There Is A Reason You Can’t Lose Weight

When a medical doctor sits across from an overweight person they are frequently dismayed by their patient’s blood work, their triglycerides, their fasting glucose numbers, their elevated insulin, the doctor doesn’t understand why, despite repeated conversations, their patients is coming back year after year, only heavier. When I sit across from an overweight person, what dismays me more is that a smart, capable, determined person has been tricked into thinking less of themselves—by their own brain.

Source: http://independentfemme.com

I’m a doctor of brain and cognitive science. More than that I’m a formerly obese person. And nothing makes me madder than the myth that people are overweight because they’re lazy, or lack willpower.  When I was overweight I wanted desperately to get thin. And I can honestly say that the only thing I worked harder at was getting my PhD. Trying to control my eating took an enormous amount of my energy and resources. I threw myself into each new diet attempt, convinced that THIS time it was going to work.  I wish I’d known then what I know now: that only 1% of people actively trying to lose weight hit their goal and maintain it. 1%.  Would you start college if you only had a 1% chance of finishing? And yet millions of Americans are making just such a proposition over and over and over again, year after year, and no one thinks it’s weird.  Well, I thought it was weird. So after I got thin I turned all my academic attention to figuring out what I had done this last time that was different than anything I had ever tried before. The difference was: brain science.

The fact is that a brain hijacked by a diet high in sugar and flour blocks weight loss. It does this in three ways.

First, sugar and flour raise baseline insulin levels far past what our bodies were designed to handle. The elevated insulin not only sets us up for diabetes, but it turns out its blocking the brain from recognizing a critical hormone: leptin. Leptin is the hormone that signals to the brain that you are full and need to get moving. Without it we sit on the couch and eat and never feel full.

Second, after eating the average American amount of sugar for just three weeks, 22 teaspoons, the brain’s pleasure receptors do something called “down-regulating.” Essentially, to cope with the excessive stimulation, the brain takes some of its receptors offline. Meaning, to feel the same amount of pleasure next time, you’ll need to eat more sugar. The brain responds by turning off more receptors. And soon you have exactly the same cycle that the brain moves through to cope with drugs or alcohol. In fact the brains of obese people are frequently more down-regulated than the brains of those addicted to cocaine.  So they aren’t eating to feel good, they’re eating to try to feel normal.

Source: @Alamy stock photo

Third, willpower isn’t a dimension of your personality, something some people are born with and others simply lack. Willpower is a cognitive function and we all have about the same amount, fifteen minutes, give or take. And every day activities, like focusing at work, and keeping your patience in carpool, all deplete it. Meaning any successful diet MUST expect that your willpower will fail AT LEAST once a day and work anyway.

For the last two years I’ve been working with people around the world, helping them lose weight, but, more importantly, helping them keep it off for life. And the best part, beyond hearing that they’re off their statins and their cholesterol drugs, is hearing how their self-perception has healed.  Because when your brain overrides your best intentions time and time again you start to believe the worst about yourself. But it’s not true. Once the brain heals making those choices you want to be making becomes effortless. And your intentions and actions come into alignment.

From there you can do anything.

Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester and an expert in the psychology of eating. She is President of the Institute for Sustainable Weight Loss and CEO of Bright Line Eating Solutions, a company dedicated to sharing the psychology and neuroscience of sustainable weight loss and helping people live Happy, Thin, and Free.

8 Tips for Maintaining Weight Loss Based on a 20-Year National Study

To learn more about the science of weight loss, researchers founded the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) as a long-term study project back in 1994. There are currently more than ten thousand people who have joined in the project. Researchers compiled self-report data from subjects who have successfully maintained weight loss and the finding were published in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners.

The results from of the data showed that 90 percent of NWCR participants were still maintaining at least 10 percent weight loss 10 years after losing weight. These people had various ways to achieve that, but they also used eight common strategies, including:

  1. They eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet primarily prepared at home. On average, they consumed 1,306 calories per day, with only 24.3 percent of calories from fat.
  2. They eat breakfast. Studies have shown that regular breakfast is associated with low BMI.
  3. They have diet rules for weekdays, weekends, and holidays. Their food intake is very consistent from day-to-day.
  4. They exercise about 1-hour a day. About 75 percent of people expended at least 1000 calories/week in physical activity. Walking is the most common exercise used.
  5. They regularly drink low-calorie or no-calorie beverages, especially water. Only 10 percent of people drink sugar-sweetened beverages.
  6. They weigh themselves on a regular basis. Regular self-weighing may serve as an early alarm for weight regain.
  7. They spend limited time on watching TV. Most of them watch TV fewer than 10 hours a week.
  8. They sleep 7 or more hours a night. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 7 hours are more likely to be obese.
HOW IMPORTANT IS BREAKFAST
Image Credit: http://backtoedenwithliz.com

We know from research and our personal experiences that there are no “one size fits all” strategies for successful weight loss maintenance but these eight behavioral tips can be used as tools to develop a customized approach to maintain a healthy weight.

Reference

Raphaelidis L. (2016). Maintaining Weight Loss: Lessons from the National Weight Control Registry. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 12: 286-287. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nurpra.2016.01.009

Resource

The National Weight Control Registry, Providence (RI).

 

Consumer Use of Wearables for Weight-loss to Increase Nearly 20% in 2015

Are you one of the many who made a promise to yourself that you were going to lose weight this year?  New research already shows a staggering eighty-three percent of Americans have already lost the New Year’s weight loss resolution battle.

By the third week of January, 24 percent will quit their “get fit” programs, blaming their failures on the inability to resist the temptation of junk food (46%) or being spread too thin and/or too bogged down with the pressures of family and work (31%). A recent poll gaining a lot of buzz showed that fitness wearables and apps will increase twenty percent this year as American’s look to digital devices to help them shed extra pounds.

Instant.ly polled over 1,000 respondents nationwide to dive into the behaviors and psychologies behind the commitment to diet and exercise. For more findings and to download the full results of The Psychology of Weight Loss Study, please click here.

nudge-coach-logo-circle
source: http://nudgecoach.com

Some of the better-known weight-loss apps that could help you with your weight loss goals this year might be: Nudge and Nudge Coach, Lose It, Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal, Weight Watcher Mobile and Calorie Counter PRO MyNet Diary

Instant.ly™ is the world’s first on-demand consumer insights platform, providing brands with instant on-demand access to targetable consumers. The Instant.ly portfolio is comprised of Instant.ly Survey Tool™ for survey authoring and fielding, and Instant.ly Concept Test™ for early-stage concept screening. With Instant.ly, brand managers can collect quantifiable customer feedback from the web, mobile devices and social networks. Powerful enough to be used by Fortune 500 companies, and intuitive enough to be used by tens of thousands of small businesses, Instant.ly gives companies of all sizes a single platform – to build, promote and analyze the voice of the customer – when, where and how they need it. For more information visit www.instant.ly.

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