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  1. #1
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    A Psychologist's perspective on weight management

    Greetings everyone!

    I am a clinical psychologist specialized in health psychology and psychotherapy. My graduate thesis was on psychological models for health behavior change. My purpose with this thread is to offer help with psychological aspects of exercise, dieting and weight management. Such aspects include (but are not limited to) motivational processes, decision making, "will power", life situtations, levels of consciousness and... much more.

    I have a feeling that if I present any principles or models in this very first post, it may restrict your questions. So, any questions about psychology and weight management are welcome. Ask away, and I promise to do my best to provide answers.

    Hopefully, this thread can become a resource for effective self-help. I look forward to your questions.

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    Why do we feel full, however continue to crave/eat food? Sometimes till the stomach feels like it could "pop?"

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    How do we maintain our motivation to progress towards a long-term goal even when short-term and even medium-term satisfaction/signs of decent progress are absent?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skinny man View Post
    Why do we feel full, however continue to crave/eat food? Sometimes till the stomach feels like it could "pop?"
    Hi!

    An interesting question that brings back memories from my emotion/motivation seminars. Ultimately, I believe, the issue may require some medical/physiological knowledge. Since physiology is not my area of expertise, I'll have to rely on what I've come across during my studies. Feel free to correct me, those of you who know more. However, here's my understanding:

    Appetite and fullness are separate phenomena, and not just opposite ends on one scale. Appetite is regulated by the hormone ghrelin, fullness by leptin. As we wake up in the morning, our bodies are in a state of starvation and ghrelin levels are high, pushing us to eat by stimulating dopaminergic pathways in the brain. Normally, the intake of food downregulates ghrelin - decreasing appetite - and stimulates release of leptin, which makes us feel full. Leptin levels increase as body fat levels increase, causing people to feel full from less food while drawing the remaining energy requirement from their fat deposits. Normally, this mechanism serves to keep fat proportions at a more or less constant level.

    However, associations have been found between leptinresistance, stable ghrelin levels, and obesity. That is, some obese persons never feel full like normal people do. In addition, they can have a constant appetite for food, even though their stomachs feel like they could "pop", leading to frequent snacking.

    In conclusion, normal leptinfunctioning and abnormal ghrelinfunctioning - stable levels in the bloodstream - might account for the phenomena you describe.

    Again, I'm not a physiologist, so there is probably a lot more to this than what I've described.

    Is it all about hormonal causes then? Well, interestingly, patients with anterograde amnesia (inability to form new memories) appear to falsify that idea. A study was set up so that some AntAmn-patients were served multiple consecutive lunches, with 10-30 minutes inbetween (to allow for forgetting). The AntAmn-patients fully or partially ate the second meal, and partially ate the third meal. Assuming they did not have abnormal ghrelin or leptin levels, this is one example of how beliefs and expectations can override hormonal control over cravings and eating.

    Hope this was helpful!

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    Quote Originally Posted by neiliog93 View Post
    How do we maintain our motivation to progress towards a long-term goal even when short-term and even medium-term satisfaction/signs of decent progress are absent?
    Many books have been written on this topic - it's hard to give a brief or even medium-long answer. Here's a perspective at least, let me know if you desire more:

    First off, if the idea is to stick with a diet/exercise regime that you don't fully enjoy... It's helpful to make covert signs of progress visible. Do some research on the short-, medium- and long-term benefits of sticking with your diet/exercise regime. Enter these benefits as subgoals in an exercise journal and track your progress towards them. Benefits tend to accumulate the longer you keep it up. (For example, 3 months of regular aerobic exercise will reduce arterial stiffness.) Since you typically have no means of measuring covert benefits directly, allow yourself to "assume that the benfit has been acquired", and log it in your journal. Every time you progress towards, or reach a subgoal, allow yourself to take pride in your effort. In fact, having a feeling of mastery and achievment connected with your endeavour is more important than any subgoal. Feelings of mastery turns chores into pleasures.

    Second, and related to feelings of mastery. If motivation is an issue, maybe you need to either rethink your strategy or change the way you look at it? Ultimately, although certain activities (resistance training, jogging) are better suited for certain goals (muscle hypertrophy, stamina) - all activities are basically healthy. In the long run, enjoyable activities have more potential to invoke feelings of mastery, keep you coming back to them and become lasting habits. Enjoyable activities are ends in themselves.

    Hope this was of help. If not, give me feedback and I'll try to improve on it.

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    beautiful advice, cool username.

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