Common Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight

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Why is it so hard to lose weight? It is not because we don’t know which foods to eat (and which to avoid). In most cases, persistent obesity is the result of irrational beliefs.

These are the things we tell ourselves consciously or unconsciously about the events in our lives and our reactions to them.

They’re why so many of us wind up using food to satisfy emotional, not physical, hunger. By replacing these beliefs with sound self-statements, it’s possible to change your eating behavior and your weight.

Start with self-acceptance

Few people recognize the incredible irony that underlies most cases of obesity that is, if you’re serious about losing weight, you must first learn to accept yourself. You must do so unconditionally, with all your eating and weight problems.

Putting yourself down for being fat, for falling short of your eating goals or for any other reason may feel like a powerful motivational tool. In fact, it hampers your efforts to change your eating habits.

Trap: If you habitually put yourself down, you’ll eventually come to view yourself as weak and unable to change and, perhaps, not worth changing.

Self-flagellation also makes you feel bad. And people regularly use overeating to soothe bad feelings. How does one move toward greater self-acceptance? There are two key strategies…

• Focus on behavior

Don’t confuse what you do with who you are. Just because you overeat (behavior) does not mean you’re a bad person (character).

Each of us does millions of things during a lifetime. Some are good. Some are bad. Learn to say, “Overeating is bad” rather than, “7 am bad.”

  • Change “should” and “musts” to preferences. Should and musts are among the most common and most destructive irrational beliefs. If you think that…
  • Life should be less stressful…
  • You should be able to eat whatever you want…
  • You must become thinner…
  • Other people must treat you fairly…

…then you’ll feel angry and miserable when these demands aren’t met.

Let’s face it. Life isn’t fair, and others don’t always treat us the way we’d like them to. Yet insisting that things be otherwise doesn’t change things. It just wastes time and energy and makes us chronically upset.

When we recast these demands as preferences, they lose their power to make us miserable.

Example: Don’t tell yourself, “I must be thin.” Tell yourself, “I prefer to be thin.”

The abcd method

Each time you catch yourself overeating, analyze the situation using the following simple technique. Some people find it helpful to do this in writing. Pause for a moment, and…

• Identify the Activating event

This is the situation that preceded your distress.

Examples: Your boss gave you a poor performance evaluation you had an argument with your spouse, you stepped on the scale only to see that you’d gained five pounds.

• Notice your irrational Beliefs about the negative event

In addition to using should and must and putting yourself down, irrational beliefs can stem from awful zing (blowing events out of proportion) and low frustration tolerance (viewing frustration and discomfort as intolerable rather than inconvenient).

Examples: “My boss should appreciate me more, and it’s awful that he/she doesn’t”…“My spouse must always be supportive and good natured”, “Dieting is too hard and I cannot stand it.”

There’s nothing wrong with feeling frustrated, depressed or angry occasionally. But when you convince yourself that these feelings are to be avoided at all costs, you subject yourself to needless pain.

• Consider the Consequences of your irrational thinking

The greater your awareness of your irrational beliefs, the easier it will be to see that they lead to undesirable consequences emotional and behavioral.

Example: If you believe life should not include problems and challenges, you’re likely to spend much of your time feeling resentful and discouraged. You’re also likely to avoid taking responsibility for choosing what to eat.

When you accept that restricting your eating may be difficult but not horrible or impossible, you can focus on pleasures other than eating.

• Dispute your irrational beliefs

Simply identifying problematic events, beliefs and their consequences isn’t enough. You must vigorously challenge your ineffective self-statements. Ways to dispute irrational beliefs…

  • Evidence. Is it proven that fat people are worthless? That you should always get what you want?
  • Logic. How does it follow that going off your diet once or twice means you’ll never lose weight?
  • Pragmatism. Is this belief really helping you to reach your goal? Would a different belief be more helpful?
  • Role-playing. Have a friend repeat your own irrational beliefs one at a time while you forcefully argue against them.

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