Weight Loss and Healthy Lifestyle
Interest vs. Commitment
Clearly you have the desire to change how you feed yourself because you’re reading this essay.
The difficult part, however, is recognizing the important difference between interest and commitment as relates to successful long-term behavioral modification.
Behavior that you are interested in changing will be easy to address only so long as it’s convenient. Commitment to change, on the other hand, requires employing the new behavior regardless of how you feel, and doing mental battle with ingrained, well-honed excuses because you will not be deterred from doing what is healthiest for you.
Sometimes on-going emotional problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, or persistent relationship issues need to be addressed before beginning to deal with unhealthy eating habits. The only answer is to be honest with yourself and proactively seek the help you need.
Get Emotional Support
You are the leader in your efforts to improve your health, and your weight is an indicator or parameter of good health. That doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. Seek support when needed from your partner, family and friends, and be very cautious of people who try to lure you back into old, unhealthy behaviors.
People you know, respect, and admire and who are already doing the behaviors you want to consistently employ will be your most valuable allies. They will understand and applaud your efforts, and a wonderful by-product of choosing healthy behaviors is that you will automatically increase your self-esteem as a result of their support.
Steady As You Go
You would not be here if your ancestors weren’t able to lay down body fat. We humans are very talented in that way, so our bodies are genetically prone to easily accumulate pounds and resist our efforts to shed them.
Weight loss is healthiest and the most attainable when we think in terms of 1/2 to 2 pounds of fat per week. That’s about all the human body begrudgingly will give up without also decreasing lean muscle tissue and reducing your metabolism, which in turn makes it harder to achieve the weight-loss results you want. This insidious side-effect is the ultimate downfall of any weight loss diet, and it’s the reason diets in and of themselves don’t work. They are isolated events and contrary to the normal, healthy way of eating for the human body.
Planning, embracing curiosity about feelings and thoughts you experience connected with the decisions you make, and observing and celebrating your improved behaviors best contribute to your success. Think in terms of choosing healthy behaviors rather than outcome goals such as clothing sizes, a predetermined weight, or a specific date to accomplish your objectives.
Exercising regularly and limiting portion sizes are process goals, and they focus your attention on objectives that are immediately obtainable. Changing your thinking is the key to weight loss. Make sure that your process goals are realistic, specific and measurable. Deciding you’ll walk for 30 minutes a day, five days a week if possible in the early morning sunlight, for example, rather than saying to yourself that you’ll simply walk more.
Select Healthier Foods
Start by selecting foods in their natural form: fresh vegetables and fruits in a rainbow of colors, protein, and healthy fats. Markedly reduce or temporarily eliminate treat food: pies, cakes, cookies, puddings, ice cream, packaged, processed foods, and the white foods. Keep away from artificial sweeteners (they only make you want to eat more) and no-fat items.
Humans need fat—the good kind—canola, olive, and coconut. Shop the outside aisles of the grocery store and don’t buy anything with an ingredient that sounds like a chemistry term. Adhering to a new eating style will be best accomplished by a devotion to your health.
Increase Physical Activity
Get out in the early morning sunshine if possible, for at least a 30-minute walk. Research tells us that the sunshine on your retinas while it is still at the early morning angle helps raise our mood. Enjoy yourself, notice your surroundings and appreciate nature. It’s an evolved thing to do. For the very overweight and obese, it’s important that you do this cautiously so as not to injure or put too much stress on your knees and hips. Resolve to get as much walking as possible (without joint pain) and increase your exercise as you reduce weight.
Exercising helps burn more calories, but you get even more benefits: reduction in stress, and the sense of accomplishment in progressing toward a new, healthier lifestyle. Think in terms of how you can move more by using the stairs or parking so as to increase the distance you have to walk to your destination.
Make Lifestyle Adjustments
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to incorporate these changes for only a few weeks or even several months. The longer and more consistently you persist in healthier behaviors, the greater the possibility you will leave poor functioning behind. Practice makes us consistent.
And yes, we’re talking about that dreaded word: discipline. Start by acquiring an attitude of discipline. Look around you. What does your living space look like? Would you like a neighbor to drop in? Is there chaos all around, dishes in the sink from days ago, a less than inviting bathroom, and a disheveled bedroom and sheets that haven’t been changed for how long?
How about your car? Would you offer to take your office group or classmates to the restaurant? Are you often late for work or for appointments? Chaos breeds chaos. To gain control, behaviors must change. Lifestyle changes start with taking an honest look at your eating habits and daily routines one step at a time.
After assessing your personal challenges to weight loss, work out a strategy to gradually change behaviors and attitudes that have sabotaged past efforts. Start with curiosity. Embrace your thinking and figure out how that thinking is helpful or destructive. The secret to being curious is accepting where you are now, which helps you plan how you’ll deal with various challenges that get in the way of your health.
Occasional setbacks are also dealt with by being curious. Notice how you felt just before you didn’t do what you said you wanted to do. Was there a negative feeling involved? Stay in the present with yourself and resolve to choose your behavior starting with your very next action. You’ll feel more positive immediately and experience renewed encouragement to behave in the ways you desire.
For Your Austin Counseling Convenience
For more information, please call (512) 306-9992, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All inquiries are held in strict confidence. Please understand that no counseling will be provided via the Internet or e-mail. Working with you in person is the best way to help you achieve your goals.
Daytime and selected early-evening sessions are available, Tuesday through Thursday 10:00am to 6:30pm. You may choose from three types of sessions: individual, couples, and family. Please feel free to ask about other possibilities to fit your lifestyle and needs.
Ann McIntosh, MA, LCSW, Counseling and Psychotherapy
4407 Bee Cave Road
Building 5, Suite 513
Austin, Texas 78746
Video produced by Michael Quick of QuickOne Media
Ann McIntosh is also listed on the following Web site directories:
Psychology Today | YellowPages.com | Eating Disorder Referral and Information Service