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Head Case

I don’t think my double chin weighed 195 pounds, but an article I read says weight loss is all in your head. It was first published two years ago, but thankfully information does not go bad as quickly as the unwashed grapes in my fresher drawer, so I think it’s still relevant. A cultural anthropologist located 10 people who had successfully lost a lot of weight, kept it off and gave them all the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI). That’s one of those fancy psychological tests that scientific people like to use instead of horoscopes. It looks at four quadrants of the brain used in problem solving and sees which ones you favor. I have no idea how useful or accurate this test is, but the researcher found that people with the most dramatic losses scored higher as a type B person:

“B” quadrant (lower left): These people are controlled, methodical, disciplined sticklers for structure and routine. Punctual and neat, they always have a plan, timetable and calendar with appointments penciled in.

Calendar? Did someone say calendar? With appointments and plans?

Calendar of guilt

Behold, my wall calendar! (This picture is of May so the details of my plans for world domination scribbled on the end of July won’t be revealed). If I let more than two days go by without exercising it is quickly renamed to “the calendar of guilt.” It’s full of completed workouts, dentist appointments, and haircut reminders. As for planning – in preparation for the BlogHer conference this weekend I have already procured a map of Chicago, circled all my destinations in black ink, calculated the walking distance between points using Google maps, created an itinerary of which sessions I want to attend, written down what to wear on which days, made a list of questions to ask certain panelists, made another list of everything to pack in my suitcase, and made yet another list of errands I need to complete before I leave. If I have a timetable, it seats at least 50.

This all makes me sound like a neurotic control freak, but I’m mostly just that way about my own life. I let other people do as they please for the most part. Whenever I visit one friend of mine, our plans are so fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants that I should really get frequent flyer miles every time I visit. It’s not my preferred way of living, but I can deal. When it comes to my own life and goals though, I do like having a plan. And a map. Ooh, and a highlighter!

I think I favor the “A” quadrant as well which is for “analytical, mathematical, logical problem solvers.” I especially relate to the part about how they “overanalyze a situation so much they have trouble taking action.” I literally spent about 10 minutes in the salad dressing aisle once trying to pick out the best dressing for me at the best price.

As with anything, you can train yourself to be better at using the “B” quadrant of your brain, so don’t fear. Even if you are doomed to attract clutter you are not necessarily doomed to be fat.

Thanks to Mymsie for the article link.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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BrightAngel • July 25, 2007 at 10:17 am

Good Thought. I, also, have similiar tendencies, and have been very successful at weight-loss and taking it off. BTW, pasta queen, speacking of methodical records, have you checked out the dietpower.com site yet and downloaded their free software tool? It looks like you like to be “up” on things helpful. I discovered it online in September 2004 and have been using it ever since. I have no financial etc. connection, and I mention it only because it gave me the ability to keep the kind of really methodical food records that resulted in my last 90 lb loss…and 18 months of maintenance at my goal weight…. so far.

To date I’ve entered all my daily data for the past 1039 days….



TeaMouse • July 25, 2007 at 10:45 am

Woohoo! That means there is definitely hope for me, I think. I’m soooooo organized at work. I can’t exist without my calendar and I am always punctual. I do have moments of disorganization, but for the most part I have to be totally organized I am a ‘J’ on the myers briggs(or so I’ve been told).

Time to use it to my advantage. I have 90 pounds to lose.


dg • July 25, 2007 at 10:47 am

Hurrah for the A quadrant, i hear ya. i have lots of lists and print outs but i am wishing i did the Outfit Planning, that is a top idea!

WOOHOOOO! WOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I cannae wait to meet you, hen!


PastaQueen • July 25, 2007 at 11:07 am

dg – I can’t wait to meet you too! I felt slightly psycho doing the outfit planning, but since my jeans no longer fit I had to go shopping to find some pants and the outfit planning naturally followed.


Sunny • July 25, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Thanks for sharing this! I’m in the beginning stages of weight-loss (again) and I’m reading everything I can get my hands on to get motivated. Your site is certainly motivating!


Joanna_ofthenorth • July 25, 2007 at 12:30 pm

Pasta Queen, how were you ever fat? Your time management is to die for. I’m looking forward to the book. I loved reading your blog and archives.


Sarah • July 25, 2007 at 12:54 pm

I think one of my favorite things about starting a new year is the fact that I get to buy a new calendar/planner refills and sit down and fill out everything I can think of with multi-colored gel pens. It’s so satisfying!

For weight loss, I love those smaller, checkbook sized calendars you get for free from everywhere it seems…it’s nice for keeping track of points, exercize, water, fruits and veggies in a small, portable way.


Morphidae • July 25, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Oh, boy. I’m in trouble. I’m a “C” – Lower-right thinkers are emotional, spiritual and focused on people and human connection.

I have some “B” tendencies though, I love to-do lists.


Jenny • July 25, 2007 at 1:09 pm

What happens if you’re “All of the above?”

I thought so.

Time to go control my control issues.


PastaQueen • July 25, 2007 at 1:10 pm

BrightAngel – Thanks for the rec, but even though I like to plan things I’ve found I don’t really like tracking my food down to the last calorie because I obsess over it. And it also makes me think about food a lot, which makes me hungry. But I do like free things, so maybe someone else in the thread will find it helpful.


shinypenny • July 25, 2007 at 5:05 pm

Pasta Queen, how were you ever fat? Your time management is to die for. I’m looking forward to the book. I loved reading your blog and archives.

I’m going to second Joanna here: how on earth did you ever get fat to begin with? All the extremely organized people I know are thin.


starbird • July 25, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Jenny – that was exactly my question – I’m all of the above, or none of the above, too. But a couple of paragraphs in the link to the original article that PQ kindly provided did ring some bells for me. These are exactly what I used to a. Stop drinking. b. Stop smoking and c. Lose some weight – still working on this one, but don’t have far to go. The hardest part as just about everyone here knows.

Anyway, here are the grafs:

They’d all gone through an inner transformation almost like those celebrated in traditional rites of passage. Each had found a coach, mentor or guide for the journey; had pulled back and separated somewhat from his or her old environment; and then was “reborn” into a different way of life. The newly thin person became a leader rather than a follower, a change that opened the door to further goals and achievements, often in fields completely unrelated to weight loss.

“All the subjects had incorporated some meditative element into their lives,” Treitler says. “It might have been walking or yoga, but it was self time, a white space where they could disengage from the old, obsessive behavior.” This transformation of identity appears crucial in keeping weight off. Without a new self who’s clearly different from the old, overweight one, it’s too easy to revert to former unhealthy habits.

I’ve bolded the two main points for me.


origamifreak • July 25, 2007 at 6:46 pm

Very interesting!

I’m not sure how good this test is, but there’s a mini-assessment here: http://www.venture-spark.com/Screens/HbdiAssessment.aspx

I’m hoping these results mean I have a reasonable shot at getting it off (again) and this time, Keeping It Off:



(quadrant B?)



(quadrant A?)



(quadrant C?)



(quadrant D?)


Mary • July 25, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Very interesting article. Thank you, PQ. I just discovered your blog and read some of the “best entries.” No wonder you’ve been asked to write a book. Your perspective is original and thoughtful. Also, you are funny without being flippant. I hope I can learn a lot more from your type “B” musings as I am more a “C” (and sport a “triple D”). Congrats on your achievements.


Fiona • July 26, 2007 at 4:08 am

I’ve been a “lists” person for years so I can relate. As an example, the last time I planned a holiday (with detailed itinerary), my husband said “great, add pictures and we don’t even need to go”. Can anyone say control freak?

On a more general note, I’ve just found your blog and am very impressed. You’re on an incredible journey, keep the momentum up and remember all the people like me who are wishing you well!


Sally • July 27, 2007 at 3:26 am

I use my calendar as way of reminding me the importance of exercise. The visual representation of my daily performance is a good way of motivating me.


Terri • July 27, 2007 at 8:44 pm

Sally makes a good use of her calendar. I used to put mine on the desk so that it will remind me of my daily routine every time I sit down and do something.


katecontinued • July 29, 2007 at 12:23 pm

If I have a timetable, it seats at least 50.

I adore this line.


Pat • July 29, 2007 at 8:38 pm

I also write down things I’ve missed on my calendar. It’s a great way of reminding myself that I’ve already missed it and don’t have to do it again.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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