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.
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.
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.
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 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.