Mental Weight – Your Key To Long Term Weight Loss
At Motivation, we have developed a unique concept called ‘mental weight’. The idea behind the Mental Weight concept is to treat the root cause of being overweight or obese.
We believe that dieting alone deals only with the symptoms. A client’s mental weight is worked out by the client answering a set of questions (completed online). The questionnaire uncovers both the physical and, where relevant, psychological triggers for poor food or lifestyle choices.
The report that is produced from conducting a mental weight questionnaire helps our clients to become aware of where they are going in relation to the behaviours and perspectives that underpin their daily choices. The good news is that these scores can change dramatically, even over the course of just a few weeks. So, a ‘poor score’ (in other words, a high mental weight) can be lowered significantly over time.
The questionnaire is carried out monthly with all clients – even Maintenance Programme clients (ie. those who have reached an ideal weight and continue to attend our clinic on a monthly basis to ensure they are staying at that new, healthier weight) – in order to monitor and track changes in behaviour and/or attitudes. Usually the changes are positive as the client progresses through their weight loss journey but, if things slip, it is a very useful tool to highlight caution areas and to readjust behaviour to come back to healthier habits and attitudes once more.
Long Term Success
The mental weight ‘score’ is a reflection of how healthy or unhealthy a person’s habits and attitudes are. If a client has very healthy scores, their mental weight will be low, or reflective of a healthy weight. If scores are poor – as is often the case for new clients – the mental weight will tend to be high. We believe that, if there is no intervention – in terms of changing habits and attitudes to become healthier – then the client’s actual, physical weight will only increase, possibly as high as the mental weight.
It is very rewarding for clients who reach and maintain a healthy weight to go back over and analyse their very first mental weight report, compared with today’s current report in order to realise the vast changes they have made to their lifestyle, their habits and even their attitudes.
The mental weight reports are central to our programme: we know that clients are more successful if they manage to change their mental weight to become one that is reflective of their healthy, goal weight. In fact, 95% of dieters regain the weight they initially lost because they never change their mental weight. It is crucial to address habits and attitudes in order to enjoy long-term success. This is why the Motivation Programme is so successful and why clients manage to not just lose weight, but keep it off many years later. For more information on proof it works, click here.
What is the Purpose of Mental Weight?
The goal is to reduce the mental weight so that it is in line with the desired, healthy body weight. The idea is to identify and reduce a person’s mental weight so that it matches their desired weight – giving them the opportunity to reach and maintain their desired weight.
To begin with, a person can weigh 12 stone but, due to a host of unhealthy habits and attitudes, their mental weight could be much higher (for example, 16 stone). This is the case for many new clients who attend our clinics. In these cases, we can point out many examples of unhelpful habits (such as poor sleep or blood sugar control) or attitudes and emotions (such as perfectionism) that may explain the client’s weight. This is their ‘why’ – a combination of poor daily choices and unhealthy states of mind that lead to the behaviours of overeating, poor food choices (such as junk food or high sugar items) and a lack of physical activity.
Another scenario encountered in our clinics is that, on a first meeting with a client, we discover that their mental weight is actually much lower than their actual weight. This can be the result of a lot of positive psychological work that the client has engaged in (for example, therapy) so that they have a positive self-image. Or, as is often the case, it can be the result of the overweight or obese client having ‘lost touch’ with the reality of their weight and size. In other words, they may have lost touch with their body and no longer see it as it is.
They may see themselves as slimmer than they actually are. In this case, an consultant may suggest that – once in the privacy of their own home – the client strips down to their underwear and looks in the mirror. Done regularly, this can help a client to get back in touch with the reality of their weight.
Changing Habits and Attitudes
It is not possible, nor desirable, to attempt to change too many habits and/or attitudes at once. That is why our Consultants analyse the mental weight reports and then discuss with the clients which two changes they would like to tackle first. That could be, for example, simply to achieve the consumption of 2 litres of water each day. The second habit could be to avoid rewarding yourself with food, and to choose non-food rewards, such as buying a magazine or having a long soak in an Epsom salt bath.
Clients are encouraged to work on themselves, using a number of support tools – including Motivation audio files and books – in order to change habits and attitudes into more positive ones. For example, when it comes to perfectionism, clients can listen to a set of audio files and read material about the common ‘black and white’ thinking that does not serve them well when it comes to weight loss. The paradox of perfectionists is that they can have extraordinarily high standards, but actually look very dysfunctional in terms of their achievements or their health – for instance, the morbidly obese perfectionist or the clever college student who fails to finish their college degree – they’re so perfectionist that they can’t actually achieve their goals as it’s all or nothing.
At Motivation, we believe that half the battle is awareness of these triggers. If you are aware that you are a perfectionist, and tend to be hard on yourself, you can catch yourself and use a different, gentler type of self-talk. This can have drastically different outcomes: the person who used to overeat or binge due to feelings of inadequacy, for example, can stop that process in its tracks and they can use a new, more helpful behaviour. They may practice relaxation or meditation techniques or they may write in a journal. But the outcome is different and much more helpful to them in their endeavour to lose weight.
Our consultants are trained in a technique called Motivational Interviewing (MI) which helps the client themselves to come up with the answers in terms of how to change their behaviour (and their motivation for doing so). Read more about this here. Ideally a client will leave their weekly meeting with their weight loss consultant with a simple, but effective, plan for the week ahead which will focus on two aspects of their behaviour or attitude that they will change. It is these small, but consistent changes that eventually groove a new neural pathway in their brains and soon become automatic.
Habits: Which Ones Count?
The more we do something the more it becomes the norm and eventually we do it automatically. This is what we call a habit. It is claimed that repeating the same thing for 21 days consistently can form a habit. This is a guideline and is dependent upon experience and personality. It is certainly a good start, but remember that old habits die hard once the neuropathic pathways have been formed so can easily be reactivated. Keeping good habits in place takes discipline and commitment, especially when inspiration fades and reality sets in. Like anything worth doing, repetition is the key to success and using a daily checklist helps to monitor progress along the way.
When completing a mental weight questionnaire, clients will typically be asked questions about the following habits:
– Emotional eating
– Reward eating
– Alcohol intake
– Blood sugar control
– Water intake
– Special occasions
– Meal duration (ie. speed of eating)
– Fat intake
– Sugar intake
– Meal and TV (ie. do you eat in front of the tv?)
– Leftover food (ie. do you leave food on your plate?)
– Caffeine intake
– Food at night
– Number of meals
– Tastes (ie. for unhealthy foods)
Attitudes: What Sorts are Helpful?
As well as habits, our attitudes are also crucial in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Negative attitudes will only serve to thwart our good efforts and intentions, whilst cultivating positive attitudes will bring us closer to our weight loss goals. Unfortunately, our thoughts can become distorted or negative, often leading to negative behaviour such as binge eating or self-sabotaging. The skills of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), once put into practice in everyday life, can be extremely powerful in helping to transform negative thoughts into more positive, realistic and constructive thoughts that finally allow us to succeed in weight loss. In the weekly Motivation sessions, our consultants discuss simple CBT techniques that clients can use to change an unhealthy attitude – such as perfectionism – into a more helpful and rational one.
The types of attitudes that we ascertain in the mental weight report includes:
– Positive and negative motivation
– Trust in others
Once aware of certain tendencies, a client can start to work on a new way of seeing things. But old patterns die hard sometimes. With this in mind, some clients find using ‘mantras’ are a useful way to break the habit of negative thinking or perfectionism. By using mantras, clients can halt the ‘automatic’, negative and self-deprecating thoughts that were developed in childhood or young adulthood, and played ‘on loop’, and replace them with positive and supportive phrases such as:
– Nobody’s perfect!
– All I can do is my best!
– I am choosing progress over perfection.
– Making a mistake is an opportunity to learn – I am human. Everyone makes mistakes.
– Everyone has a bad day sometimes.
– Making small changes to my habits is getting easier day-by-day.
– I can do this. I am doing this. I am changing.
– I have more energy with every day, and my clothes are feeling looser.
– It’s okay if some people don’t like me. No one is liked by everyone.
– I am feeling healthier, calmer and stronger with every day that passes.
– It’s okay if people see my imperfections – I’m human.
– It’s okay to be vulnerable.
If you are interested in finding more about the Motivation Programme, and if you are sick of dieting without success – as it merely addresses the symptoms rather than the cause – then please get in touch – book an initial assessment today.
If you would like to download a copy of the Mental Weight – Your Key To Permanent Weight Loss PDF, please click here.