Are you struggling to lose weight? Feel like you don’t have the willpower to make it happen?
Your emotional relationship with food and your environment could be hampering your ability to succeed. Knowing whether you are a moderator or a sustainer, knowing which of the “four tendencies” determine your relationship to inner and outer expectations, and identifying the emotional and psychological needs that you are meeting with food can all help you design a weight loss program that properly addresses your emotions and environment.
In this episode I discuss two quizzes made by Gretchen Rubin:
Moderator versus abstainer (more an article than a quiz: https://gretchenrubin.com/2012/05/quiz-are-you-an-abstainer-or-a-moderator/)
The Four Tendencies https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4232520/gretchenrubinfourtendenciesquiz
This episode is brought to you by Testing Nutritional Status: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet. Everything you could ever need to know to optimize your nutrition, all in one place. Easier to find and use than ever before. Get your copy at https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/cheatsheet
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Read the Transcript Here
Although calories are king when it comes to weight loss, when it comes to making weight loss successful and sustainable, there’s a lot more than math.
Hi I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com and this is Chris Masterjohn Lite where the name of the game is “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!” And today we’re going to talk about the contribution of emotions and environment to weight loss success.
If you have no problems complying with a weight loss regimen, losing weight, and keeping it off, then this isn’t that relevant to you, but if you struggle to comply with a weight loss regimen or you
struggle to get the pounds off or to keep the pounds off, then this could be really important.
It’s important to understand how we relate to our food and how our environment impacts us in terms of our ability to comply with a weight loss program. There’s two quizzes that I’m going to recommend taking that are both from Gretchen Rubin’s site. One is to find out if you’re a moderator or an abstainer. The other is to find out which of the Four Tendencies you have in terms of how you respond to expectations. Both quizzes I’m going to link to in the description and even though you can kind of guess what you are when I’m talking about them, I highly recommend taking the quizzes because I can’t talk about them fully here; and even so, most people will—or people will often find that once they take the quiz, they see it differently than they had before they took the quiz.
So the first is moderator versus abstainer. A moderator is someone who has no problem setting rules and complying with those rules. An abstainer is someone who needs to have the switch on or off; there’s no in between. There’s no rule that you can say that the switch is at 40%. So I’m a moderator. I could sit in front of my favorite kind of pie and I could say, “I’m going to eat 300 calories of this pie.” Then I’d weigh it out and I’d eat.
An abstainer, unless they hated the pie, if the abstainer loved the pie the same way that I love the pie, the abstainer would not be able to moderate the pie.They would have to completely abstain from the pie or eat the whole thing. If you’re an abstainer, it’s important to know because that means that the setup of your environment is extremely important to your success. You cannot have things in the house or in the office that are going to give you trouble moderating. You must have your environment clear of your triggers.
The second thing to figure out is which of the Four Tendencies you have in terms of how you respond to expectations.Gretchen Rubin has outlined these as Questioners, Rebels, Upholders and Obligers.
A Questioner needs to understand the rationale of anything before complying with an expectation whether it’s their own or someone else’s expectation. The Rebel just does what they want. An Upholder can easily meet all expectations or will easily without thinking of it respond as if to comply with all expectations, but the Obliger, which I think is the key one for weight loss.
The Obliger is the person who, the person who has great difficulty responding to self-made expectations and responds easily to outward expectations.That person will struggle with weightloss unless they have outward accountability. This person often looks at things they did in the past and says, “I don’t know why I can’t do that anymore.” Usually it’s because they think that them doing it is a function of them, but actually it’s a function of their environment. Before, they had external accountability that made them do that thing. Now they don’t have it. They try to impose it on themselves and they can’t.
So if you are an Obliger, then you’re going to need an accountability buddy, or you’re going to need to publicly declare your weight-loss goals to the extent that you are punished in some way or embarrassed in some way when you don’t adhere to them. You could say to your family, “I need to meet these goals. Help me meet these goals.” If you look at these cases and you say, “Well, I don’t know if I can negotiate this with my family because I need to have pizza in the house because I can’t moderate my pizza intake, but my family is going to hate me if there’s no pizza in the house.” You just need to communicate with your family or whoever you’re living with, whoever you’re sharing your environment with, and negotiate something that works for everyone. Maybe you can say, “Whenever you want to eat pizza, we can go out together and you guys can eat pizza and I’ll order something else, but we’re not going to keep pizza in the freezer because it’s too easy for me to pop it into the oven.”
A couple of other things to think about are what are the reasons for your overeating? So in those cases it might be that you overeat whenever there’s no accountability on you or you overeat whenever there’s something to overeat in the house. But you could also be overeating because it fulfills a specific need for you. For example, you may be overeating or eating foods that you shouldn’t to reward yourself for things that you accomplished. That can be a real problem if your accomplishment is weight loss because every time you lose a pound, you’re going to eat enough food to reward yourself to gain it all back; you’re not going to net lose weight. Or you could eat when you’re stressed, you could eat when you’re emotionally disturbed, you could eat when you’re angry, you could eat when you’re depressed.
In both of those cases you need to address those emotional needs in some other way.You need to think about what else besides food could you reward yourself with. You need to think about what else besides food could you use to deal with those emotions.
There are many techniques out there, mindfulness, meditation, gratitude journaling, all kinds of things beyond the scope of this weight-loss discussion. And similarly you can think of all kinds of things that you could reward yourself with. There’s leisure activities that you might enjoy, going out to the arts, you know, who knows, whatever you like, right? But you need to understand the role that the food is playing in your life and find ways to fulfill those needs because if you don’t fulfill those needs, you’re never going to be able to stop using food for them.
A good rule of thumb is that if you’re always questioning why you don’t have enough willpower, it’s because you’re putting too much of a burden on your will power and you’re not addressing the other things discussed in this episode.
The audio of this episode was enhanced and post-processed by Bob Davodian of Taurean Mixing. You can find more of his work at taureanonlinemixing.com.
This episode is brought to you by Testing Nutritional Status: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet. Everything you could ever need to know to optimize your nutrition all in one place. Easier to find and use than ever before. Get your copy at chrismasterjohnphd.com/cheatsheet.
All right, I hope you found this useful. Signing off, this is Chris Masterjohn. This has been Chris Masterjohn Lite. And I will see you in the next episode.