Quinn on Nutrition: Weight management is personal

April 10, 2017

Iím having an up and down relationship with my scale this month. Iím not trying to do anything dramatic, just eliminate a few bulges that keep me uncomfortable in my usually comfortable clothes.

Iím a dietitian. I know this stuff, right? Most of the time, I can figure out what strategies work best for my clients who need to lose weight. But this is me. Iím not always objective when I look at my own day to day habits. And letís face it, when we want or need to change certain routines, just knowing what we should do doesnít always cut it.

I wish I had a trip to the mountains each time I heard, "I know what I need to do, I just donít do it." Which begs the question, ĎWhy donít we always do what we know we need to do?í

Part of it, say nutrition experts (this is me talking to me right now) is making an honest determination if I am really ready to make changes and do the work. Itís called motivation ó how ready am I right now (letís say on a scale of 1 to 10) to commit time and energy to alter the habits that need to be altered?

And thereís another zinger. How confident am I that I can really lose this weight and keep it off? Researchers call this "self-efficacy" which is not just feeling confident about myself. Self-efficacy, according to an article on this topic in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is "a specific belief (I can do this) tied to a specific task (I can say no to M&Mís today). A strong belief that I can do this can be a powerful predictor of my success.

Itís a constant struggle, though, wanting to make changes and fighting against actually making them. I reassure my clients, for example, not to get so focused on the scale. And then Ö I do.

I shouldnít feel too bad. According the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) ó the largest organization of nutrition professionals in the world ó there is a ton (sorry) of valid scientific research to guide us toward safe, effective, long-lasting, non-crazy-making weight loss. However, according to the Academyís current position paper on this topic, the best way to combine all these strategies and techniques to lose weight successfully is still to be determined.

Ok, fine! Maybe what I should do is experiment, using tried and true techniques and strategies of course. And then perhaps I can discover what works best for me.

Now I understand a bit more why nutrition professionals stress an individualized approach to weight management. Itís the only thing that works.




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