Health

Are you impulsively gaining weight?

A recent study examines how certain personality types are more likely to gain weight or go on yoyo diets than others. This should be a surprise to no one.

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A recent study examines how certain personality types are more likely to gain weight or go on yoyo diets than others. This should be a surprise to no one.

Part that I find most interesting is this statement: “Impulsivity was the strongest predictor of who would be overweight, the researchers found. Study participants who scored in the top 10 percent on impulsivity weighed an average of 22 lbs more…” I’ve been working on writing a book with obesity expert Dr. Margaret Yúfera-Leitch, who’s website, interestingly, is Impulsive Eating.

Margaret has her PhD in psychology and works as a research fellow for the Obesity Solutions Initiative in Washington, DC. We’ve had a number of discussions on this issue in the last several months, and an interesting trait amongst more impulsive individuals is lowered levels of commitment and restraint. Often they eat without thinking about, and keep on eating with no regard for how many calories they are consuming. They are acting on “impulse” rather than mindfully.

So, is there any training you can do to be less impulsive? Well, I’m not sure. We are talking about your personality here. However, exercise is shown to be good for those with impulsivity issues and have a positive effect on “ingestive behaviour,” meaning it can lead to you eating better. It can get you thinking about it more for meeting your energy requirements rather than a mindless source of pleasure. Just don’t fall for the reward mentality where 300 calories burned in a fitness class equates to eating 500 worth of pecan pie because “I deserve it.”

Remember that diet requires 24/7 motivation, but exercise only requires motivation during the hours spent actually doing it. If you’re having trouble on the eating side, then try working more on the integration of exercise and see what it can do to boost your ability to deal with food.

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