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Struggling with Weight Loss? It May Be All In Your Head

How your thinking style affects weight loss

by Meri Raffetto RD, LDN  |  4883 views  |  8 comments  |        Rate this now! 

The hallmarks of any weight loss program have always been diet and exercise. Follow the plan, and off comes the weight. This makes sense, but it isn't working. What I mean is: 95% of dieters regain their weight back. We find ourselves racing to the book stores for the latest diet book only to realize it is the same story with a new twist. This is disappointing to say the least. While emotions can play a big role in why we eat and our relationship with food, scientists are discovering there are other things to take into consideration like our thinking styles.

Your thinking style is the way you process information in the world. Are you highly analytical and mathematical, or are you more visual and/or emotional? Finding this answer may help you approach weight loss with a style that will work for you.

Inga Treitler, Ph.D., a cultural anthropologist, and researcher at the national weight control registry followed 10 individuals who lost 30 or more pounds and kept it off for a year or more. She had them take the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) questionnaire which assesses thinking styles.

What she found is quite interesting and can help anyone trying to lose the extra pounds to approach it in a way that will be successful for them. The HBDI helps people define how they solve problems. There are four quadrants:

"A" quadrant: these individuals are numbers people. They are drawn to mathematical and analytical solutions. They often overanalyze situations so much that they have difficulty taking action. They may do well with activities like counting calories, but may have difficulty taking targeted action necessary for lifestyle changes.

Solution: This group might do better with tracking numbers such as calories and/or tracking number of steps with a pedometer combined with regular coaching to help them take action.

"B" quadrant: these individuals love structure and routines. They will always have a plan and are the type to keep a day-timer with all their appointments scheduled. Guess what? This group is the one who is most successful with a traditional diet approach of following menu plans and tracking their progress. This makes sense as they are comfortable following plans.

Solution: This group will do well with menu planning services, tracking calories, or setting goals. They feel comfortable with a specific, structured plan.

"C" quadrant- These folks are spiritual and emotional and are very connected to the human experience.

Solution: This group would likely benefit from a non- diet approach to weight loss rather than a strict diet regime. They will be more comfortable learning about their internal relationship with food, being mindful, and learning about their food triggers. They would benefit from personal guidance from a coach or nutritionist who practices a non diet approach.

About the Author

Meri Raffetto is a Registered Dietitian, and a columnist for Work It, Mom! and the founder of Real Living Nutrition Services, an online weight loss program that empowers people to make small changes s

Read more by Meri Raffetto RD, LDN

8 comments so far...

  • hello buddy how are you dear i read your comment it's great i like it dear i learn alot of things from your comment i hope everyone likes your post dear thanx for this information.


    weight loss program

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by willkarty on 9th August 2009

  • Great article Meri! Thinking is definitely part of weight loss and life balance! I just submitted an article titled "Life is a Balancing Act: Learn how to enjoy it". Great reading the "C" group!:)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Rosanne Rust on 30th August 2007

  • Good point Annemarie- I will look forward to the next round of research to see what comes next.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Meri Raffetto RD, LDN on 28th August 2007

  • Thanks for sharing this Meri! This is super. Hemispheric dominance research has been fascinating but hasn't been able to account fully for the variables in dominance expression. Using a 4-quadrant model might help to better account for the mixed results. Our minds are if each mind is a universe of it's own! Aren't we wonderful :)


    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 24th August 2007

  • I spoke with the researcher and they are discussing coming up with a quick screen to see which category a person falls under. It is possilble to fall under many. The screening tools they used are elaborate and you can find information at:

    This is fairly new research and they would like to do another study to see if they can replicate the results. If you resonate with two quadrants then you may benefit from a mix of approaches such as counting calories while getting coaching, etc. I will keep everyone posted if they do come up with a screen.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Meri Raffetto RD, LDN on 23rd August 2007

  • Is there a test one can take to figure out which group you're part of? I feel that I might know, but I am not sure - that would be a great tool!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nataly on 23rd August 2007

  • Very interesting. I am for sure "B"!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 23rd August 2007

  • Interesting, and very helpful information, especially if you have a fairly good idea which quadrant you're in. I'm going to send this to a friend who is in a rough patch with the weight-loss program she's on.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Florinda Pendley Vasquez on 22nd August 2007