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Perfectionism and Weight Loss

Recently the American Society of Bariatric Physicians included an article on perfectionism in their July/August newsletter.  The article, written by Dr. John Sklare, stated that perfectionism is the third most common psychological issue interfering with weight loss and maintenance.  He also found that 51% of overweight individuals have a serious problem with this.

There are a few questions that he would like you to ask yourself:

  • Do you feel that once you cheat – your diet is over?
  • Do you believe that dieting means that you can never eat foods you like ever again?
  • Do you allow yourself any wiggle room when trying to eat healthier?
  • And finally, do you equate a minor slip with complete failure?

Dr. John Sclare has found that a perfectionist brings an unrealistic attitude towards weight management, expecting the impossible and having the “all or nothing” mentality.  The perfectionist only has to vary very slightly from their program to abandon their entire effort.

At some point or another, I’m sure that most of us have given in to a moment of weakness and eaten something that we feel has been “off limits”.  Unfortunately, once we have eaten it and deviated from our program we feel like failures and so we decide that we may as well eat “whatever we want”.  This behavior can doom us to failure and according to research, can result in problems such as:

  • Poor self-esteem
  • Guilty feelings
  • Pessimism about the future
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive behavior
  • Low motivation
  • An a Lack of self-belief

So, what can we do to have a more realistic and flexible approach?

  • Firstly, we must set realistic goals
  • Secondly, we have to change the way we think by challenging our irrational belief system
  • And finally, we have to be prepared for minor slips.  Dr. John Sklare recommends we do this by putting together a diet emergency kit.  This kit would include a list of a days’ worth of healthy meals and snacks and all their ingredients.  He suggests that if we slip we go to our emergency kit and follow the meal plan that we have put together, for the next 24 hours.

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