Why do some people succeed while others fail when trying to lose weight?
A simplistic approach to obesity simply doesn’t work. It is so easy to think of obesity as the result of too much energy ingested and not sufficient energy used for physical activity. But there are various other factors that influence why people gain weight, why they want to lose it and why they either succeed or fail in losing it.
A. The Psycho-Biological Core:
Every human being has a basic psycho-biological core consisting of a wide spectrum of factors such as genetic makeup, physiology, susceptibility to diseases, exercise tolerance (some individuals can just not do as much exercise as others), gender, formal age, state of health, need for pleasure, need to eat (this is one of the most basic human needs that drives us to see about food and satisfy hunger), the individual’s self- identification (our attempts to define who we are and what we should be).
Each one of these factors can influence weight. To give one example, namely genetic makeup, some people have a tendency to gain weight much more easily and rapidly than others. The latter may have basic metabolic rate and be able to eat as much food as they like without gaining a gram, while those with a tendency to pile on the kilos, may have so-called ‘thrifty genes’ which are programmed to convert food to fat.
It is important to determine which of these are playing a role in your life and tailor your weight loss program accordingly.
B. Cultural Factors:
- Our inherited beliefs and values, include:
- Attitudes – Some people regard food as essential, but uninteresting, while to others it is the be all and end all of their life.
- Faith – Food is often an important aspect of Faith with certain foods being regarded as ‘holy’ and others as ‘unclean’.
- Self-Efficacy – Those who are in control of their lives can embark on programs and probably succeed, while those not in control, fail.
- Perceptions of Health – Many obese people regard themselves as healthy and do not believe that being overweight can cause serious complications diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Perceptions of the truth of information – If you are gullible and believe everything you hear about fad diets, magic slimming pills and instant solutions, you will be a target for every advertisement.
- Human values that influence our reaction to obesity, include:
1. Individual or community orientations – some communities revere obesity and regard fat individuals as healthy.
- Speed of gratification – While our ancestors were patient and prepared to work and wait for results, we expect solutions in a wink even with our diet programs.
- Perceived benefits – It is practically impossible to motivate someone to lose weight if they can’t perceive the benefit of doing so.
- Locus of control – Do you feel that you are in control of your life and all its aspects, or do you feel like a helpless baby torn in different directions by forces beyond your control? If it’s the latter, you will also fail to follow a diet.
- Aspirations – If need to be determined to reach your goal, only then you will get that with flying colors.
C. Life Experiences:
The experiences and individual has had in his or her life can determine how he or she will react to being obese. If you have learnt to associate food with approval or love, then it will be hard to change your mindset to viewing food as ‘the enemy’. If you have suffered emotional trauma, then you may well turn to food for comfort and find that you are gaining weight dramatically. Before you can embark, you will have to come to grips with all the past events which can distract your diet plan.
If you have been taught to lick your plate clean or have always been threatened by the starving millions who would appreciate your food, then you will have become programmed to eat every scrap of food that is presented to you. Or if your family has the habit of overeating or not participating in sport for any physical activity, then you will have to break these habits before you can succeed with weight loss.