Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Can Hinder (or Help!) Your Ability to Lose Weight

I was recently reading about a study carried out in the 1970′s by psychologist Martin Seligman that lead to the phenomenon of learned helplessness.  In his experiment, he took two groups of dogs and placed them in cages.  One cage was open at the top and one was not.  The dogs would receive an electric shock (I know, not good).  The dogs in the open cage learned quickly that if they jumped the cage wall, they could escape and would be fine.  However, the dogs in the closed cage learned they could not escape and eventually gave up trying.  The experimenter then gave these dogs a means to escape, and although they could, they never tried.  They learned to accept they had no power, even when they did.

This phenomenon has been compared to what a yo-yo dieter goes through when attempting to lose weight too many times without success.  Eventually, the dieter accepts the idea that no matter how hard they try to lose weight, it won’t happen, so why bother to try.

However, there really is an escape route.  Diets fail people, people don’t fail diets.  If you have tried numerous times to lose weight and have been unsuccessful, it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, it simply means the types of programs/diets, that you have tried have not worked for you and you need to do something different.

The answer, of course, is to avoid diets and instead learn how to incorporate a healthier lifestyle that will work for you.  Seek good education and learn how to apply that education to make these changes.  You can be successful, just be open to it and believe in yourself.

About Kimberly Dawson, M.S.

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