It’s sunblock and swimsuit time in San Diego! Most of us are making sure we have our summer essentials in place, and pretty soon it will be time do your favorite summer activities! Like clockwork, my clients begin to express anxiety about an upcoming pool party or BBQ where they may be wearing a lot less than they have in the last few months. I’m getting the annual calls asking, “Can I use CBT for weight loss?”, and more often, “I can lose the weight but gain it right back, how can you help me?”.
If you’ve never lost a pound or if you’ve successfully lost weight only to gain it back, you are certainly not alone. Cutting calories, exercising more, and watching your carbs is not enough on their own. Almost everyone knows what they need to do to lose weight, but may not be clear on how to make it happen. The most powerful aspect of moving towards a healthy body is a change in mindset. Knowing that each individual has their own reasons for wanting to change, what works for one client will almost certainly not work for everyone. Creating a specific plan, tailored to your unique thought process, can make a significant difference in effective weight loss.
What is the best diet plan for weight loss?
You can use any reasonable diet you want- when you pair it with new habits of thought you will see it work. The question is not simply ‘What is the best weight loss plan?’, but rather- ‘How can I think differently about myself and my health?’. This is where cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) comes into play, as it guides you to focus on changing your perceptions of yourself and replace sabotaging thoughts, which can lead to massive long-term changes in your health.
Do this first before anything else….
One of the first exercises I complete with clients is to create an ‘advantages’ card, which is outlined with more detail in Judith Beck’s book outlining CBT for weight loss, The Beck Diet Solution. When you write down the reasons you want to lose weight, it can really add a boost to your motivation. Looking at it a couple of times a day can build excitement in reaching your big goal. The advantages card is your ‘eyes on the prize’ reminder, and whenever you hear yourself saying “One donut won’t hurt”, you pull out your handy card out to kindly remind you what you truly want. The more you conquer your cravings, the more confident you will become in knowing you can do this!
Messed up? Excellent!
Relapse is part and parcel of changing any habit- it’s also one of the most exciting opportunities for change. Now is when your new CBT for weight loss skills are put to the test, as you begin to see how to shift your behaviors and habits that combat those negative, self-sabotaging thoughts. We only change when we are uncomfortable, so when you are struggling or simply doubting yourself this is when the magic happens. Most of us are much more capable than we give ourselves credit for; imagine how pushing yourself through this challenge will confirm strong you really are. This is the time to use your supports to boost you up and let you know you can do it!
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve already discovered that establishing weight loss plans on without outside help often doesn’t produce the results you aim for. Evaluating and making shifts in the way you look at your problem can create a long-lasting solution that will not only help you lose weight, but also help you recognize skills and resources within you that can be useful in any aspect of your life.
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When you make the decision to lose weight, you probably think about cutting calories, reducing fat or carbohydrates and increasing your daily exercise. While these are all excellent strategies for getting rid of those excess pounds and many doctors recommend them, we continue to be a country plagued by obesity and the health problems that are associated with it. This leads us to the conclusion that diet and exercise alone are often not enough. This is where CBT for weight loss can help.
While a lot of people who begin a diet are intensely focused on watching calories, many forget to consider the underlying issues that may be causing them to overeat or lack energy and motivation in the first place. They also forget to focus on modifying unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that often stand in the way as they attempt to eat better or exercise more. While they may be successful in the short term, their bad habits tend to creep back in over time, and this often results in a rebound effect that once again increases inches and pounds.
Summer is right around the corner! Weight loss has many benefits, and CBT can help you learn the tools for long-term change
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a highly recommended therapeutic practice that focuses on changing self-perceptions, actions and behaviors. It is very effective for a wide range of problems and has helped many individuals to make permanent lifestyle changes and lose those last few pounds or overcome obesity.
To understand why cognitive behavioral therapy helps people to lose weight, it is first important to understand the strategies a therapist will use when including it in a treatment plan.
Setting Goals for Weight Loss
The first step in losing weight is to learn how to set goals. While this might seem simple, goals involve more than just stating that you would like to lose 20 pounds or lower your blood pressure. They should include both short-term and long-term ambitions and be clear, concise and easily obtainable. In cognitive behavioral therapy, the psychotherapist asks you what you hope to gain from treatment and from your weight loss plan and helps you to design goals that are specific and attainable. The therapist also checks in with you during sessions to gather important feedback about your progress and help you to make any necessary modifications that will result in improved outcomes.
Increasing Positive Expectations
After you have set clear and concise goals, it is next important to boost self-belief. For weight loss to be effective, you will learn believe that your weight loss plan will work and understand the skills you already have to take the necessary steps to make it happen. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to realize that unhelpful thoughts exist and replace them with more useful ones. It also provides you with strategies that can be used when your mind begins to wander back to negativity and mental exercises to practice every day that help you to stay positive. Changing how you think naturally lends to increased hopefulness about the future, and it causes many clients to begin to believe that they are capable of moving forward toward a new level of health, making it easier for them to ultimately reach their weight loss goals.
Changing How You Act and React
In addition to changing how you think about yourself and your ability to lose weight, CBT also helps you to focus on altering the behaviors that have previously sabotaged your diet and exercise plans. This involves self-monitoring your own individual experiences and recognizing barriers, physical cues that you are heading toward a setback and challenges that have been standing in the way of your success. Your therapist may recommend that you keep a food and exercise log or journal about daily thoughts and feelings. This information is then shared during sessions, helping you to recognize the barriers you are faced with and think through ways in which you can change your behaviors and cause different, more positive outcomes.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Feedback and Your Ability to Lose Weight
Cognitive behavioral therapy for weight loss is typically short term, and many clients only attend sessions for a few months before seeing results. During this time, your therapist acts as an external measuring stick by providing you with feedback about your progress, thoughts, actions and goals. This type of support is quite motivating and helps many to maintain expectations that are both ambitious and realistic.
Losing weight involves more than just mindlessly following a plan that cuts calories and increases exercise. It involves making a conscious choice to change your lifestyle, setting realistic goals and believing in yourself enough to accomplish them. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a beneficial tool that helps individuals to alter their mindset and address negative behaviors that are sabotaging their weight loss efforts. If you are struggling to lose weight, constantly finding yourself rebounding from diet after diet or facing dire health consequences because of extra pound, CBT for weight loss may be the solution you have been searching for. As a licensed psychotherapist in San Diego, I have helped many to enjoy the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy, reach their weight loss goals and enjoy a happier, healthier life. To learn more, contact me and schedule a consultation.
According to a recent Gallup poll, more than 51-percent of Americans want to lose weight, but only about 25-percent have found a way to seriously work toward their goal of shedding pounds and losing inches. Diets are complex, and most weight loss plans either do not work or work slowly, meaning results are not seen for weeks or months. Add to this the fact that many individuals fail to address the underlying reasons for obesity, and it easy to understand the large discrepancy between those who want to shed pounds and those actually doing something about it.
In an ongoing effort to find new methods that help individuals work through the physical and psychological reasons behind being overweight, there is a resurging interest in hypnosis for weight loss. With hypnosis, individuals are able to change their perspective about food, disassociate their real self from negative thoughts and images that are inside the mind, re-frame negative images to ones that are more positive and learn how to recognize what they really want when they are using food as a coping mechanism.
Undergoing a hypnosis session for weight loss involves entering an altered state of consciousness that allows for a new level of relaxation. In this state, individuals are more open to positive suggestions and often realize the inner strengths that can help them to lose weight effectively and keep unwanted pounds off. Hypnosis sessions might also include guided visualization which helps you to see the journey you are on and watch yourself eating healthier foods, making positive lifestyle changes and losing unwanted pounds. Visualizing yourself as success can be very powerful, and it can help to re-frame any negative thoughts that currently exist inside your mind.
The idea of undergoing hypnosis for weight loss is sometimes scary, but it helps to realize that hypnotic trances occur normally in our day to day lives. Self-induced states of hypnosis occur when individuals fall into a daydream at the office, feel zoned out in front of a favorite television show or in any way become less aware of the outside environment. While in a hypnotic state, the mind is simply more open to suggestions, and individuals cannot be forced to do anything that goes against their moral beliefs or personal values.
One of the most effective ways to use hypnosis when trying to lose weight is to combine it with cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of therapy offers very effective strategies that can help you to develop coping techniques and overcome negative thought patterns. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to recognize barriers to your weight loss, develop techniques to overcome those barriers and set realistic goals that can help you to obtain a healthier lifestyle and body. Your therapist provides regular feedback regarding your efforts and results and keeps you motivated with positive reinforcement and a re-framed mindset focusing on what you can achieve when it comes to losing weight.
While skeptics still exist regarding the effectiveness of combining cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy for weight loss, research on this subject has surprisingly positive outcomes. In a 1985 issue of The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, a study was analyzed that included 109 people who completed a behavioral therapy program for weight loss. Half of the subjects had a hypnosis element added to their program. Subjects with receiving solely cognitive behavioral therapy had as much weight loss success as those receiving additional hypnotherapy, but the subjects who participated in hypnosis continued to lose weight at eight-month and two-year follow-ups in significant numbers. Those who received only cognitive behavioral therapy did not.
Another important piece of research conducted by the University of Connecticut regarding hypnosis as a form of therapy to benefit weight loss efforts looked at 19 studies comparing cognitive behavioral therapy as an exclusive program for weight loss versus cognitive behavioral therapy subsidized by hypnosis. Findings showed that adding hypnosis increased weight loss efforts for 90-percent of the participants and helped subjects to maintain their weight loss efforts up to two years after studies ended.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and practicing therapist, it is my professional opinion that the best approach to losing weight is to combine healthy eating habits, regular exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, and hypnotherapy. When taking this approach, it is important to seek out a qualified therapist with experience in various interventions. Visit with the therapist prior to your hypnosis session, and make sure that the individual helps you to feel relaxed and comfortable in the office. Your therapist should empower you with words and coping techniques in order to assist you in conquering your negative mindset so you can overcome your weight loss challenges. If you are interested in hypnotherapy for weight loss in San Diego, contact my office to schedule a consultation.