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Tips for Losing Weight Changing Behavior & Getting Support

Dealing with obesity and similar weight-control problems requires adopting new habits that foster a healthier lifestyle, but don’t attempt radical changes to your diet or activity patterns. You risk not only compounding what is already a precarious health situation, but also overlooking the core attitude and emotional issues that caused obesity in the first place.

Instead, consider a team approach that involves several qualified health professionals. Your physician will help you develop a safe plan for losing weight that includes both diet and exercise. A psychologist can help you with the emotional side of the equation-the stress, depression, or experiences that caused you to gain weight.

Here are some other things to consider in helping you or someone you know take action against obesity: Think about what you eat and why. Track your eating habits by writing down everything you eat, including time of day and amount of food. Also record what was going through your mind at the time. Were you sad or upset with something? Or, had you just finished a stressful experience and felt the need for “comfort food?”

Cut down on portions while eating the same foods. Along with making dieting feel less depriving, you’ll soon find that the smaller portions are just as satisfying. This will also give you a platform to safely curb your appetite even more.

Note that while treating obesity often helps decrease feelings of depression, weight loss is never successful if you remain burdened by stress and other negative feelings. You may have to work to resolve these issues first before beginning a weight- loss program.

Losing weight is always easier when you have the support of friends and family. Try to enlist the entire household in eating a healthier diet. Many hospitals and schools also sponsor support groups made up of people who offer each other valuable encouragement and support. Research shows that people who participate in such groups lose more weight than going it alone.

Use the “buddy system.” Ask a friend or family member to be “on-call” for moral support when you’re tempted to stray from your new lifestyle. Just be sure you’re not competing with this person to lose weight.

Don’t obsess over “bad days” when you can’t help eating more. This is often a problem for women who tend to be overly hard on themselves for losing discipline. Look at what thoughts or feelings caused you to eat more on a particular day, and how you can deal with them in ways other than binge eating. A psychologist can help you formulate an action plan for managing these uncomfortable feelings.

Article reprinted with permission from the American Psychological Association.

 

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