We are pleased to bring you this regular column by Dr. David Creel, a licensed psychologist, certified clinical exercise physiologist and registered dietitian. He is also credentialed as a certified diabetes educator and the author of A Size That Fits: Lose Weight and Keep it off, One Thought at a Time (NorLightsPress, 2017).
Do you have a weight loss question for Dr. Creel? Email him at [email protected]. He may answer your question in a future column.
This article concludes our overview of everything we’ve discussed about weight management. I hope you’ll be reminded of ideas that resonated with you, and perhaps you’ll decide to reread a particular chapter.
Change Your Thinking
Thinking differently can help us prevent negative emotions and handle them better when they do occur. As a result, changing our thinking can help us manage our weight.
Thoughts lead to behavior. Therefore, much of the hard work of managing weight should focus on our oft-neglected beliefs related to food choices, physical activity and general life challenges. That’s why much of my writing is dedicated to the relationship between feelings, behavior, and thinking differently.
The perfect lifestyle plan is the one you can follow, and the only way to follow it is to have a healthy and willing perspective. When you develop this point of view, your weight management journey will be characterized by wisdom, patience, persistence and resiliency.
Keeping the Weight Off
Obesity is a chronic, often relapsing condition and the hardest part of weight management isn’t losing weight: it’s keeping the weight off. That’s why I recommend you begin creating relapse-prevention strategies early in your weight management journey.
Your master plan for preventing relapse should include changing your environment, planning for high-risk situations, viewing your behavior as a choice, and perhaps practicing the controlled eating of trigger foods. Other relapse strategies include changing faulty thinking, noticing problems right away and taking action, and seeking help from others. These simple tools will keep you on track.
Medication and bariatric surgery increase the chances for a better outcome, but these interventions aren’t for everyone. No matter what approach you and your physician decide is best, behavior change is required. Bariatric surgery is not brain surgery and an appetite suppressant doesn’t cause vegetables to float onto plates or put tennis shoes on feet. We still have to heed the voice of wisdom when deciding about food and exercise.
Systems of Change
For permanent change, we need to modify multiple systems within our lives:
- the system of family and work;
- the system of thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and emotions;
- the system we use to define pleasure;
- and the system that dictates how we balance short-term satisfaction with the gratification of working toward long-term
Since you’re part of each of these systems, you can change them. Recently a patient reminded me that the challenges of managing weight needn’t be a struggle. She said, “I don’t see the changes I make as hardships—I view them as opportunities.”
We have a path in front of us filled with opportunities for self-reflection, overcoming obstacles, getting help when we need it, and changing how we think. Sometimes the path can seem narrow; at other times it feels steep and rocky. Sometimes we stumble and fall, but we can always get up, dust ourselves off and keep going.
The rewards sometimes lie within moment-to-moment accomplishments; at other times the path takes us to wide open, beautiful spaces. When we look back, we’re amazed at what we’ve accomplished. Looking forward, we’re filled with hope for future achievements and the joy that accompanies them.
Your Recipe for Weight Management
Most weight management books end with a recipe section for low-calorie food. I’m following this tradition but in a slightly different way—with a recipe for weight management success:
Recipe for Weight Management Success
One bunch of balanced eating, marinated daily in physical activity
An ounce of knowledge
One package of purpose
A cup of commitment
A dash of pleasure substitute
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl of support, slice into realistic goals, and coat the slices with healthy thinking and resiliency. Sprinkle with awareness. Bake with patience.
Yourself, everyone you care about and those that depend on you.
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