Before Dieting, Make Sure You’re Ready!

by Frederick C. Hatfield, Ph.D.

There are many physical factors that contribute to obesity cited in the research literature. Listed in Table One are most of the important ones. It’s quite clear that a far greater percentage of the obese population in America suffer their obese condition as a result of the final factor (Socio-Cultural / Environmental) as opposed to the more medically oriented ones. America is the only country on earth with an obesity problem of epidemic proportions. Yet, the factors listed in Table One are probably no different for the world than what exists in this country.

TABLE ONE: FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO OBESITY

  • Excessive Stimulation of Appetite Center
  • Adipose Cell Hyperplasia
  • Hyperlipidogenesis (Increased Lipoprotein Lipase activity)
  • Lesions
  • Decreased Lipid Metabolism
  • Decreased Lipolytic Hormones
  • Defective Adipose Cell Lipolysis
  • Abnormality in Autoimmune Innervation
  • Decreased Lipid Utilization
  • Aging
  • Defective Oxidation of Fats
  • Defective Thermogenesis
  • Inactivity
  • Under-exercising
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Endocrine and Metabolic Disturbances
  • Cushing’s Syndrome
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Hypertension
  • Thyroid Disorders
  • Thrombosis
  • Kidney Disorders
  • Frohlich’s Syndrome
  • Socio-Cultural / Environmental
  • Stress
  • Poverty (poor diet)
  • Emotional Disturbances
  • Childbirth
  • Temperature

Now, having said this, I will ask a very important question:

WHAT IS SO DIFFERENT ABOUT WHAT GOES ON HERE IN THE USA AS COMPARED TO THE REST OF THE WORLD?

  • I have given this question a lot of thought lately. Here are a few pertinent points to ponder
  • Food is FAR cheaper here
  • People eat prepared, processed food here
  • Marketing forces are powerful (the world has far fewer TV ads)
  • Kids and women pretty much run the family

Now, there are many other factors that ought to be considered as well.

  • This country, perhaps more than most, is so spread out that walking or biking are not practical modes of transportation.
  • With most women working nowadays, cooking real food from scratch has become impractical.
  • Related to the working woman issue is the fact that eating 5-6 small meals has become impractical.
  • The prevalence of sugar-laden soft drinks (which are also often caffeine-laden) in this country, coupled with the declining quality of our water supply, has made soda the drink of choice.

The hard line approach to all this would be to say, “So what! Do something about it! You are responsible for your own obesity! Stop eating so much junk food and get to the gym!”

Ugh! So many people believe this! Yet so few have the wherewithal to begin. And, when they do begin, they fail more often than not! One solution out of many, many that I could list is to begin when you’re READY to begin!

According to a recent study of more than 3,000 people followed for three decades, yo-yo dieting — losing weight and gaining back all or more of it — can double the risk of developing and dying of heart disease. who directed the study, says too many people rush into diets under circumstances that make lasting success unlikely. Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, a weight-control specialist at Yale University, devised the following test to help dieters assess whether the time is right to try to lose weight.*

Goals and Attitudes:

1. Compared with previous attempts, how motivated to lose weight are you this time?

  1. not at all
  2. slightly
  3. somewhat
  4. quite
  5. extremely

2. How certain are you that you will stay committed to a weight loss program for the time it will take to reach your goal?

  1. not at all
  2. slightly
  3. somewhat
  4. quite
  5. extremely

3. Consider all outside stress in your life (work, family obligations, etc.) To what extent can you tolerate the effort required to stick to a diet?

  1. cannot
  2. can somewhat
  3. uncertain
  4. can tolerate well
  5. can easily

4. Think honestly about how much weight you hope to lose and how quickly you hope to lose it. Figuring a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, how realistic is your expectation?

  1. very unrealistic
  2. somewhat unrealistic
  3. moderately unrealistic
  4. somewhat realistic
  5. very realistic

5. While dieting, do you fantasize about eating a lot of your favorite foods?

  1. always
  2. frequently
  3. occasionally
  4. rarely
  5. never

6. While dieting, do you feel deprived, angry or upset?

  1. always
  2. frequently
  3. occasionally
  4. rarely
  5. never

If you scored: 6 to 16, it is not a good time to diet; inadequate motivation and commitment and unrealistic goals can get in your way; 17 to 23, think about ways to boost your diet readiness before you begin, 24 to 30, your path is clear.

Hunger Cues:

7. When food is mentioned, do you want to eat even if not hungry?

  1. never
  2. rarely
  3. occasionally
  4. frequently
  5. always

8. Do you have trouble controlling your eating when your favorite foods are around the house?

  1. never
  2. rarely
  3. occasionally
  4. frequently
  5. always

9. How often do you eat because of physical hunger?

  1. always
  2. frequently
  3. occasionally
  4. rarely
  5. never

If you scored: 3 to 6, try to control the attitudes that occasionally make you overeat; 7 to 9, dieting will be easier if you try to resist external cues and eat only when you are physically hungry.

Control Overeating:

10. Although you planned to skip lunch, you are talked into going out to eat.

  1. if you would eat much less
  2. if you would eat somewhat less
  3. if it would make no difference
  4. if you would eat somewhat more
  5. if you would eat much more:

11. You go off your diet by eating a fattening, forbidden food.

  1. if you would eat much less
  2. if you would eat somewhat less
  3. if it would make no difference
  4. if you would eat somewhat more
  5. if you would eat much more:

12. After faithfully following your diet you decide to test yourself by eating a “treat.”

  1. if you would eat much less
  2. if you would eat somewhat less
  3. if it would make no difference
  4. if you would eat somewhat more
  5. if you would eat much more:

If you scored: 3 to 7, you recover rapidly from mistakes, but should get professional help if you often alternate between strict dieting and eating out of control; 8 to 11, you have a flexible, balanced program that is not disrupted by unplanned eating; 12 to 15, your reaction to problem-causing eating events can be improved.

Bingeing and Purging:

13. Have you ever eaten lots of food rapidly and felt the eating was excessive and out of control?

  1. yes
  2. no

14. If yes, how often over the past year?

  1. for less than once a month
  2. about once a month
  3. a few times a month
  4. about once a week
  5. about 3 times a week
  6. daily

15. Have you ever purges to control your weight by using laxatives, diuretics or induced vomiting?

  1. yes
  2. no

16. If yes, how often during the past year?

  1. less than once a month
  2. about once a month
  3. a few times a month
  4. about once a week
  5. about 3 times a week
  6. daily

If you scored: 0 to 1, binge eating and purging are not your problem; 2 to 11, get professional help if these eating patterns arise more often; 12 to 19, your potentially serious eating problem needs immediate professional attention.

Emotional Eating:

17. Do you overeat when you feel anxious, depressed, angry or lonely?

  1. never
  2. rarely
  3. occasionally
  4. frequently
  5. always

18. Do you celebrate feeling good by overeating?

  1. never
  2. rarely
  3. occasionally
  4. frequently
  5. always

19. When things don’t go well with others or on your job, do you eat more than you would like?

  1. never
  2. rarely
  3. occasionally
  4. frequently
  5. always

If you scored: 3 to 8, you don’t seem to let emotions affect your eating; 9 to 11, monitor your occasional tendency to eat in response to emotional highs and lows and find alternative activities; 12 to 15, you need to find other ways than eating express your feelings.

Exercise:

20. How often do you exercise?

  1. never
  2. rarely
  3. occasionally
  4. somewhat
  5. frequently

21. How confident are you that you can exercise regularly?

  1. not at all
  2. slightly
  3. somewhat
  4. highly
  5. completely

22. Do you have a negative or positive picture about exercise in your mind?

  1. completely negative
  2. somewhat negative
  3. neutral
  4. somewhat positive
  5. completely positive

23. How sure are you that you can work regular exercise into your daily schedule?

  1. not at all
  2. slightly
  3. somewhat
  4. quite
  5. extremely

If you scored: 4 to 10, change attitudes that are blocking your way to regular exercise; 11 to 16, to feel more positive about exercise, think of ways that are fun and fit your lifestyle; 17 to 20, your path is clear to a more active life.

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