How do you lose weight?…..Keep it off?…..Learn to like eating better?
There’s no shortage of books prescribing how to lose weight. Whatever ends up working, though, most people need a “toolbox” to keep themselves on a helpful plan, to stick with changes, and, finally, to turn the changes into habits.
Why a toolbox? In today’s world, most people—heavy or not—struggle to at least some degree to eat healthily and manage weight. A variety of tools can help with these efforts: tools that help strengthen foundations, dismantle obstacles, and fine-tune routines. They might include coping skills, for instance, planning or communications strategies. Several very common trouble spots can benefit. For example:
Practicalities – While we usually think of low willpower or stress eating when we think of failed diets, practical problems cause them just as often. Practicalities include planning and thinking ahead about meals and snacks, dealing with your family and budget, deciding how to handle restaurants and parties.
Thoughts – Most of us get stuck in at least some unhelpful thinking patterns. These thoughts become habits, and they prevent change. From “I just have bad genes” to “I deserve that sundae” to “I already blew it, so why bother”–we can find our efforts undone without even realizing the culprits are in our thoughts.
Emotions – It’s easy to overeat for soothing, for “stuffing” anger, or to manage stress. Many people simply cannot count on losing or keeping weight off without learning ways of caring for emotions without food.
Cravings – Cravings often intertwine with emotional eating. They grow out of the associations we form as we eat for emotion or stress management. And they also develop in response to the many foods that target our palates and brains—sugary or salty processed foods often engineered to be “hyperpalatable”.
Relationships – Here we overlap again with emotional overeating. From families that overfeed at holidays to spouses who undermine our efforts, true change often demands that we assert ourselves or communicate more clearly with family and friends.
Not everyone, of course, will face obstacles in each of these areas. Most will recognize a trouble spot (or two or three or four). Successful weight loss and maintenance may not, then, come so much from the specific diet you choose. Finding a way of eating that you can healthily live with certainly matters. But identifying trouble areas and dealing with them effectively spells the difference between satisfaction, and one more failed diet. That’s where the toolbox comes in.