Behavioral therapy? You want to lose weight, you’ve tried it and even achieved some successes, but the long-term result has been useless.
Research has shown that actual weight control depends on several physical, psychological, or behavioral factors.
Behavioral therapy is a medical discipline that can help you achieve that control.
Over the past decades, behavior therapy has become an effective process for achieving weight loss of up to 50 pounds and changing your attitudes, habits, and lifestyle.
If you need to lose more weight, it may be necessary to use ancillary methods.
Behavioral therapy will be standard in many medical centers, including commercial weight loss programs.
But it is not a super-fast solution, although it can help you control your weight and develop a perpetual pattern of a healthy existence.
THE THREE-STEP PROGRAM
Behavioral therapy is based on three essential elements:
- Eating habits. By selecting nutritious foods, in appropriate quantities, we can control weight.
- Exercise. If we train regularly along with modifying our diet, we can better maintain the new weight than if we rely on food.
- Social support. We all need help from other people who care about what we are trying to do. Conversely, there will always be people who ridicule our efforts or try to force us to eat more than is healthy. Behavior therapy programs help us confront our detractors and draw strength from our supporters.
Many of these programs offer teamwork, with key members, including a physician, dietitian, psychologist, and exercise physiologist.
Social support and exercise programs should play a role identical to that of diet.
PREPARING THE MIND TO LOSE WEIGHT
Behavioral therapy combines comprehensive evaluations with practical advice for everyday life.
These are some of the critical concepts of behavior therapy:
Setting realistic goals
Vague or excessive objectives lead to futile actions and final discouragement.
Instead, we should set specific and realistic goals (I will have a whole grain roll for breakfast instead of skipping it and accompanying the mid-morning break with a donut.)
As we achieve them, we should set new and more ambitious ones.
Keep the joy
The best intentions do not help to achieve objectives that we perceive as impossible.
Remember that there are many ways to lead a healthy life. You may not like to walk too much, but dance or “aerobics” will.
We give you more tips on how to maintain your joy in our article “How to Improve your Mood (feel-good techniques).”
Understand what you are doing
You must keep a written record of what you eat and the type of exercise you are doing. A diary will help you progress towards your goal.
In terms of dietary modification, you will be able to analyze what you eat, how much, the time of day, the place, the presence around you, and the feeling about the experience.
For example, you may find that you overeat to cope with boredom or depression or to celebrate happy occasions.
Remembering your actions is the first step in discovering other ways to control your emotions.
Failing but not giving up
Nobody’s a superwoman. An occasional binge or skipping a few training sessions is a logical flaw.
However, to give up would mean, for example, giving up our efforts for good in pursuit of the goal we set for ourselves and, above all, believing that we have failed and that the fight is futile.
We must eradicate the words “success” and “failure” from our vocabulary. Think only of the steps that lead to the goal, which can always be renewed and adjusted.
Does weight control mean you’ll never be able to eat your favorite food again?
No way. It’s just about discipline and accepting the limits it places on you.
THE BENEFITS OF BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
Before signing up for a behavioral therapy program, you must undergo a medical evaluation to find out if this is the right alternative.
When the right individuals are selected for a behavioral program, the dropout rate is 10 percent or less (as opposed to 25 to 75 percent for other types of weight loss programs.)
Half of all people who seek medical help for weight control experience anxiety, depression, and irritability.
Behavioral therapy programs anticipate these reactions and help their participants overcome them.
Behavior therapy programs usually last several months, apart from becoming acclimatized.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to make the person independent, able to maintain a healthy lifestyle in the face of everyday challenges.
The advantages of behavioral therapy are that the programs are tailored to the strengths and needs of each individual.
These programs should help us understand that we are capable of controlling our lives and that we can make healthy decisions that will be valid for the rest of our existence.