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Losing the Weight, Keeping It Off: What Will It Take?

Posted Mar 01 2010 2:00am

Two types of mental processes you use to govern yourself are conscious regulation, of which you are aware, and non-conscious regulation, of which you are not aware.

Conscious regulation of every decision, emotional state, and behavior takes lots of effort. This kind of self-regulation is difficult to sustain.

By comparison, your non-conscious mental processes are automatic and they do not require a great expenditure of effort. They are fast acting, long-lived, and can occur repeatedly without you feeling depleted.

Overeating, binging, and being overweight over a lengthy period of time have come to be governed by such non-conscious, automatic mental processes. These mental processes are very hard for you to change because they happen and happen and happen before you know it. They have become part of you. They are your habits.

Then you get yourself in gear to cross that arduous, bumpy, consciously regulated process of losing the weight. Here’s when conscious self-regulation needs to partner with non-conscious regulation so the process doesn't require so much effort. There are lots of ways to form such a partnership. You may do it through using better methods of goal setting, developing specific plans, making sure you are realistically optimistic, and other techniques. (See Find Your Issue and Categories to the right of this post.)

When you do what it takes to go from being overweight to maintaining your weight loss, you will be governed once again by automatic, non-conscious mental processes, which will be hard to change. Only this time, these processes will be in the service of weight management rather than weight gain.

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