I received a great email from personal finance/business blogger Ramit Sethi this morning. A young Stanford graduate with a degree in psychology, I love his behavior-based approach.
The email was titled: Problems Smart People Have
As I read it, I realized this could easily be re-titled, “The Problems Smart People Have with Weight Loss.”
So, I’ve taken the liberty to re-write his message from the weight loss perspective.
(They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?)
Here’s my re-write of Ramit’s brilliant email….
Let’s talk about the psychological oddities of smart people…
They might be really good at their jobs and have gotten great grades, but being smart also leaves people with odd problems in different areas of life, like weight loss for instance.
SMART PEOPLE PROBLEM WITH WEIGHT LOSS #1: THEY OVER-THINK EVERYTHING
Smart people tend to over think things, sometimes to the point of analysis paralysis. Since they can see lots of angles — in fact, they’ve been rewarded for seeing multiple angles — they often can’t accept what’s in front of them.
How could they? They were trained to see beyond the obvious.
Should I join a gym?
Count my macros?
Go Paleo? Try Keto? Maybe Whole30?
SmartPoints or PointsPlus?
Low fat? Low Carb?
Hire a trainer? Which fit-bit is best? How many reps/sets?
Have you read the latest study from???…..
This can be ideal when they’re considering complex strategies or life decisions. But when it comes to weight loss they should just trust that it’s really as simple as eating a little less and moving a little more…
Really. It works. Every time my golden retriever starts to get a little pudgy, I skim a little off her cup of food and increase the length of our walks. And every single time she slims down.
What works for my golden retriever will work for smart people like you and me too.
SMART PEOPLE PROBLEM WITH WEIGHT LOSS #2: THEY’RE PERFECTIONISTS
Welcome to Ramit’s Lesson #593 on losers:
No/low standards = loser
High standards = awesome
Perfectionism = loser
It’s an odd backwards-bending curve, isn’t it?
No/low standards, and you take anything you can get. Think of the people you know in this category, people who have no boundaries or standards. Ugh.
On the other hand, high standards show you have selectivity and options. This is someone who sets boundaries, knows who they are, and is unapologetic about it.
…you have perfectionists.
Perfectionism can be crippling.
I’ve come to realize that it’s the smart person’s version of Fear of Failure.
“If it’s not going to get me back to my ideal weight/body shape, why even bother?”
“I was so good all day and then I grabbed a cookie before starting to work on dinner. Now I’ve totally screwed up my tracking for today so I may as well have the rest of the cookies and all a pint of ice cream for dinner. I’ll start again tomorrow.”
Seriously, this is the way perfectionists fail at eating better and losing weight again and again and again! To lose weight and keep it off you have stop expecting perfection!
SMART PEOPLE PROBLEM WITH WEIGHT LOSS #3: THEY’RE AFRAID OF LOOKING STUPID
When I was trying to teach personal finance at Stanford, everyone seemed excited…until it came time to attend the class. (Which was free.)
I later discovered that people hate going to events about money because it makes them feel bad about themselves.
ESPECIALLY smart people.
“I’m smart. I should already know this. I don’t want to go and ask a stupid question. I should figure this out on my own.”
It’s the SAME EXACT MENTALITY WITH WEIGHT LOSS.
Instead of seeking support or hiring a professional to help, we decide that we should be able to do it on our own.
Even though we may not know nearly as much as we think we do about the best way to lose weight.
I think that’s why kids seem to do better when coached to lose weight. They just do what you tell them and jump in with both feet.
And why Behavior Expert and Lifetime WW BJ Fogg admires people who come to meetings: “They are the ones — the few — who are really trying to improve their lives. As I see it, those who go to Weight Watchers are top-notch people.” They’re willing to risk looking stupid and being vulnerable in order to lose weight an improve their lives.
P.S. What smart people problems with weight loss have you noticed? Leave a comment. I love reading them!
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