How Psychologists Can Help with Weight Loss

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, almost 70% of adults (as well as one-third of the children) in the US are either overweight or obese. Not only can being overweight have a negative impact on a person’s health, it has also been directly correlated to self-esteem, happiness, and overall wellbeing. Luckily, there are different treatment strategies that focus on weight loss and improving an individual’s overall health and quality of life.

With the prevalence of weight loss books and the growing number of health food stores on the market, it appears evident that society is fixated on achieving a certain body image. By placing too much value on a healthy body, the negative feelings many people experience in relation to their self-image can be compounded. The constant focus on getting healthy makes “losing some weight” or “getting to the gym more often” among the most common New Year’s resolutions. However, what starts off as an exciting charge towards a worthy goal often slows down and disappears by mid-February.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the lack of nutritious food and exercise that prevents people from sticking to their weight loss plan, it is the lack of willpower and motivation that allow other things to get in the way of doing what it takes to meet your goals. Getting healthy and losing those few extra pounds requires a commitment to long-term lifestyle changes. A person must be driven to achieve their goals. Weight loss is just as much about mental change as it is about physical change. In a Psychology Today article, it was suggested that an individual’s motivation, sense of ownership, and self-confidence actually play a larger role in achieving weight loss goals than the pressure to comply with societal ideals.  In other words, weight loss is just as much a mental battle as it is physical.

You’re Not Alone/Finding Your Team

Reaching one’s goal is always easier with the insight, support and accountability of others. Psychologists who specialize in health psychology can be an important ally when seeking to make health-related changes. Psychologists are experts in human behavior…what drives it and what it takes to change. Who better to help you reach your weight loss goals?

Below are some of the many treatments that therapists may utilize to assist patients in overcoming the negative patterns that prevent them from accomplishing their personal goals:

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy is a “catch all” term for what psychologists generally do. It can include practical behavioral interventions as well as techniques and tips to make change easier. Psychotherapy can also help you understand yourself and your thinking patterns better so you know what is getting in the way of who you want to be and the life you want to live. Psychotherapy may also include stress management, mood stabilization, communication training and emotion processing. Psychotherapy focuses on building a positive body image, and common treatments for weight loss include:

Behavioral Medicine: Behavioral medicine is a broad, interdisciplinary field that integrates biomedical, behavioral, and psychological science and techniques to prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate a variety of medical and mental health conditions.

Behavioral medicine can help patients who are struggling with weight loss goals by identifying the physiological, psychological and behavioral patterns that get in the way of maintaining a healthy weight.

Medication Management: There are some mental health symptoms that can make it difficult to achieve weight loss goals. Depression, anxiety, and even mood-related issues can make it almost impossible to stick to a health plan.

Psychiatrists can help treat most of these issues with a combination of medications and therapy to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Our team has a balanced and practical approach to medication management, which means we will minimize the dosage and the number of medications necessary to reduce symptoms and facilitate a healthy weight all year long.

Losing unhealthy weight is a challenging-but-important endeavor. Patients will be more likely to succeed in their weight loss goals when they have the full support of someone who understands what they’re going through. Our team can help patients get unstuck from the negative physical, mental and emotional barriers that keep them from achieving their weight loss goals.

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