The Schools of Psychology and Weight Loss

How would the different psychological schools explain why it is so hard to lose weight?

Cognitive
(Albert Ellis, Martin Seligman, Aaron Beck)

The Problem: Irrational Thoughts

Negative

"I'll never...

"I'll always..."

"I can't..."

Irrational

"I should be as thin as...."

Solution

Track your irrational thoughts and find substitutes for them

Thought stopping

Cognitive Restructuring

Behavioral (B.F. Skinner, John Watson)

The Problem: Bad Habits

Something is reinforcing whatever you're doing now

Eating while watching TV

Large portion sizes

Solution

Remove current reinforcer

Reinforce yourself for different behaviors

Make small changes in your environment so that healthy eating is easy to do

Psychoanalytic (Freud)

The Problem: Unresolved Feelings

Past/Family/Childhod

Comfort Food

Solution

Gain Insight through psychotherapy

Resolve unconscious conflicts

Humanistic (Carl Rogers)

The Problem: lack of self acceptance

You don't like yourself, or you feel that part of you is "bad"

Lost connection with what is important to you

Your job has no meaning for you

Solution

Recognize that we're all imperfect

Learn to love yourself despite your faults

Reconnect with your talents, skills & hobbies. Nurture a sense of self-efficacy by becoming good at something you enjoy

Set up something to look forward to

New Job, new direction in your life

Biological

The Problem: Your Body and Brain

Heredity

Metabolic Rate

Your Age

We lose muscle and thus gain weight as we get older

Metabolism slows as we get older

Thyroid

Set Point Theory

Evolution: Our bodies have evolved to crave sugar, fat and salt (they used to be in very short supply) and to store fat in case of famine, so your body fights fat loss

sugar

increases insulin

over time, cells can develop insulin resistance

fat

Supernormal Stimuli

Foods you find at the supermarket are "supernormal" - that is, often larger than normal, more colorful and specifically designed with the mix of salt, sugar and fat to be addictive.

Solution

Consistent Exercise

Diet

water

reduce simple sugars

increase fruits and vegetables

Sociocultural

The Problem: Your Friends, Media & the "Culture of Consumption"

Group Pressures at Get-Togethers like at bars and parties

Expected Holiday eating

Television, Movies and magazines showing attractive and thin people

Food Advertisements are everywhere

Junk food is readily available all around you

Solution

Enlist help of current friends

Make New Friends - make group pressure work in your favor

Avoid the influence of media

Source: The Psych Files podcast

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