Print Grant Hewitt

Most of the battles with weight loss rage not at the dinner table or even at the drive-thru window, but in our minds. All too often we are our own worst enemies when it comes to making healthy life changes. Just realizing where these struggles usually take place and how we are defeated by them can often be the perfect step in the right direction. After helping hundreds of patients lose weight amidst difficult situations, I have personally seen the results of the “Failure Syndrome” time and time again. Failure Syndrome is when a perceived failure leads to feelings of frustration, sadness, hopelessness, etc… This perception of failure, often leads to hopelessness. Patients with this mindset believe they will never be able to achieve their goals, and. so, they begin to engage in even more self-destructive behavior. They give up.

Obviously, this vicious cycle can relate to more than just weight loss, but for our purposes we’ll look at it in that light. It can be visualized this way (courtesy of HMR):

The Failure Symdrome

We are all too familiar with this kind of reasoning, whether it involves weight loss or other life choice. This is a spiral of unhealthy thinking that never ends well; what’s important is to realize and how to end this cycle of negative thinking. Consider the following scenario: You’re on the second week of your “diet,” it’s been a long day, company has been in town and you recently attended three birthday parties where you ate too much, and skipped any physical activity. You feel like you “failed”. You’re upset and frustrated at yourself. Right at this point is where you’re faced with a big decision. A) Avoidance: Responding by making excuses and rationalizations, while telling yourself it’s no big deal. Or B) Confrontation: Being 100% honest with yourself and figuring out a way to change right now. The difference between A and B is the difference between sulking or taking positive action, feeling sorry for yourself or feeling empowered, weight loss “failure” or weight loss “success.”

Contrary to popular opinion, being “successful” with your health and weight loss goals is not about always making perfectly-healthy decisions. Rather, it’s about a willingness to confront unhealthy behaviors head on (and change those decisions), rather than avoiding and downplaying them. We are faced with opportunities to confront or avoid multiple times every day; a healthy lifestyle is one that consistently confronts. We are all going to eat the cheeseburger, pizza or ice cream at times–that’s just real life. We are not, however, all going to live feeling guilty and defeated, and always making excuses for our actions. At Alegent Creighton Health Weight Management, we have observed thousands of patients turn things around and find the strength to confront and change.

We know that many of our readers have done the same, and want to know how have you been able to make this happen?



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6 Responses to Weight and Your Brain: Considering the “Failure Syndrome”

  1. James says:

    Grant, while I was in the Alegent program, I never felt as though we addressed this. There are so many stresses in my life and if I don’t do “something” I would go crazy(ier). There is a point where life overwhelms and making the “right” choices really doesn’t help me feel any better. I never was able to discuss this with anyone. You all were so busy there wasn’t time. I have gained all my weight back and more. It seems the program was geared to eating all the time and not dealing with feelings. Thanks for trying.

  2. Anthony F says:

    This is a great article and I’m going to try to use the techniques described to help me when I feel those thought and feelings of failure coming on.

    Thank You

  3. Delores Harrtigan says:

    I am strugglilng with weight loss—–however, being in a wheelchair
    and home bound I cannot join any weight loss programs——-D

  4. Grant Hewitt says:

    Delores, thanks for viewing the blog. We do offer a program which can be done at home without coming to our clinic, it’s the most successful of its kind. We call it the HMR @ Home program. For more info give us a call at 402.572.2333

  5. Grant Hewitt says:

    Perfect comment, Anthony! This is a daily struggle that we all contend with, it’s so important that we identify when the failure syndrome kicks in so we can ‘snap out of it’

  6. Grant Hewitt says:

    James, thanks for your comment and touching on an important part of weight loss: we all have real life to contend with at the same time we’re trying to lose weight. We can’t all move to the Biggest Loser Ranch for 3 months and put life on ‘hold’. There are always going to be acute times in our lives where everything is going haywire and making healthy choices is the last thing that takes priority. Having worked with hundreds of patients through the years, I’ve seen these situations come and go again and again. The problem arises when not caring leads to self-destructive habits, which lead to a lot of excess weight, diabetes and other undesirable outcomes. Our clinic doesn’t want to downplay the stresses of life, they can be intense. However, if you’re not taking care of yourself, it makes handling everything else that much more difficult in the end. Hang in there James! As far as weight regain is concerned, I’m working with one gentleman right now who lost 140 lbs, gained 145, and now he’s lost 150 holding steady. There is always hope! I’d love to chat if you’re interested, 402.572.2333

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