Psychology Of Weight Loss

Psychology Of Weight Loss

This article discusses the psychology of weight loss and how can we help ourselves to maintain the weight that we accomplished. This is done using mind exercises that will develop the acceptance of the new body image.

Eating right and exercising are very important pillars for good health.
When we lose weight, sometimes is difficult to keep it off for a long period of time. We begin to feel shame that the results of our efforts did not last.

Sometimes we find that is not easy to walk away from unhealthy food.
We have to improve our self-esteem and take control of our lives.
For that we have to make a commitment to ourselves: to be present to avoid distractions and feelings of dissatisfaction that push us to overeat.

Tough decission

What do thin people do different to maintain a healthy weight?

Thin people have a natural mechanism to keep their weight off by using behaviors that regulate their optimal daily caloric intake.
Thin people have developed the habits that makes them eat just the right amount of food to maintain their weight.

In general, thin people will eat less. If they eat a lot in one day, they will either delay their meals, or naturally eat foods that are low in calories. They most likely developed this habit when they were young. They tend to do more exercise, chew their food slower, and eat more natural foods.

We can not eat whatever we want and expect to have a healthy weight unless we learn to love healthy foods and eat in moderation.

Romanian Cold Meat Salad

Our Brains Do Not Want Us To Lose Weight

Our efforts are sabotaged by a complex mechanism that wants to restore our bodies to the original weight after a period of diet.

Advantages in Psychology and Neuroscience found interesting data that can help us to find the answer. Studies have shown that there are hidden mechanism for homeostasis, (the tendency of the systems of the body to maintain internal stability) through functions of the different parts of the body when there are stimulus or situation that disturbs its normal condition and/or functions.

Our body does not want to lose weight. Our brains are programmed to regain weight because the body has its own psychology of hidden self image. It has it’s own idea of how much our body should weigh.

Brain in a vat 

Studies at Columbia Medical Center show that after we lose weight, there is an initial release of dopamine. The brain interprets this weight loss as a threat of survival. This creates negative emotions that stimulates you craving to eat in order to create pleasure.

After you lose weight, there are biological mechanisms that activated for the function of gaining back the lost weight that we had before the diet. Energy conservation mode and starvation mode kicks in to regulate the internal system.

This causes hunger pangs and the body conserves the energy created.
This is an internal regulator that pushes you to find comfort.
This mechanism, along with the stresses of: daily life, work, business, social interactions, and the relationships with our spouses/ children/ coworkers add to the stress. Too much stress will push us to look for comfort in eating more, especially eating comfort foods if we do not find comfort in other areas of our lives. This will cause weight gain.

We have to develop the psychological ability to maintain the weight off by creating habits that will go against the urges to create lasting success.

/>Bikini woman on beach

Sustain Weight Loss Applying Psychology

During and after the process of losing weight, we have to apply psychology if we want to keep the weight off.

Formerly overweight people have an inner body perception that they have a larger body because the brain did not catch up with the weight loss.
The internal body image can be improved in 8-10 weeks.

In a quiet place, we have to relax for a moment and pay attention to our breathing, then, we must ask ourselves “how do I want to look?”, “how do I deserve to look?” and “how do I desire to feel?”. Then we use imagination to visualize and feel the answer.

This daily technique will bring the upgrade of the new self image into the brain naturally through the days to come. This will cause good feelings and you will feel proud of yourself. This will help us keep the good daily habits of eating healthy and doing exercise to maintain the new weight.

The use of imagination/visualization daily will align the biology of brain and body with the conscious and subconscious mind.

Sometimes our conscious mind generates thoughts that are not truth. We have to recognize the good thoughts and keep them, while getting rid of the bad thoughts by asking: “why am I thinking this way?”, “is this thought helping to achieve my goal or is blocking it?”, and “What can I learn from this bad memory?”

We have to reset our unconscious and conscious by asking: “Do I feel attractive and sexy?” and then answering the question with something along the lines of “Of course, I feel attractive and sexy. “
In the process of losing and maintaining a healthy weight, we have to feel worthy of having the body we desire even if we are still in the process.

A Dream is an open Door to Success 

How To Avoid Sabotaging The Weight Loss

In order to succeed effectively, you must to learn to recognize triggers. People or foods can trigger us to overeat or have food cravings of the bad foods that we should not eat.
Losing weight can trigger fears of intimacy.
Stress can sabotage our weight loss if we do not recognize and deal with it.

There can be problems with weight loss resistance leading to sugar addictions.
We have to educate ourselves about nutrition and know our own limits.
Sometimes we try too hard that we fail, but we must persist. We must find a solution. During these times, it is important to stay calm and breathe.

The problem with gaining and losing weight, is that having the weight on and off can create a feeling of doubt in ourselves. We have to know ourselves, including the strengths and weakness.

It is necessary to develop an internal self worth. Pat yourself on the back when reaching a goal as a friend would do. We have to be our own best friend by encouraging ourselves.

Bråvalla Besökare (3)

We Have The Commitment To Keep The Weight Off.

Even if we have the commitment to keep the weight of, some of the people in our lives can be comfortable with our unhealthy weight, and without knowing it, they can help us sabotage our progress/commitment to ourselves. If we are empowered, these people can feel threatened .

Fear can arise when we commit to ourselves. The biggest fear is the fear of being more attractive.
Fear can arise when we fail or we are ashamed. We fear success too sometimes. We fear disappointment to yourself or others

There is not “try to do”. There is “do” .
“Do” or “not do” but never “try”.- Yoda

We can avoid sabotage by supporting and encouraging ourselves. Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. By talking to our loved ones, explaining the situation, and asking for their support; by making new supporting friends; by joining a community that support our goals and commitment; and by having support by a health expert or coach, we can support ourselves.

Bråvalla Besökare (4)

Develop Self Worth

You develop self worth with self-respect when we honor and respect ourselves. We can find happiness in small accomplishments. We must enjoy life when it brings good experiences and find the life lesson when life give us lemons. We have to be grateful and appreciative.

We take care of our bodies by eating healthy foods that nourishes your body, having enough rest, relaxation and sleeping well

Our self talk should be respectful and encouraging, avoid negative self talk.
We have to take care of ourselves. When we are healthy and take care of ourselves we can accomplish more and we feel better.
We have to give ourselves permission to accept a better us.

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We discussed in this article about the Psychology Of Weight Loss. 


10 thoughts on “Psychology Of Weight Loss

  1. Tanya

    Enjoyed reading your good points for keeping the weight off. My son has been living with me and I was eating more because I was cooking more of what he liked. He has not moved out, and I am cooking and eating less.

    • Hi Tanya, you tell us you are eating less now. Portion control is a good strategy to keep a healthy weight, choose fresh non processed nutritious foods when you go to the supermarket. I am sure your son will enjoy homemade food prepared with fresh ingredients next time he visits. Thank you for your comment.

  2. Although I am not petite, I have also struggle with weight loss for many years but I never considered the psychology of it.
    I have never considered that my brain and body would not want me to lose weight .
    Thanks for opening my eyes.
    You mention that stress can sabotage weight lost. I have heard that cortisol can actually prevent you from losing weight. What is your take on this?

    • Hi Valecia: Thank you for your comment. Yes, stress can sabotage weight loss through several mechanisms, it makes people want to eat soothing foods to compensate for the stressful situation. This is why when we are stress we have to stop, breath and drink a glass of water to stop the activation of cravings. Cortisol is a hormone produced normally by the Adrenal Gland located at the top of kidneys. Normal levels of cortisol help to avoid stress and inflammation, but when there is too much stress for a long period of time, it increases cortisol. High level of cortisol activates a mechanisms that accumulate fat specially around the waist and behind the neck.

  3. Mary-Ann

    Wow, so much information. A lot of things I didn’t know.
    Especially the part of biological mechanisms that want you to get back to your old weight.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Mary-Ann, the biological mechanisms explain why is difficult to maintain the weight loss for a long period of time. Now we have a technique that uses imagination/visualization to help us keep the weight off. Thank you for your comment.

  4. Humans evolved to live off the land – gathering local plants and killing the odd animal for meat. Sugar, unless in a seasonal crop of fruit wasn’t on the menu. It’s why honey is so highly prized in the animal kingdom, humans included. Our bodies and brains are programmed to stock up on this calorifically rich food when we come across it.

    Roll forward several tens of millennia to an era of sugar filled, great tasting foods. And drinks. And now everyone in the developed world is exposed to sugar unless they make a conscious decision to avoid it. It’s used in everything from ketchup to TV dinners, breakfast cereals and takeaway food. Just look at the sugar content in anything you eat that’s packaged.

    Fruit contains sugar. It’s natural rather than processed, but it’s still sugar. Too much of it and besides looking tubbier, the danger of developing diabetes raises its ugly head.

    If you’ve been raised on a diet of sweetened foods, natural unprocessed food will seem bland or unpalatable at first. But our bodies are designed to work best with such food, not from the sugar-rich, high-calorie foods we have access to today.

    Willpower plays a huge role in your relationship with food, especially if you’re feeling down or blue. Some chocolate or ice cream can help soothe the negative feelings. But doing a bit of exercise can soothe those feeling too. Not as instantly gratifying but instead of taking in extra calories you’re burning them off. Save the treats for when you can really appreciate them! 🙂

    • Hi Gary, yes, now we are exposed to sugar in so many processed foods.This is causing a lot of health problems including diabetes.I would be nice if we did not have to rely on willpower to eat healthy, that is the world we live in right now. This is why we have to choose carefully and retrain ourselves to natural unprocessed food and a good attitude. Thank you for your comment.

  5. Wow, this really helps one to process the changes in one’s mind to the changes that’s’ happened to one’s body. This is very useful and realistic for people who’ve lost weight but found it difficult to accept their new body. I love using visualization for changing how our minds respond to our world. It’s so necessary for us to develop new neural pathways and to support our emotional responses. Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful and practical post.

    • Hi Kathleen, thank you for your comment. Using visualization helps us to maintain the weight. If we do not do this, we probably gain the weight back because the brain does not want us to lose weight, it has not change the neural pathways, it is a survival mechanism.

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