Understanding The Psychology Of Losing Weight

When people are talking about losing weight, they seldom consider the fact that there is a lot of human psychology involved as well. Change plays a very important role in this, which has to be dealt with very carefully.

Weight loss may be pre-determined and worked at, or it may also be involuntary. If an individual feels that they are overweight, then usually eat healthy, exercise and enroll in a weight loss program, which will ensure that their total biomass comes down. However, if you suffer from a disease, then too one of the side effects might be the shedding of an inordinate amount of weight. In either case, the person who is losing kilos after kilo has to deal with a lot of physical changes, which has its effect on the mind as well. It is not easy, getting used to your new body, whether it was intentional or accidental.

Emotions Associated With Weight Loss

Our studies at www.newspsychology.com show that the losing weight is a physical as well as a highly emotional process. There are several feeling involved as well, which have to be taken care of, so that when you are losing weight, you do so in a health manner, without harming the natural construction of your body. As a result of our research, we have postulated some of the most common emotions that are associated with losing weight.

They are as follows:

  • Stress- this could hamper the process of losing weight
  • Determination- which could in fact, help you throughout the process
  • Self-confidence- which is a very important factor when you are dealing with the self-image
  • Optimism- which is another compelling factor when you are trying to lose weight

Anxiety- which is another negative emotions that people experience when they are trying to lose weight.

How Does Psychology Help People Lose Weight

Psychology is nothing but the unique and collective mental processes of human beings, which is determined by a number of external and internal factors. So the question is, how can a mental process help you lose your physical weight? Read on to find out more.

We have discovered that a major issue with people today is their weight. No matter what their size, they are considered overweight. Unless you are a supermodel, you are not considered ‘beautiful’ or even acceptable, which is one of the most detrimental factors when it comes to the reason why people need to lose weight. People lose weight by doing a number of physical exercises, eating healthy, and living a better lifestyle. The last of these factors is largely mental, and that is how psychology helps people lose weight.

Psychology And Weight Loss

People may want to lose weight for various reasons and that is purely subjective. However, psychology, as reveled by our studies, has a very crucial role to play in this process. There are several ways by which this can be made possible.

Avoiding stress is important when you plan to shed those extra pounds, because when people are stresses, there is severe hormonal imbalance in your body, which can reverse all your efforts. In addition to that, people also tend to stress eat, which renders the whole process of exercise useless.

Optimism also plays a very important role in giving people a positive about their bodies. There is a huge difference between being skinny and anorexic, and being healthy and fit. However, because of the lack of positive energy, people fail to understand this.

It is very important to be mentally fit in order to be completely physically fit, which ‘cutting the mental fat’ means. Without it, any weight loss regime will be bound to fail. 

The Psychological Triggers Behind Weight Loss

Weight loss is an issue that people of all ages deal with at some point of time or the other. What people usually tend to forget is that usually, there is an acute psychology that also plays an important role in determining the process of shedding weight.

Our research at newspsychology shows that the weight loss is a serious health concern that people have to deal with, no matter how old, or how skinny they are. It is in fact a process of change that has to be dealt with carefully, by medical and biological and dietary means, which will lead to the shedding of ‘excess’ weight.

Thus, usually, it is I understood that weight is a term which is wholly medical or biological, and has little to do with psychology. However, you might be surprised to note the results of an extensive study that our experts have produced, which shows that human psychology is, in fact, one of the most detrimental factors when it comes to enrolling in a weight loss program. 

Factors Compelling People To Lose Weight

  • Human psychology plays a very important role in giving people an idea that the thinner, the better. There are several factors which might contribute to a person losing weight. Our studies have revealed the following inferences:
  • Firstly, peer pressure and society does not allow you to feel comfortable in your skin. Even if you are slightly overweight, or you are not overweight at all, you maybe given a label, which might compel you to loseweight.
  • The psychology of the human mind is also affected when they see the popular fashion magazines, actresses, and the kind of people who are called ‘beautiful’ and ‘handsome’. They are forced to live under the notion that if you are not skinny, you are not beautiful.
  • However, by no means is being obsess considered acceptable. When you are obsess, more complex health problems may crop up, in which case, it is important to lose weight.
  • Another psychological inference is that people find it difficult to adjust to the changes that the body goes through. 

Weight loss psychology

If you want to succeed at weight loss, you need to "cut the mental fat, and that will lead to cutting the waistline fat," says Pamela Peeke, MD, author of Fit to Live.  "Look at the patterns and habits in your life that you are dragging around with you that get in the way of success.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing how you think about yourself, how you act, and circumstances that surround how you act, is an effective treatment for a wide range of problems, including weight loss.  Key to it is its focus on making changes and sticking to them.

The best way to improve your belief in your ability to succeed is actually to have some success.  Setting concrete and achievable goals, such as eating fruit at breakfast or replacing an after-dinner TV show with a walk, can build your confidence to set more ambitious goals.

If you want to be thin, picture yourself thin. Visualize your future self, six months to a year down the road, and think of how good you'll look and feel without the extra pounds. Dig up old photographs of your thinner self and put them in a place as a reminder of what you are working toward.  Ask yourself what you did back then that you could incorporate into your lifestyle today. And, advises Peeke, think about activities you would like to do but can’t because of your weight. Stop criticizing and shaming yourself for not sticking to your diet plan. Have it out with your critic! Make your critic’s words explicit—say them clearly and out loud and then fight back as intelligently, fiercely, and clearly as you can. This exercise will support your self-love by building a more empowered self. Going further, make a list of other plans, activities, and people you would like to say “no” to and begin practicing immediately.

Limiting TV time: An effective strategy for preventing weight gain in children

Reducing television viewing may be an effective strategy to prevent excess weight gain among adolescents, according to a new study released in the September/October 2012 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Findings were based on a one-year community-based randomized trial that enrolled 153 adults and 72 adolescents from the same households. During that year, researchers from the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health Obesity Prevention Center conducted six face-to-face group meetings, sent monthly newsletters, and set-up 12 home-based activities. In addition, each household agreed to allow researchers to attach a "TV Allowance" to all televisions in the household for the one-year study period. Television viewing hours, diet, and physical activity levels were measured before and after the intervention.

A clear association was observed among adolescents between reduction in TV hours and decreased weight gain over one year. The TV hours' impact on weight gain was not significant for adults. These findings suggest that television viewing is a risk for excess weight gain among adolescents. The implication is that parents who limit their adolescents' television viewing may help their adolescent maintain a healthy body weight. According to national survey data [NHANES] 2003-2006, about 31% of US children and adolescents are overweight or obese, therefore finding the causes for weight gain in this population is growing increasingly important.

According to Simone A. French, PhD, principal investigator of this study and the Director of the University of Minnesota's Obesity Prevention Center, "We tried to intervene on behaviors that are related to energy balance, such as television viewing, sugar-sweetened beverage intake, physical activity, and consumption of packaged convenience foods. Although the individual contribution of each of these behaviors to excess weight gain and obesity may be small, it is important to examine their possible role individually and together in promoting excess weight gain. Associations between these behaviors and risk for excess weight gain may differ among adults and adolescents because of their different physical and social developmental stages."

"This study is an important piece of evidence that reducing TV hours is a powerful weight gain prevention strategy parents can use to help prevent excess weight gain among their children by changing the home environment and household television viewing norms."

Journal Reference:

  1. Simone A. French, Nathan R. Mitchell, Peter J. Hannan. Decrease in Television Viewing Predicts Lower Body Mass Index at 1-Year Follow-Up in Adolescents, but Not Adults. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2011.12.008

Antibiotic use in infants before six months associated with being overweight in childhood

Treating very young infants with antibiotics may predispose them to being overweight in childhood, according to a study of more than 10,000 children by researchers at the NYU School of Medicine and the NYU Wagner School of Public Service and published in the online August 21, 2012, issue of the International Journal of Obesity.

The study found that on average, children exposed to antibiotics from birth to 5 months of age weighed more for their height than children who weren't exposed. Between the ages of 10 to 20 months, this translated into small increases in body mass percentile, based on models that incorporated the potential impacts of diet, physical activity, and parental obesity. By 38 months of age, exposed children had a 22% greater likelihood of being overweight. However, the timing of exposure mattered: children exposed from 6 months to 14 months did not have significantly higher body mass than children who did not receive antibiotics in that same time period.

The NYU School of Medicine researchers, led by Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine, and Jan Blustein, MD, PhD, professor of population health and medicine, caution that the study does not prove that antibiotics in early life causes young children to be overweight. It only shows that a correlation exists. Further studies will need to be conducted to explore the issue of a direct causal link.

"We typically consider obesity an epidemic grounded in unhealthy diet and exercise, yet increasingly studies suggest it's more complicated," said Dr. Trasande. "Microbes in our intestines may play critical roles in how we absorb calories, and exposure to antibiotics, especially early in life, may kill off healthy bacteria that influence how we absorb nutrients into our bodies, and would otherwise keep us lean."

In recent years there has been a growing concern about the overuse of antibiotics, especially in children. Preliminary studies of the microbiome, the trillions of microbial cells inhabiting our bodies and outnumber our own cells 10 to 1, implicate obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and other conditions with changes in the microbiome. It is still a field in its infancy, however, and no one has yet proved that altering the composition of bacteria in the body leads to disease.

This is the first time that a study has analyzed the association between the use of antibiotics and body mass starting in infancy. One previous study had identified a link between antibiotic use in early infancy and obesity at seven years of age, but was unable to examine potential impacts of antibiotic use later in infancy on body weight in childhood.

The NYU School of Medicine researchers evaluated the use of antibiotics among 11,532 children born in Avon, United Kingdom, during 1991 and 1992. The children are part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a long-term study that provides detailed data on the health and development of these children.

The NYU School of Medicine researchers analyzed health information on these children during three periods: from birth to 5 months of age; 6 months to 14 months; and, finally from 15 to 23 months. They also examined body mass or weight at five different points of time — 6 weeks, 10 months, 20 months, 38 months, and 7 years of age.

Antibiotic use only appeared to have an effect in very young infants (those given antibiotics from birth to 5 months of age.) Although children exposed to antibiotics at 15 to 23 months had somewhat greater BMI (Body Mass Indices) for their age and gender by the age of 7, there was no significant increase in their being overweight or obese.

"For many years now, farmers have known that antibiotics are great at producing heavier cows for market," said Dr. Blustein. "While we need more research to confirm our findings, this carefully conducted study suggests that antibiotics influence weight gain in humans, and especially children too."

In addition to Dr. Trasande, who is also associate professor of health policy, NYU Wagner School of Public Service, and Dr. Blustein, who is also a professor of health policy at the NYU Wagner School of Public Service, the authors of the study are: Mengling Liu, PhD, associate professor of environmental medicine, NYU School of Medicine; Elise Corwin, BA, NYU Wagner School of Public Service; Laura M. Cox, BA, Department of Microbiology, NYU School of Medicine; Martin J. Blaser, MD, the Frederick H. King Professor of Internal Medicine and chair Department of Medicine, and professor of microbiology, NYU School of Medicine.

Support for this preliminary work with the ALPSAC database was provided through a pilot grant from the NYU Global Public Health Research Challenge Fund, and by NIH grants 1GM090989 and 1UL1RR029893.

Journal Reference:

  1. L Trasande, J Blustein, M Liu, E Corwin, L M Cox, M J Blaser. Infant antibiotic exposures and early-life body mass. International Journal of Obesity, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2012.132

Weight-loss surgery results in positive changes in social life, medical conditions

New research shows that people who have bariatric surgery to treat obesity report an overall improvement in quality of life issues after surgery, from their relationships to their medical conditions. Arizona State University researchers presented their findings at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver, Colorado on August 20.

Obesity is an epidemic in the United States with more than one-third of adults over age 20 classified as obese. Bariatric surgery is an increasingly common procedure that individuals are turning to that typically results in dramatic weight loss — sometimes of 100 pounds or more. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, about 220,000 people underwent bariatric surgery in 2009 in the United States, up from about 13,300 procedures in 1998.

The paper, "Social and Health Changes Following Bariatric Surgery," examines how patients who had the surgery fared afterward. The researchers collected data from 213 patients ranging in age from 26 to 73 years old, with an average age of 50, through a self-selected sample of participants in an online support group.

"We thought there would be more negative reactions to the surgery, but the response was very positive," said study co-author Jennie Jacobs Kronenfeld, an ASU School of Social and Family Dynamics professor. "Most people had improvements in chronic health problems."

Health issues that respondents reported improvements in included diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol level, and sleep apnea. Study respondents also cited increased mobility as one of the positive aspects of having surgery to lose weight. Weight loss among participants averaged 95 pounds per person while the range of weight experiences was wide — from a gain of 80 pounds, which is atypical according to the researchers, to a weight loss of 260 pounds.

People who elected to have the surgery to reduce negative reactions to their weight among friends and family reported better relationships after surgery. Respondents also reported a decrease in depression after the surgery.

"This provides evidence that overcoming the stigma of being overweight, as reflected by negative reactions of others, can lead to greater satisfaction among relationships with family and friends, and in social life in general," said Doris A. Palmer, co-author of the paper and a doctoral student in the School of Social and Family Dynamics sociology program at ASU.

Satisfaction with how participants felt about their appearance was lower on average than satisfaction with other aspects after the surgery.

"They were satisfied, but not as pleased about the way they looked as with other aspects of their lives," Kronenfeld said. "They may have hanging skin and those kinds of issues to deal with. It's not clear if most insurance companies will cover treatment of those issues since it may be considered cosmetic."

Researchers asked a variety of questions in the survey that was made available through an online support group for bariatric patients. Study questions examined physical health, self esteem, social life, work life, family life, mobility, and satisfaction with surgery results.

Motivators to have the surgery in order were: to decrease the risk of health problems; to improve overall health; to improve appearance; and to boost self esteem. Respondents also cited the ability to be physically active — for instance, being able to play on the floor with their children if they hadn't been able to manage that in the past when they were larger. Overcoming society's stigma of being overweight was another benefit respondents noted after losing weight.

When psychology trumps anti-obesity drugs

— Patients who fail to lose weight while taking anti-obesity drugs do so because of their beliefs about themselves and about the difficulty of losing weight.

That is the conclusion of research being presented Wednesday 5 September, by Dr Amelia Hollywood from the University of Surrey at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society's Division of Health Psychology. The conference is being held at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool from 5-7 September 2012.

Dr Hollywood interviewed 10 people, who had put on weight over the 18 months after they were prescribed the weight-loss medication Orlistat, about their experiences.

Dr Hollywood and her colleague Dr Jane Ogden found that the women attributed their failure to lose weight to the mechanics of the drug. They highlighted the barriers to weight loss and talked about other weight-loss methods that had not worked for them.

Overall, the researchers found, these people saw their failure to lose weight as an inevitable part of their identity. They felt that it reflected their self-fulfilling belief that they would be perpetual dieters.

Dr Hollywood says: "Weight-loss medication is widely prescribed, but with very mixed results. Many patients either do not lose weight or go on to regain any weight lost. We felt it was important to look at the experiences of these people who do not lose weight, or do not maintain the weight lost in the long term, with this drug.

Our research suggests that prescribing this type of drug should be accompanied by information that reinforces the reality of sticking to the low fat diet that is necessary to avoid the unpleasant consequences of the drug, such as anal leakage, and that these 'side effects' should not be attributed to the drug but to the individuals eating behaviour.

Unless we get the psychology right and change people's beliefs about themselves, their eating and the way the drug works, this medication is often going to produce disappointing results.

We hope our research will encourage the doctors to prescribe this medication more wisely and to provide patients with more support while they are taking it."

Obesity more common among rural residents than urban counterparts, study finds

A new study finds that Americans living in rural areas are more likely to be obese than city dwellers. Published in the National Rural Health Association's Fall 2012 Journal of Rural Health, the study indicates that residential location may play an important role in the obesity epidemic.

Led by researchers at the University of Kansas, the study analyzed data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and is the first in more than three decades to use measured heights and weights. Previous studies have relied on self-reported data, which typically underestimate the prevalence of obesity.

Christie Befort, Ph.D., assistant professor of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Kansas Medical Center, believes there may be two significant reasons why rural residents are more likely to be overweight: cultural diet and physical isolation.

"There is a definite cultural diet in rural America, full of rich, homemade foods including lots of meat and dessert," said Befort, who led the study. The study, which also examined demographic and lifestyle factors, found that rural Americans typically consume a diet higher in fat.

Rural residents also face challenges to accessing health care, prevention and lifestyle activities.

"Access is often about travel time in a rural area, but it can also be that there's no place to go — literal physical isolation," said Befort. "It's tough to get to a gym if you live outside of a town without one."

The research demonstrated that the rural-urban obesity disparity existed in younger Americans, ages 20-39, but not in older age groups. Befort believes this can be partially attributed to increased mechanization of previously labor-intensive jobs.

"Physical activity is now needed to compensate for diet and technology," said Befort. "That requires cultural change because rural areas typically don't have a culture of physical activity as leisure time."

Befort examined several factors which are thought to affect obesity, including diet, physical activity, age, race, gender, and education. The researchers discovered that even when other contributing factors are held constant, rural residents were more likely to be obese.

"Living in a rural area isn't always recognized as a category for obesity-related health disparities but, according to our study, it should be," said Befort.

"We simply cannot ignore the link between obesity and poverty, and the disproportionate impact this is having on rural America," said Alan Morgan, the National Rural Health Association's CEO. "If we truly want to decrease health care costs and improve the nation's health status, we are going to have to start viewing obesity as a top-tier public health concern for rural Americans."

Journal Reference:

  1. Christie A. Befort, Niaman Nazir, Michael G. Perri. Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults From Rural and Urban Areas of the United States: Findings From NHANES (2005-2008). The Journal of Rural Health, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2012.00411.x

Stress during pregnancy leads to abdominal obesity in mice offspring

New research suggests that the neuropeptide Y in plasma and its Y2 receptor in visceral fat play an important role in obesity.

A new report involving mice suggests that a relationship exists between maternal metabolic or psychological stress and the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome in her offspring. What's more, the report shows that if the stress cannot be reduced or eliminated, manipulating the neuropeptide Y (NPY) system in visceral fat may prevent maternal stress-induced obesity from occurring in the next generation. This discovery is reported in the August 2012 issue of The FASEB Journal.

"Obesity is a worldwide disease. Here we found that maternal stress, psychologically and metabolically, increases abdominal obesity and glucose intolerance in the next generation in a sex-specific manner, which is mediated by the NPY system in visceral fat," said Ruijun Han, a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, Stress Physiology Center at the University of Minnesota. "Our study suggested that NPY in the platelet-rich plasma and its Y2 receptor in the visceral fat, play an important role in maternal stress-programmed abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome in offspring."

To make this discovery, Young and colleagues fed different groups of pregnant mice a low protein diet during pregnancy and lactation; a normal protein diet during pregnancy and lactation; or a low protein diet only during pregnancy. After weaning, all the pups were fed high fat diets for 18 weeks, and metabolic parameters and expression of NPY system in periphery tissues were monitored and measured.

"There are a lot of reasons why expectant mothers should not be under stress," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, "and this report adds yet another reason. What's most interesting, however, is that it provides some insight into how we can counter the negative effects of stress, even when it's not possible to reduce or eliminate the stressors themselves."

Journal Reference:

  1. R. Han, A. Li, L. Li, J. B. Kitlinska, Z. Zukowska. Maternal low-protein diet up-regulates the neuropeptide Y system in visceral fat and leads to abdominal obesity and glucose intolerance in a sex- and time-specific manner. The FASEB Journal, 2012; 26 (8): 3528 DOI: 10.1096/fj.12-203943