Intrinsic Motivation for Healthy Weight Loss

By Marsha Hudnall on 03/21/2007
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Strawberry My post last week on the study that compared diets made me think it’s worthwhile to explore the subject of carbohydrates again on this blog.  That study showed that people who followed an Atkins-type diet (albeit with more carbs) had somewhat more success in losing weight than people on other diets.  I’m not suggesting that a modified Atkins diet is the way to go (read last week’s post), but thought it’d be worth a look at what might be going on.

Researchers agreed that the ‘success’ had a lot to the type of carbs people ate.  That is, whole carbohydrate foods as opposed to highly processed ones.  Things like whole wheat, original oatmeal (not the instant kind), whole fruits and vegetables.  Something that studies show people still don’t get enough of.  I just read some research yesterday saying that almost 90 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables (5-9 servings a day)!  I haven’t seen any research telling us how many servings of chips, candy, cookies and the like that we eat! 

Of course, this isn’t really news for those who seek weight loss.  The party line has always been to cut back on sweets, and use fruits instead for treats.  And eat plenty of vegetables because they’re low in calories.  Yet the statistics tell the story.  We just don’t do it with any regularity, even though eating this way makes most of us feel better, and yes, weigh less.

I recently took part in a listserv conversation that suggested one way we could effectively make changes in our diets.  Of course, it had to do with mindful eating, or intuitive eating, whatever you want to call it.  Mindful eating is all about listening to your body, and making choices based on how a food makes you feel.  The listserv conversation had to do with how to stop eating things that don’t make us feel well, not how to eat things that we think we ‘should.’  For many people, those foods include things like chips and candy; others can’t tolerate milk products.  Actually, for every food, there’s probably someone who can’t tolerate it.

For people who’ve struggled with eating, it can get a little confusing figuring out what makes us feel well, and what doesn’t.   On her excellent website Body Positive, Deb Burgard has an exercise to help people when they’re having trouble deciding.  It’s called “Every Body Part Gets a Vote.” 

The point is, when we clearly know a food affects us adversely, it’s up to us to decide if we really want that food badly enough to suffer the consequences.  It becomes a personal decision motivated by what our bodies tell us – intrinsic motivation –  not one that’s driven by an attempt to meet healthy eating guidelines (an external driver).  And intrinsic motivation is what really works.

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3 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Carnival of Diet Tips

    Welcome to the March 23, 2007 edition of a very public diet!. We love reading all your tips so thanks again for some great posts. Patricia presents Immediate Gratification posted at Patricia, saying, Whether you are trying to eat healthy

  • Emily says:

    Thank you for bringing such nice posts. Your blog is always fascinating to read.

  • marsha says:

    thanks for the feedback, Emily!

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