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Inner Control, One of Six Mental Roadblocks to Weight Loss.

Change: A Mental Makeover
Dr. John H. Sklare
Part IV
Inner Control

This is the fourth entry in my six part series addressing the six most common mental roadblocks to successful weight loss.  In this blog post, I will discuss an issue called Inner Control.  To put yourself in the mindset of a person who struggles with this issue, please consider the following questions:

  • Does the person feel like their weight and eating is out of their control?
  • Does the person honestly believe that they CAN lose weight and keep it off?
  • Does the person believe they have enough willpower to succeed?

Lack of Inner Control is a real issue for many people who struggle with dieting and weight control.  As a matter of fact, my research with The Inner Diet clearly demonstrates that this is a serious problem for 49% of all dieters.  That’s basically one out of every two people who walk into your office.  So, what exactly is Inner Control and how does this issue interfere with a person’s ability to control their eating and manage their weight?

Inner Control is a measure of just how much personal power and control the dieter believes they have over their weight and their eating.  It’s a measure of the strength of their willpower and the degree of their confidence.  Basically, those who struggle with this issue, express two primary negative beliefs.  First, they don’t believe that they CAN succeed at losing weight, and secondly, should they lose weight, they believe that they lack the willpower that it takes to keep that weight off!  The real danger here is that these strong underlying and self-defeating beliefs alone can prevent the person from ever succeeding at weight control.  Lack of self-belief can and often does lead directly to failure’s front door!

If I am successfully making my point, you’re beginning to understand this issue much better.  Wanting to control your eating, while at the same time believing that you can’t, is a little like wanting to drive forward with one foot on the gas and the other foot pressed firmly on the brake.  The result is that you get nowhere!  Negative expectations set the stage for weight loss failure.  Replacing those negative thoughts of inability with positive thoughts of capability is what people, with Inner Control issues, must do in order to succeed.  In short, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to be successful at weight control with that discouraging voice of self-doubt constantly whispering in your ear.  Unfortunately, this is what people with Inner Control issues face every single day.

From a psychological perspective, there are four stages to acquiring Inner Control.  These four stages are:  (1) Awareness, (2) Acceptance, (3) Cognitive Restructuring and (4) Developing Personal Control.  Since the key to change is awareness, the individual must first become aware that this issue is a problem for them.  I developed The Inner Diet Questionnaire specifically to create that awareness.  The next step demands that they own this issue and accept that their lack of Inner Control is interfering with their ability to manage their eating and control their weight.  Third, they must engage in directly challenging their self-defeating belief system by engaging in a strategy called Cognitive Restructuring.  Cognitive Restructuring is a technique that teaches how to refute negative, defeatist oriented thinking and replace it with positive, achievement oriented thinking.  The heart of this technique is based on the power of what is called the self-fulfilling prophecy…self-talk directly influences outcome.  And fourth they must develop personal control by practicing this new thinking in real life situations.  In learning theory, this is called Transfer.  Here are a couple of very simple examples of what a dieter can do to encourage Transfer and help strengthen their Inner Control.

One suggestion for strengthening ones Inner Control is to simply reduce temptation.  As much as this sounds like basic common sense, most people ignore this simple step.  The dieter should remove from their home all the foods that they are trying to avoid.  If it isn’t there, it simply can’t be eaten and this is very helpful in the early stages of healthy lifestyle change.  Control Rewards are another effective method for increasing Inner Control.  The person simply places a checkmark on a piece of paper every time they successfully resist a strong temptation to stray from their program.  When they have accumulated ten checks (or whatever number makes sense to them), they give themselves a reward.  The reward can be anything enticing that the individual considers motivational and worth the effort (a new item of clothing, an hour at the spa or a movie for example) but it should not be food.

As I just mentioned earlier, the first step to creating change of any kind is awareness.  The more aware you become of a behavior, the greater the opportunity you have to control and change it.  You see, from a psychological standpoint, it is much more difficult to do something negative when you know that it’s negative.  It’s this simple awareness that is the catalyst for change.  As I see it, awareness is like a beam of light in a dark room.  It breaks through the darkness, shows the way and allows you to move with confidence.

Lack of Inner Control is a serious obstacle for nearly half everyone that walks into your office.  Acknowledging and addressing this issue makes the dieter a wiser and stronger soldier, provides them with more self-confidence and increases their potential for success.  At the end of the day, being successful with weight loss is really all about change.  And, as I always like to say “You will never become who you want to be, by remaining who you are“.  If you truly want to help your clients ease the sting of lifestyle change and find weight loss success, you simply must help them address the underlying emotional factors that ultimately shape and determine the fate of their struggle.  When all is said and done I absolutely believe the following to be true…you can’t change your weight until you change your mind!!  Thank you for your time today and I look forward to seeing you in my next blog post where I will introduce you to what ranks fifth on my list of the six most common mental roadblocks to weight loss called…Commitment!

Wishing You Great Health,

Dr. John H. Sklare

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Lesley AsendorfInner Control, One of Six Mental Roadblocks to Weight Loss.