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The Family Feud Part I – Psychology of Weight Loss

You can’t change your weight until you change your mind!  That is a simple fact of weight loss and wellness life that those of us who work in this field have known for a very long time.  In order to create lasting healthy change, you must address more than just your body.  You must also address your mind!  After all, what you do is a direct result of what you think.  There is no great mystery here about which comes first as in that popular philosophical discussion regarding the chicken and the egg.  The physical act of eating ALWAYS FOLLOWS the mental decision to eat.  It IS a decision.  The tricky part about this decision to eat, however, is that it is not always a conscious decision.  In my opinion, weight management is primarily a decision-making problem.  Change your thinking and your body will follow.  It can’t help it!  This is also the very foundation of mind/body medicine.  The truth is this:  There is one incredible moment when the decision to eat is made and, if you can manage that moment, you can solve this problem.  So, if you’re someone who is struggling with your weight, please lend me an ear.

Today I want to introduce you to a concept that may literally change the way you think about dieting and eating forever.  If you’re like most dieters, you have already spent more time and money than you care to remember trying to solve this weight control puzzle.  I know how difficult, confusing and emotional this is for you.  Frankly, one of the primary reasons that people fail at weight control is that they continue to look in the wrong place for the solution.  Most people continue to search outside for the perfect diet, the best program or that illusive magical short cut.  The truth, however, is that the solution to this problem isn’t outside at all. It’s inside!

Now let me begin with a brief explanation of what I believe is at the very heart of this weight control struggle.  You see, all people operate in terms of dichotomies or opposites.  As a matter of fact, this is also how the world operates.  It’s the rhythm of life.  There is high/low, happy/sad, awake/asleep, good/evil and the list goes on.  Opposing forces dominate our world and balance our existence.  Regarding personality, all of the primary schools of psychology agree and incorporate this notion into their respective theories.  Depending on which theory you review, each has terms that represent these two polar opposites engaged in this internal power struggle.

For the purpose of our discussion here, however, I want you to think of these two opposing forces in these simple terms. I want you to consider these two parts as the ADULT and the CHILD.  These terms are used by those who practice a form of psychotherapy called Transactional Analysis.  In short, Transactional Analysis uses the concept of how adults and children interact as the basis for understanding all of human behavior.  Now, since I don’t want to wander too far into the weeds here, let me bring this all back to weight control.

With that in mind, I want to provide you with some insight regarding what happens, inside your head, every single time you make an eating decision.  I call it The Family Feud.  Let me explain by reminding you of something I just discussed and something you probably already know.  There are two parts of your personality that are struggling for control of your health.  There is the responsible and mature part of you that cares deeply about what you eat, how you look and what you weigh.  Let’s call this part the ADULT.  However, there is also this impulsive and immature part of you that doesn’t care a bit about what you eat, how you look or what you weigh.  That’s the part that is perfectly happy with the way things are and has no interest at all in changing.  Let’s call this part the CHILD.  You see, the conflict between these two parts of yourself is at the very heart of your weight control struggle.  It’s the responsible, adult part of you that decided to read this article in search of some answer or insight.  This is the part of you that is tired of being unhealthy and overweight and wants desperately to change.  Let me assure you that the child part wants nothing to do with your desire for weight loss.  I understand this conflict very well.  It’s my area of expertise.  As a matter of fact, I developed an entire program that specifically addresses the mental part of weight management called The Inner Diet.

The conflict between these two parts of you is what I call The Family Feud.  I call it The Family Feud because it reminds me of the battle for control that goes on between children and their parents all the time.  I bet that if you close your eyes and listen to your thoughts, you can actually hear these two parts arguing.  You know exactly what I’m talking about.  It’s almost as if there are two totally different people living inside your head.  I can assure you though that this is absolutely normal and exists within all of us.  For example, one part of you wants to get healthy and end this pattern of weight gain and unhealthy eating while the other part is trying to convince you that it won’t work, you don’t have the time or it’s far too much effort.  Living this way is a little like trying to drive forward with one foot on the gas and the other foot firmly on the brake.  The result is that you get nowhere as the child within you will make every excuse under the sun to keep you right where you are…overweight, out of control and frustrated!

So listen to your thoughts for a moment and see if you can tell who is in charge of your health.  Is it the adult or is it the child?  This will determine what you do today and will directly impact your potential for success with weight loss and healthy living.  It all begins with your thoughts.  As a professional who has worked with countless overweight people, I know that being overweight is costly.  It creates unhealthy physical demands on your body and takes an enormous, emotional toll on your spirit.  The ultimate solution to weight control lies in solving the conflict between the adult and the child within you.  This is where the power is and this is where the answer lies.  Just as parents frequently butt heads with their children, so do these two parts of you.  You know how it goes when a child wants to do something it shouldn’t and the adult says “No”.  The child tries every trick in the book to get what it wants.

Children, by nature, are emotional decision-makers. They don’t consider the long-term effects of their actions.  They just want what they want and they want it NOW as they are driven by a desire for instant gratification.  As a result, they need a responsible adult to look out for them. This is exactly how this works with your eating decisions.  You have been allowing the impulsive child part of your personality to make your eating decisions and your body, your health and your spirit have been paying the price.  The key to changing this pattern is to take charge of that emotionally driven and impulsive child.  It’s time for you to become the responsible adult.  It’s time for you to start winning The Family Feud by taking control of that part of you that has sabotaged every attempt you have ever made at weight control.

I hope you find this bit of insight and imagery helpful.  I know for a fact that this Family Feud concept can create a kind of life altering awareness that can literally change your life forever.  I have seen it happen with my own eyes.  In next month’s newsletter, I will offer you Part 2 of this article.  In Part 2, I will introduce you to an activity that will increase your awareness of this internal battle and show you how you can begin to take charge of this mental tug-of-war that I call The Family Feud.  Until then, think about this concept and how it plays itself out in your life.  So now let me ask you this.  Are you still listening or has the child distracted you?

Wishing You Great Health,
Dr. John H. Sklare

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Lesley AsendorfThe Family Feud Part I – Psychology of Weight Loss