Diet With An Attitude

An approach to weight control that delves into attitudes about weight, shape, appearance, and health. It requires a re-alignment of America's infatuation with food and painless dieting.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Psychology Of Diet Preparation - Part 3

Here is the conclusion of the article I wrote for an unnamed publication. I hope you enjoy it.

3. Our sense of self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is a term used in psychology to describe an individual's belief that any action they take will have an effect on the outcome. It is not self-confidence, nor a belief that one is competent to do something, although it may involve both. It reflects our inner expectation that what we do will effect the results we want.

If I lack this belief, then I fear that whatever I do will not bring about my desired goal. Bordering on helplessness, it leads to self-defeating thoughts:

"No matter how carefully I diet, I don't lose weight . . ." "I could work out every day but I'll never get rid of these thunder thighs . . ." "I try to eat healthier foods but my hips just keep on spreading . . ." "No matter what techniques I try, nothing is going to keep the wrinkles away. . ."

If I have a strong sense of self-efficacy, my belief system and thought patterns will sound like:

"All I have to do is get motivated and I can whip my body into shape in a few weeks . . ." "I just need to pick a date to start my diet and I'll be on my way . . ." "I may have neglected myself for a while but some hard work will bring me back . . ."

Whether or not we start a diet, decide to get in shape, or start taking better care of ourselves is, ultimately, a personal decision which may, or may not, be made as we have planned. The difference lies in the expectation of success and it is always easier to set out on a journey we anticipate will be successful than it is to drag ourselves toward a goal where failure is the most likely outcome.

How can we combine these concepts to work for us in our desire to become slim, fit, and attractive?

We begin by examining our self-image and how we appear to others. Merely asking others "Do you think I'm getting too heavy?" doesn't work unless you have a brutally honest friend or you ask someone who dislikes you. Most of us are culturally trained to spare others' feelings so responses to such a question are more likely to be polite than true.

Concentrating on specifics can produce better feedback. Tell everyone that you're completing a survey for a class you're taking. Hand out a brief one page questionnaire requiring that each friend or coworker list three adjectives to describe different aspects of your physical appearance. Complete one of the sheets yourself. Make sure that the answers are anonymous by requesting that no names be used and having someone else collect the completed sheets.

Once you have the responses back, compare them to your own answers and see where the descriptions diverge. You may find yourself becoming a little defensive: "My hips aren't that big . . . my clothes do too make me look slim." This isn't an exercise to make you feel bad about yourself nor for you to gloat over the unexpected complimentary remarks you received. It is an organized effort to help you identify where your self-image and your image-in-the-world move apart. Those areas of divergence are a place to start in the effort to make the two images overlap.

Once the areas where work is needed have been identified, it is time to call on the immeasurable strength of our wonderful mind to start imposing the structure and organization we are going to need to effect the desired changes. Our mind can only get us where we want to go if it is supported by a belief in our ability to bring about a successful conclusion. Now is the time to dismiss any expectations of failure. There may have been many unsuccessful dieting and fitness attempts in the past. Leave them in the past. We are not somehow doomed to continue unproductive behaviors forever. We possess that jewel of evolution, the human mind, which is capable of just about anything. If we set our mind to any task, it will accomplish it, if our doubts and misgivings don't get in its way.

We build up our positive expectations by exploring our memories to pile up a long list of prior successes. There may be major benchmarks such as bringing about a promotion we wanted, orchestrating a fantastic event, or working ourselves into an intensely satisfying relationship. However, the small personal triumphs count the most but are usually quickly forgotten or discounted as unimportant.

Studying hard and obtaining a good grade in a difficult class clearly demonstrates your ability to bring about the results you want. Go for quantity: the day you smiled at someone across a smoky room and ended up with a brief but lovely affair; the report you brought in on time which no one expected; the night you mastered a spin on ice skates. Keep going: making the drill team, shooting a stolen basket, making your own prom dress, dying your hair a wonderful color in your own bathroom, catching a fly ball, figuring out new software on your computer, burning your first CD. The list can be endless and will be, as you keep remembering snippets of the past that you had long buried under more important things.

Keep this list close by and read it regularly. It is your personal self-efficacy pep squad.

You now know the areas you are going to work on and are developing a belief in the effectiveness of your own efforts. Now you need to identify the internal rewards that successful weight loss will bring. Feeling good about yourself, enjoying stepping on a scale, and easily zipping up your clothes are easy starters. Unselfconsciously walking to the pool in a brief suit is a reinforcement to dream about. Making a sales presentation with the confidence that you are looking your absolute best is an image to relish as you fall asleep. Seeing someone you love watch you admiringly, or seeing your competitive coworker jealous, underscores your resolve and keeps you going through the discomfort of dieting and the demands of boring exercise routines.

You know where you're going, you know what it's going to take, and you know you're going to be successful. Your mind is fully prepared, simply awaiting your day of decision. You'll make that decision whenever you choose because you are now in control.

3 Comments:

At 6:25 AM, Blogger Free ebooks online said...

Wow this is pretty deep, NLP yes?

It's all about beliefs yes?
We need to believe that something is possible and we are able to do something about it.

 
At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

positive self affirmations

You are constantly faced with challenges, difficulties, and problems every day of your life. They are unavoidable and one of the inevitable parts of being human. But as you draw upon your resources to respond effectively to each challenge, you grow and become a stronger person. When you look back over your life, you�ll see that you are the kind of person that you are because of all the difficulties and problems that you have had to overcome in your life. Without those setbacks, you could not have learned what you needed to know to developed the character and strength that you have at this point in your life.

 
At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Lorraine said...

people always find ways around. it is hard to believe that fat people especially ever follow any strict diet plan. their diet is to eat the diet and everything else

 

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