Impatient Dieter vs Patient Dieter: A Look at Self-Efficacy and Nutrition

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The main difference between the patient and the impatient dieter is self-efficacy. Self efficacy is one’s belief in their innate abilities to accomplish a task. In less fluffy words, that means- do you believe you can achieve your goal?

Low self-efficacy is the lack of belief and vice versa for high self efficacy. People tend to avoid tasks where self-efficacy is low because the prospect of failing hurts. Low self-efficacy discourages a chance for growth and developing skills to become better. In contrast, someone with high self-efficacy may overestimate their own abilities and underestimate the difficulty of a task.

Impatient dieters are usually on the extreme ends of self-efficacy. Obvious points are not trying to change and/or quitting early. Less obvious points are falling for tabloid fitness/nutrition advice or products that perpetuate unrealistic results and unsustainable methods. This would be weight loss products like waist trainers, UV light therapy and fat loss pills/teas. Imagine you had low self-efficacy when it comes to weight loss and then compare these two sales headlines/pitches:

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Dr Oz: ” Lose 17lbs in 2 weeks by drinking this water!”

Anthony Lam Fitness: “Lose 17lbs over 6 months by building better habits and learning how to lift weights”


Which was more enticing to you?

While some of you may say Anthony Lam Fitness! The majority of the world would most likely say otherwise and the difference between Dr Oz’s salary and mine is clear proof. Mainstream fitness/nutrition tips trumps an evidence based practice because it’s easy and framed in a way that anyone can do! You’d have to have the world record for lowest self-efficacy if you didn’t think you could follow Dr.Oz’s drink water plan for 2 weeks! What doesn’t get covered by the tabloid is the binge eating and yo-yo dieting that likely follows suit after the plan.

Anyways, my point for bringing this up is that there are many gimmicky products and services that would pull an impatient dieter off the right path (as shown in the infographic).

Patient dieters on the other hand are in the happy middle of self-efficacy. Enough courage to try, a desire/vision of long-term success and the confidence to seek guidance when needed. Although the process is slower; the patient dieter increases their self-efficacy as their abilities/skills grow resulting in a life-long transformation.

On that note, I want to share with you an interesting study: “Expectancy, self-efficacy, and placebo effect of a sham supplement for weight loss in obese subjects” -(Kimberly M Tippens, ND, MSAOM, MPH,1 Jonathan Q Purnell, MD,2 William L Gregory, PhD, Erin Connelly, MA, Douglas Hanes, PhD,1 Barry Oken, MD,3 and Carlo Calabrese, ND, MPH )

In 2014, 114 obese adults received lifestyle coaching to be healthier and lose weight. After, they were separated into three conditions: 1) prescribed to take a daily placebo capsule (a pill that does nothing) masked as an active weight loss supplement, 2) daily placebo but told there was a 50% chance it was active/inactive, 3) no placebo.

After 12 weeks, the placebo groups believed in the supplement more but had a reduced self-efficacy for exercise. Additionally, the group that was told the placebo was 100% active, had a decreased self-efficacy in their ability to lose weight. That means, using a sham supplement worsened their belief of the possibility they could lose weight! The group that received no supplement, increased their exercise and weight-change self-efficacy! They also lost 3.8 inches off their waist versus 2.6 inches (100% active placebo group) and -1.6 BMI versus -0.6 BMI (100% active placebo group)

I thought this was a cool study because it shows how sham supplements and [potentially] products can be detrimental to long-term success!


Have you dealt or overcome low self-efficacy with anything in your life? If so, how did you do it! Let me know in the comments BELOW.

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