According to the 2011 Food & Health Survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation, 77 percent of Americans are trying to lose weight or avoid gaining weight. Despite their efforts, nearly 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. This is due to a variety of factors, but for many, it comes down to the psychology of weight loss. Here are 3 tips to prime your psyche to lose weight, get active and stay healthy.
1. Improve Your Self-Efficacy
Many people often start engaging in a exercise and nutritional program temporarily only to fall right back into their old behaviors that put them right back into the same unhealthy state in which they originally wanted to change. Self-efficacy is one’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. A person can improve their self efficacy and decrease their risk of relapsing into old behaviors using several strategies.
- Surround yourself with positive, like-minded, health-focused individuals
- Avoid high-risk situations and environments that promote unhealthy behavior
- Set short-term milestones and reward systems to stay motivated
2. Evaluate Your Personality Type
Eysenck’s personality theory breaks individuals down into a stectrum of four personality characteristics:
- Extroverts are sociable and crave excitement and change, and thus can become bored easily. They tend to be carefree, optimistic and impulsive.
- Introverts are reserved, plan their actions and control their emotions. They tend to be serious, reliable and pessimistic.
- Neurotics / unstables tend to be anxious, worrying and moody. They are overly emotional and find it difficult to calm down once upset.
- Stables are emotionally calm, unreactive and unworried.
Understanding what type of person and personality characteristics you possess will allow you to choose the proper exercise and nutritional type to adhere to a program long-term, achieve your health goals and avoid relapse.
Exercise Programs for Personality Types
- Extroverts: Undulating and changing fitness programs with a large social dynamic will keep an extrovert accountable. Group sports and programs such as Crossfit, Orange Theory, and circuit training might suit an extrovert.
- Introverts: Consistent, long-term, and self-focused exercise would best suit an introverted individual. Sports like surfing and programs like yoga, Thai-chi, swimming, bicycling and long distance running which take hours of time and self-awareness to become proficient at would promote adherence by introverts.
- Neurotics / unstables: Rigid, aggressive and extreme programs best suit neurotic types. One of the best sports would be MMA or football and the best types of programs for these individuals would be competitive bodybuilding due to the extreme nature it might boost the effects, commitment and rigid lifestyle accompanying each respectively.
- Stables: A calm and consistent program type would best suit a stables personality type. They could be successful in nearly any sport or fitness program but their approach will always be much more easygoing and steady. This type of person often has little problems with being accountable in the first place.
3. Develop Willpower
Willpower is not something that is inherent—it is a skill learned by individuals. This is a skill that even though learned can always be wavering. Sometimes you can’t find it, often times you can run out of it after using it for too long.
- Practice willpower by managing situation effectively and using logic to rationalize decisions rather than resorting to emotion.
- Use the art of distraction to avoid losing willpower. If you’re hungry, you may just be bored so go for a walk instead.
- Plan ahead: If you plan for a high-risk situation like eating out, you can more appropriately create a strategy around it.
Eysenck, H. J. (1966). Personality and experimental psychology. Bulletin of the British Psychological Society.
Eysenck, H. J. (1967). The biological basis of personality (Vol. 689). Transaction publishers.
Noar, S.M., Benac, C.N., and Harris, M.S. (2007) Does tailoring matter? Meta-analytic review of tailored print health behavior change interventions. Psychological Bulletin, 4, 673-693. abstract