YOUR WEIGHT LOCUS OF CONTROL

For each statement below, decide how much you agree or disagree with it. Of the four answer choices, select the one that best expresses how you feel about the statement: if you agree totally without reservations, then circle "a" agree; "b" if you agree slightly; "c" if you disagree slightly; or "d" if you disagree completely.

Part A. Internal Weight Locus of Control

1. Gaining, losing, and maintaining weight is entirely up to me.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

2. I am overweight as a result of my eating habits.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

3. I am overweight as a result of being inactive or not getting enough exercise.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

4. If I set realistic, measurable goals, I can lose weight no matter what.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

5. Failure to keep my weight off is due to poor effort on my part.
    a. Agree.   
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

Part B. External Weight Locus of Control

6. Family history has most determined my weight and size.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

7. I need a structured, formal diet program, or else I have difficulty losing weight.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

8. I depend on good doctors or nutritionists to help me lose weight.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

9. I need prescription diet pills or other diet aids to lose weight.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

10. I overeat because there is too much tempting food in my environment.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

Part C. Chance Weight Locus of Control

11. Being at my ideal weight is a matter of good fortune.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

12. My failure to lose weight is just bad luck.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

13. I will go off my diet if I have a bad day.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

14. No matter if I gain weight, lose weight, or stay the same, it is just going to happen, and that's life.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

15. I am very lucky if I stick to my exercise program.
    a. Agree.
    b. Agree slightly.
    c. Disagree slightly.
    d. Disagree.

SCORING

You will score yourself separately for each of the three parts of the WLOC assessment (Internal, External, and Chance). For each "Agree" answer, give yourself 4 points; for each "Agree slightly" answer, give yourself 3 points; for each "Disagree slightly" answer, give yourself 2 points; and for each "Disagree" answer, give yourself 1 point. Record your totals in the spaces below:

Part A. Internal _________________
Part B. External _________________
Part C. Chance _________________

Your responses to the questions for each part of the assessment generated three separate scores, each ranging from five to twenty. For each of the three parts of the test—Internal, External, and Chance— your scores place you into one of four categories: very low, low, average, or high for each of the three parts of the test, in accordance with the following chart:

Part A: Internal Weight Locus of Control

    5 to 7: Very low attribution of your weight to internal responsibilities
    8 to 11: Low attribution of your weight to internal responsibilities
    12 to 16: Average attribution of your weight to internal responsibilities
    17 to 20: High attribution of your weight to internal responsibilities

Part B: External Weight Locus of Control
    5 to 7: Very low attribution of your weight to external responsibilities
    8 to 11: Low attribution of your weight to external responsibilities
    12 to 16: Average attribution of your weight to external responsibilities
    17 to 20: High attribution of your weight to external responsibilities

Part C: Chance Weight Locus of Control
    5 to 7: Very low attribution of your weight to chance
    8 to 11: Low attribution of your weight to chance
    12 to 16: Average attribution of your weight to chance    
    17 to 20: High attribution of your weight to chance

INTERNAL WLOC

If you are in the average to high end of internal WLOC (12 to 20),
you have an internal weight locus of control. This means that you operate
from a position that says, "If I don't lose weight, it's my fault. If I
lose weight, it's because of my efforts." You feel you have a direct
bearing on your results, through your own actions, interactions,
traits, and characteristics, and you accept responsibility, as well as
credit, for how things turn out. If you're overweight, for example,
you'll admit that you got that way because you did not eat right or did
not exercise enough. You tend to take the majority of accountability
for correcting your condition, including making lifestyle changes,
and you hold yourself responsible for change in your life. These are
positive attributes.

Advice: be aware, though, that there are downsides to having an
internal orientation. For example, you might find it difficult to seek
counsel from other people or to consult external sources of information
for help. Ignoring external resources at your disposal cuts you
off from beneficial insights, guidance, and support from knowledgeable
people such as physicians, nutritionists, and other healthcare
providers.

If your thinking is too internally controlled, your locus of control
can create another problem for you. You may tend to internalize your
failures and dwell on them. When you engage in this type of thinking,
then you have a running internal dialogue with yourself that is
negative, one that puts yourself down, engages in "mountain-out-ofmolehill
thinking," and convinces yourself that your limitations are
too great for lasting success to be realized. And when you think along
these lines, you're discounting your own abilities and extinguishing
your goals of ever controlling your weight. You must work on how
you interpret your failures, become aware of your negative internal
dialogue, and work to change it. This key will help you.

Recognize too that there will be events over which you have no
control. For example, you are not to blame for missing your morning
walk because there's a real gully-washer outside. If you say, "I'm mad
at myself because I didn't get to walk today," you are inappropriately
internalizing. You're blaming yourself for the weather!

Or suppose you've had a perfectly compliant, motivated week.
You've eaten nutritiously, and you exercised according to schedule.
But the scale says otherwise. Getting mad at yourself would be a mistake,
since other factors may be responsible, such as water retention,
the addition of muscle to your body because you're exercising (muscle
weighs more than fat), or the fact that your body has reached a
plateau and is adjusting accordingly. So be realistic about what you
can control and what you can't. Pay attention to how good you feel,
or how loose your clothes are. These are the hallmarks of real
progress.

EXTERNAL WLOC

A high or average score on the external scale (12 to 20) implies an
external weight locus of control, characterized by highly dependent reliance
on powerful others or powerful influences for your success or
failure at losing weight. Let me give you an example of how external
thinking might manifest in your own life. Think back to one of those
times when you went on a diet, you lost a lot of weight, and your
friends, with their oohs and ahhs, asked you how you did it. Because
you tend to be externally oriented, you probably replied by telling
them it was the Such and Such Diet. You credited a diet, instead of
your own self-determination, for your success. With this orientation
style, you believe that credit for your good results rests outside yourself,
on someone or something else. Maybe it is the latest, greatest
new diet. Maybe it is a nutritionist or a doctor with whom you
worked. Maybe it is a prescription diet drug or a surgical procedure
such as a gastric bypass that you credit for your weight loss. When
you succeed, you take little or no ownership of this positive outcome.

By the same token, when you fail to lose weight, cycle back up,
or bomb out altogether, you take little or no ownership of that, either.
You blame being overweight on any number of factors other
than the quart of Rocky Road ice cream you have enjoyed every
night for the past five years. You feel your weight has nothing to do
with your own choices to overeat or binge. It always has to do with
other people, other things, and other situations, never with your own
actions. For example, you might say you regained all your weight because
a particular diet "stopped working" for you. Or maybe you're
like the middle-aged lug who still wants to eat the way he ate in high
school—burgers, fries, pizza, beer, and so on—and still expects to
weigh what he weighed way back then. He says that his metabolism
is too slow. He never thinks for a moment that he's sporting a spare
tire because, like some people, he may be too lazy to exercise anymore.

No matter what the situation or circumstance, you assign blame
elsewhere—even if the fault is yours and not something or someone
else's.

Advice: if you persist in thinking that your weight is controlled
entirely by external forces, you'll have a difficult time losing unwanted
pounds. By pinning the blame on your family, your genes, a
metabolism problem, or a diet that "didn't work," you may be misdiagnosing
the reasons behind your weight problem. When you misdiagnose,
that means you will mistreat it too, and fail to do what is
actually and realistically called for.

This can ruin your chances of permanent weight loss and control
because you're not taking ownership of what's truly your fault. You're
not facing up to the fact that your poor eating habits and lack of exercise
have made you fat. Give yourself a reality check here; there are
enough things that affect your weight for which you are clearly and
undeniably responsible.

Your solution is to move your locus of control from the external
to the internal. In doing so, you make yourself responsible for your
own choices and actions. When you begin to see that your particular
weight struggles may have little to do with anything outside yourself,
your power to change is enormous.

Another huge problem with being in the external niche is that
you tend to leapfrog from diet to diet in an elusive pursuit of the "one
that works" and because that doesn't exist, you get frustrated and you
get defeated—and as a result you soon find yourself behaving your
way back to Blobsville. Your weight-control attempts are characterized
by on-again, off-again dieting. When this happens, you will just
keep spinning your wheels and staying stuck in the same old ruts.

With too much externally-directed thinking, you'll set goals for
yourself that are too low, or not set any goals at all. For example, you
might tell yourself, "I can't achieve my ideal weight. Something will

stand in my way." This is all negative externalizing behavior. Imagine
the consequences that flow from that type of thinking. Whenever
you try to lose weight, you've given up your self-control and crushed
whatever personal resolve you might have had. Quit thinking like
that, and start recognizing that you actively influence positive events
in your life. Start pedaling on your own personal power.


CHANCE WLOC

If you are in the average to high end (12 to 20), you have a chance
weight locus of control. You are basically telling yourself that you have
little or no belief in yourself or anything else. You may not see any
point in changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking
any personal responsibility for your health because you believe that
your behavior has nothing to do with your choices. If you're fat or
otherwise unhealthy, or even if you lose some weight, it's an accidental
occurrence, a roll of the dice in the game of chance. In your perceptual
set, every result, every outcome is due to fate, accident, or
just plain luck.

Make no mistake: this mind-set of chance has nothing to do with
self-discipline. It's different from not wanting to change your habits
just because you don't want to discipline yourself. Chance is a feeling
of powerlessness: you don't see the point of discipline and therefore
have no motivation to change.

Advice: while research indicates that people with internal and
external WLOC will lose weight, high-chance people have less hope
of success. That's because they believe that there's no point in even
trying to change because neither they nor anyone else has any input
to or control over their lives.

Dominated by the mind-set of chance, they think people should
love them no matter what they look like. After all, it's just that they
were dealt a bad hand. If this is your profile, you are probably treating
yourself and your health very poorly. When you live like this, with so
little regard for yourself, you are cheating not just yourself, but also
everyone around you.

If your internal viewpoint is, "What difference does it make anyway?"
or "If fortune goes my way, it'll happen," then you're likely to
spend the rest of your life in an overweight and unhealthy condition.

You are missing out on critical opportunities to make a difference in
your own life and health.

I trust that at this point you've begun to recognize that your weight
locus of control contains lies and faulty logic that form at the core of
your personal truth, and that you must start nudging yourself in some
different directions. Maybe your thinking needs to become less internally
oriented, less externally oriented, or moved off the chance orientation
altogether. This will require that you start questioning

whether you're appropriately "giving credit where credit is due," that
you begin living with more self-determination in certain areas, and
that you become more involved in governing the outcomes in your
life.