Here’s a somewhat obvious truth: it’s harder for some people to lose weight than others. But why is this the case? It’s because of the Weight Control Spectrum. I explain what this is in this post so you will understand the things that are/aren’t in your control during your weight loss journey.
First, Christian Bale
This is Christian Bale over the years. He’s clearly somebody who has proven that it’s possible for the human body to go back and forth between various physical states. If Christian Bale wants to be thin, he will be thin. When he wants to be obese, he will be obese. If he wants to be jacked, he will be jacked. Christian Bale obviously has immense control over his physique.
On the other hand, there are definitely people that barely have any control over what they weigh, for a multitude of reasons. People who are morbidly obese or those suffering from severe anorexia nervosa, for example. Of course, the majority of people are somewhere in between.
The Weight Control Spectrum
Introducing the Weight Control Spectrum:
On the left are people who have very little control over their weight, such as the anorexic and morbidly obese. On the right are people like Christian Bale who can adjust their weight as desired. Note that the way I define this spectrum has nothing to do with one’s actual weight! It’s more about control. Generally, however, people on the right side of the spectrum choose to be lean for various health and aesthetic reasons.
We’re all somewhere on this weight control spectrum. Additionally, we move around on this spectrum during our lives. Because I slowly repaired my feedback loop, I moved from the left of the weight control spectrum to the right.
There are three things that are important to understand about this weight control spectrum.
- There are three factors that define where we are on this spectrum (physiological, environmental, mental).
- With these factors, some of these things are controllable, and some of these are not. Recognizing truly what is what will help us immensely on our weight loss journey.
- Even though some of these factors are not controllable, we will have the ability to change at least some of the factors that define where we are in this weight control spectrum, and doing this will increase the control we have over our weight.
The Three Factors That Define Where we Are on the Weight Control Spectrum
As mentioned above, there are three important factors that define our location on the Weight Control Spectrum: physiological, environmental, and mental. Christian Bale has almost full control over what he weighs because he is immensely strong in all three factors: He has an incredible discipline, the resources of a superstar, and I’m sure his genetics are great as well. Even if we’re not Christian Bale, however, an understanding of where we are at with all these factors will help us develop the right approach to improve our own control over our weight.
Some people are born genetically lucky and have really good genes for weight control, others less so. Thyroid issues, autoimmune diseases, or diseases like type one diabetes are examples of physiological factors that impact how much we weigh. Obviously, our genetics and our physiology matter when it comes to our weight! Here are some key messages from these facts:
- Do not compare yourself to others, and forgive yourself if you’re struggling to lose weight. Your weight loss journey is unique. You have your own unique challenges. Do not let the judgment of others, and even more importantly, your own self-judgments set you back. Where we are initially placed on the weight control spectrum is often due to no fault of our own. Don’t blame yourself for that!
- On the flip side, don’t use physiology as an excuse. I can say this because I did this myself. How could I ever change, I’ve been obese my entire life! Once I cut the excuses and decided that it wasn’t my physiology holding me back, I finally started to succeed. For many of us, physiology is not the only reason we’re the weight we’re at. The balance between accepting ourselves so we protect our mental health yet also NOT accepting our current state so we’re driven to become better can be an immense challenge. Find that balance.
- Physiology (and other factors) can be changed. I have seen immense transformations on the internet–from people with the craziest autoimmune disorders, to people who have struggled since childhood with health issues but finally cracked their code. Not only have many of them been able to manage, but many of them have been able to thrive. We gotta play the cards we’re dealt. I urge you to find the stories out there that best align with your situation and find solutions that could support any physiological challenges you may have.
I remember starting a new job that had constant free food in its kitchen: I gained 15 pounds. COVID-19 and working from home has made millions of people gain weight because their environment has changed.
Here’s another example of an incredible transformation. Kumail Nanjani of Silicon Valley fame changed his environment and transformed his body. We may not have the same resources as Christian and Kumail to invest in our own weight loss, but we can also make our own environmental changes to support our own weight loss.
The truth is that environment can matter more than willpower. And making micro-changes to your environment can support you with weight loss. Even better, these changes, if permanent, will permanently support your weight loss, without any additional work!
If you are in an environment that promotes weight gain, you will forever need to use mental energy to maintain your weight. If however, you are in an environment that promotes weight loss, weight loss will feel a lot more natural and will be a lot easier!
By mental factors, I don’t just mean willpower or stuff like that. We can influence how much we weigh by investing positive mental effort into weight loss. The word positive is important, and let me explain. Positive mental effort is:
- Understanding and thinking about a Defining Motivation that is the reason for us to lose weight
- Spending mental energy practicing mindful eating
- Reflecting on how our body works and responds to food and other factors
Negative mental effort is:
- Being constantly worried if people are judging us because of our weight
- Getting depressed that we gained weight or are struggling to lose weight
- Etc. I honestly don’t want to focus on these points.
And zero mental effort is:
- Not caring about what you eat or what you weigh
- Believing that you can’t control your weight, so why bother
- Ignoring your health because “you’re too busy”
Positive mental effort is what Luuze tries to support. By accentuating your wins, cheering your progress, and recommending mindfulness, the additional positive mental effort can shift a person towards the right of the weight control spectrum.
Negative mental effort can actually shift a person towards the left side of the spectrum. They are investing mental effort, but because the effort is negative, it actually doesn’t help. In fact, it hinders. Negative mental effort often increases the odds of a person giving up. To succeed with weight loss, I believe that you need to believe you can lose weight, and negative mental effort doesn’t help with that.
Zero mental effort can be bad as well. For decades, I put zero mental effort into how much I weighed. My weight was therefore defined by my physiology and my environment, and those two factors set my weight at 250 pounds, with life-threatening consequences. Once I invested mental effort into my weight loss journey (along with actively working on the other factors), I started losing weight.
Focus Less About How Much You Weigh, Focus More on Improving Your Control
This may sound paradoxical coming from a person who created a weight loss app that tracks your weight, but it’s important to focus less on the scale and more on how we can better control that number. Although Luuze does help you lose weight, it does so through improving your feedback loop, which leads to a shift to the right on this weight control spectrum. Doing this promotes PERMANENT weight loss. Those who are successful improve this skill of weight loss, even when they don’t see any progress on the scale.
I live a better life now because I took back control of my health, not because I’m a certain number on the scale.
Change Your Location on the Weight Loss Spectrum
I’d like to be optimistic and believe that every single person out there has the power to shift towards the right side of this spectrum if they work to adjust the factors listed above. Some people definitely have it easier than others, and that sucks for those that struggle to lose weight. Don’t compare yourself to others. One of the first steps is to have faith that your environmental and mental shifts can overcome any negative physiological factors because the consequences of not believing aren’t good. It’s good to try to find a way to change the physiological factors as well, although that can be really hard!
For me, it was only until I cut my excuses that my weight was due to my physiology did I get to the point where I was able to shift my control. And even then, the shift took time to get there, and it is still a continuous journey to get even further. However, as proven by my results, the human body absolutely can transform, and shifts can happen.
Here are some questions to reflect on:
- Of the three factors that control our weight (mental, environmental, physiological), which factor do you have the most control over?
- What micro-changes could you make in this factor to shift your position in the weight control spectrum?
- If in the future there’s going to be a big change in your life (eg new job), how is this going to impact your position on the weight control spectrum? How will you deal with this?