weight loss motivation

Being optimistic in life and the confidence it creates is generally considered important because it creates and sustains the motivation needed to reach set goals. However, there is a new twist to this argument as to how being optimistic affects ones chances of effectively losing weight.

Optimism has been shown by several researches to help individuals have stronger social relationships, lower rates of depression, reduce risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, become generally happier with life and have increased life span. With such remarkable effects, why then should being optimistic have any lesser effect on one’s weight loss efforts?

Surprisingly, this generally accepted norm of optimism being able to positively affect weight loss efforts have be debunked by Hitomi Saito and his team of researchers from Doshisha University, Japan. They discovered this after psychologically profiling 101 obese patients undergoing combined counseling, nutrition and exercise therapy at the Kansai Medical University Hospital Obesity Clinic over a six months period.

The result was arrived at by collating a patient’s psychosocial characteristics before and after attending the clinic by using questionnaires designed to identify each patient’s personality type.

The results showed that patients who were able to improve their self-awareness through counseling were more likely to lose weight than those who were not. In the final analysis, patients who started the program with high levels of self-orientation and optimistic characteristics were found to be less likely to successfully lose weight.

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While these results may at first seem contrary to long-held beliefs, they are however not entirely new because according to the researchers, "this result supports previous findings that some negative emotion has a positive effect on behavior modification because patients care more about their disease". The results suggest that allowing for optimism to develop during the course of therapy is by itself more effective than approaching therapy with a high degree of confidence and positive characteristics.

According to the researchers, "it is important to enhance patient’s self-effectiveness and self-control in order to reduce psychological stress and to maintain the weight loss." They equally attributed the success of the therapy not only to the psychological aspects of the research but to the total effect of the intervention of a holistic medical care team.

Does this mean that there is no place for optimism in effective weight loss therapy? The answer will depend on the type of optimism being portrayed by the individual.

The type of optimism is a function of the individual’s understanding of the vital difference between believing that he or she will succeed, and believing that he or she will succeed easily. In essence, it depends largely on whether the individual is a realistic optimist or an unrealistic optimist.

Unrealistic optimists often underestimate the setbacks and pitfalls they may encounter when trying to lose weight. They are more of the opinion that it is "negative thinking" when you express concerns, dwell too much on obstacles that stand in the way of your goals, or even entertain reservations.

With such thinking – especially believing that success will happen to them because the universe will reward them for their positive thinking – they may also overestimate how much weight they are going to lose, how quickly they will achieve it and the impact this improvement will have on their lives.

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Therefore, individuals with high unrealistic expectations of benefits from changing a behavior are least likely to succeed. Focusing on just what you want to the exclusion of everything else will cause your motivation to plummet when things suddenly don’t go as expected. An unrealistic optimist have the tendency of often going off on his or her diet plan with the belief that everything will still work themselves out in their favor.

Conversely, being a realistically optimistic individual requires being sincerely concerned about one’s health and body shape. This means being really honest through personal self-awareness about where one presently is concerning his or her weight and health compared to where they expect to be in the nearest future and also factoring in what it will take to get there.

Acknowledging that they are capable of succeeding but that there are bound to be setbacks in their weight loss efforts and success won’t come easily, realistic optimists put in more effort, plan how to deal with problems before they arise and persevere in the face of setbacks.

Optimism no doubt can assist you in losing weight once you make it realistic by combining your positive attitude with an honest assessment of the challenges that you may come across along the way. Therefore, have a plan, create a leverage that will give you a strong reason to commit to your goal, and also remember to celebrate your little successes to help you recommit.