How to build self-belief in your ability to achieve permanent weight loss

Brick steps

It is much easier to achieve a goal if you believe that you can do it. We derive belief in our ability to do something from previous successes. We expect failure where we have failed before. This is intelligent learning from experience. If you’ve failed at losing weight before, your self-belief may be low.

If you have failed to lose weight on conventional diets, you are in very good company. Although diets often report very good outcomes when people finish the diet, the proportion of people who keep weight off beyond the end of the diet is very small. Research indicates that the majority of people on diets regain all the weight lost, and often more.

If you have come to think that no diet can help you, you may be quite right. If you think it is because there is something wrong with you, think again. There are problems with conventional diets which we are beginning to recognise.

There is something about conventional diets that make them fail us after the initial thrill of early weight loss. Part of the reason they fail us in the long term is that what or how you eat on a diet is too far from your normal eating patterns. Eating very differently from your lifelong patterns is very difficult to sustain and it is one of the reasons that diets in which you overhaul your eating overnight fail.  Appetite Retraining works the other way round. You change your eating habits one small step at a time and the weight falls off naturally.

A proportion of people see themselves as fated to stay overweight because they believe they are too overweight to lose weight permanently or that they have been overweight for so long that change is not possible for them.

Figures from America are helpful here. In the USA, the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) has 3,000 names. To get on to this register, the person must have lost at least 30lbs and kept it off for over a year. Impressively, the AVERAGE weight loss among the 3,000 listed people is 66lbs kept off for an average of 6 years! Over 90% of people on the list had previously tried to lose weight, so these very successful losers were previously “failed dieters”.

This shows that there are successful and unsuccessful weight loss attempts rather than successful and unsuccessful dieters.

The study also showed that nearly half the people had been overweight before age 11 so longstanding overweight does not prevent success. Almost half of the 3,000 people had one parent who was overweight and over a quarter had two overweight parents, which shows that even a possible genetic tendency to overweight in the family does not prevent successful weight loss and maintenance.

If your self-belief is low when you embark on Appetite Retraining it can change, and it will need to change as you encounter success. If your view of yourself remains fixed in “failed dieter” mode there is a greater chance that this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy because our beliefs exert a powerful effect on what we do. Sooner or later the underlying belief may re-assert itself and despite your conscious desire to stay slimmer, you may find yourself inexplicably creeping up in weight.

Appetite Retraining places change in self-belief and change in self-image at the forefront of the changes you make and the successes you experience.

How to build self-belief as you lose weight

  1. Visualise your intended weight loss as a pathway ahead of you. In the distance is the point that represents your goal. The specific changes to eating habits are stages of the journey. Notice that you are going to be moving along the path one manageable step at a time.
  2. When you make one stepwise change at a time, and it works, notice that it is you that is making the changes and achieving the success, not a clever diet. It is your own ability, such as strength or calmness around food that is enabling your weight to change.
  3. Third, and especially importantly, notice what it tells you about yourself that you have managed to do this. For instance, “I can change my eating patterns”, “I can be strong” or “I can be calm and in control around food”. You may need to do this very often to update your mental image of yourself as you go. It may seem repetitive, but that’s good. Chipping away at established negative beliefs can take time.

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