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Psychology of weight management

Last Modified: January 13, 2020

Family Medicine

weight loss

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) notes that almost half of Americans try to lose weight annually. With that number growing each year, it’s curious why more people aren’t having success. According to the Mayo Clinic, losing 1-2 pounds per week is a realistic weight loss goal, but is it that easy? 

Weight management is a complex process. However, if you know the facts and understand why weight loss doesn’t work the same way for everyone, you can start to overcome those obstacles and work toward reaching your goals.

A jumpstart with journaling

According to the American Psychological Association, when a person records what they eat in a daily log, they’re more successful at losing weight. When you record thoughts, feelings and information about the environment, it helps you understand your eating behaviors and can assist you in identifying areas that need changing.

Habits that hinder

One common eating behavior that could be impeding your weight loss is eating while watching television. Your brain thrives on pairings and associations. So, while you may not be physically hungry, your brain may provide you with a signal or the urge to eat while watching television. This is because it has paired watching television with snacking. The good news? You can retrain the brain by breaking the association.

Similarly, the biological process that occurs during times of stress makes you physically crave carbohydrates. This is because the brain still believes stress is an indication that your body needs to outrun something threatening and needs quick energy to do so.

Setting yourself up for success

In some cases, a psychologist or therapist can be helpful and aid a patient in identifying patterns of behaviors that are hindering their weight loss. One way is by offering mindfulness training, which is the psychological process of purposely focusing and bringing awareness to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment or prejudice. This helps by getting you off autopilot and feeling empowered to break habits that might be hampering your success. A psychologist or therapist is trained to help people identify those tough emotions while teaching them how to respond in a healthy, thoughtful way.

In addition to counseling, here are a few other key components that are extremely important in weight management:

  • Managing stress levels through various relaxation techniques
  • Creating healthy boundaries in all facets of your life
  • Getting the proper amount of sleep
  • Proper nutrition
  • Exercise

For more information or to take the first step in your wellness journey, visit PPG – Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery

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