How Being Optimistic Affects Weight Loss

The power of positive thinking and optimism helps to create a kind of confidence that generally creates and sustains a certain degree of motivation needed to reach set goals. However, new studies are today indicating that being optimistic have certain tendencies that may affect one's chances of effectively losing weight.

Being optimistic in life has been shown by several studies to help people have stronger social relationships, become generally happier with life and to have an increased life span partly due to reduced risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, and lower rates of incidences of depression. Given these remarkable psychosocial and health benefits of being optimistic, why should it then have any lesser effect on one's weight loss efforts?

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These positive effects of being optimistic which have long been upheld and continue to be upheld in both psychological and medical fields, have however been recently re-evaluated by researches such as that carried out by Hitomi Saito and his research team from Doshisha University in Japan. Hitomi and his team carried out psychological profiling of about 101 obese patients at the Kansai Medical University Obesity Clinic for a period of about six month to study the effects of personality traits on weight loss among the obese patients.

The patients who during this period worked through a weight loss program which combined counseling, nutrition, and exercise therapy were profiled through the use of questionnaires designed to identify each patient's personality type before the start of the therapy and were again evaluated on the same aspects of personality at the end of the program.

The results after the six months evaluation indicated that patients who were able to improve their self-awareness through counseling were able to lose more weight than those who were not. On the other hand, patients who had started the program with high levels of self-orientation and optimistic characteristics proved less likely to successfully lose weight.

Although the results seemed contrary to erstwhile held belief about optimism, the researchers were however quick to reiterate that they are however not that entirely new. The researchers pointed out that their results supported previous findings which indicated that some negative emotions have a positive effect on behavior modification due to the fact that patients care more about their disease.

Hitomi and his team concluded that allowing for optimism to develop during the course of the therapy was by itself more effective than approaching therapy with a high degree of confidence and positive characteristics. However, they attributed the success of the therapy not only to the psychological aspects of the research but equally to the total effect of the intervention of a holistic medical care team.

Besides the results of this finding and other related researches, does it therefore mean that there is no place for optimism in effective weight loss therapy? The real answer to this question will to a very large degree depend on the type of optimism being portrayed by the individual.

An individual's type of optimism can be said to be a function of his or her understanding of the vital difference between believing that he or she will succeed, and believing that he or she will succeed easily. This boils down to the individual being either a realistic optimist or an unrealistic optimist.

Unrealistic optimists often underestimate the setbacks and pitfalls that may be encountered during their attempt to lose weight. These set of optimists are more of the opinion that you are "thinking negatively" when you express concerns such as talking about the obstacles that stand in the way of your goals and about even entertaining reservations.

Conversely, realistic optimists show genuine concern about their health and body shape and a sincere desire to want to improve despite the problems they foresee going through in order to make that improvement. This means being really honest through a personal self-awareness which assesses where they are presently - weight and health wise - and where they want to be in the foreseeable future taking in account what it would take to get there.

Therefore, optimism no doubt can help you lose weight if you make it realistic by combining your positive attitude with an honest assessment of the challenges you may come across along the way.

What you need therefore to succeed with being optimistic with your weight loss efforts is to first have a realistic plan, thereafter create a leverage that will give you a strong reason to commit to your goal, and then to always remember to celebrate your little successes to help you recommit to your weight loss goals.

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