb Diets

Results showed that 62 percent of individuals in the incentive group completed the study losing an average of 9.05 pounds compared to 26 percent individuals of the non-incentive group who lost 2.35 pounds on an average. This clearly shows that motivation, be it financial in this case, plays an important role in losing weight.

Continue reading after recommendations
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  • Williams GC, Grow VM, Freedman ZR, Ryan RM, Deci EL (1996) Motivational predictors of weight loss and weight-loss maintenance. J Pers Soc Psychol 70: 115-126
  • Wing R, Epstein L, Marcus M, Koeske R (1984) Intermittent low-calorie regimen and booster sessions in the treatment of obesity. Behavior research and Therapy 22(4): http445-449.Photo courtesy of lydia_shiningbrightly via Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/lydiashiningbrightly/5352644013
  • Photo courtesy of Ruurmo via Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/rufino_uribe/243414935

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