The emotional aspects of weight loss

Weight loss is about much more than dropping pounds. Just ask anyone who once was on a successful journey of losing weight, and then finding themselves fighting those pounds later on. Clearly, the nuts and bolts of weight loss are eating habits and exercise, and both require a physical commitment. But lasting, successful weight loss involves powerful emotional support, as well.

Developing a healthy attitude toward our bodies, our weight and food can be quite challenging in today’s society. On one hand, food is a major element of just about every social gathering and occasion. We celebrate with food, fight stress with food and even mourn with food. Where does all of this leave us? For some, it can lead to an emotional dependence on the wrong kinds of foods, such a sweets. For others, it can lead to a negative image of our bodies and false hope of getting thin without too much effort.

More importantly, now that you have made the physical commitment to finding a healthier you, how do you make the emotional commitment? A good place to start is finding your motivation. What is it about your journey to a healthier you that motivates you? Are you losing weight to look better? Are you hoping to provide a healthy example to your children? Do you want to combat type 2 diabetes? When beginning a weight-loss journey, be prepared to think long-term. And, this journey really doesn’t need to have an ending - it is ongoing.

Many people use the word “diet” because it tends to be associated with short-term and drastic eating plans. Rather than focusing on a diet, commit yourself to learning what changes are necessary to be successful long term. It is amazing what a simple change in mindset can do. To be successful long term, you have to fix your thought process toward the journey. Everyone’s journey is different, and your relationship to food also is different than others. You have to find where you are the most emotionally attached to food, and why.

The stronger, more meaningful and realistic your motivation, the more likely you will succeed with your journey. For that reason, those who are motivated by health tend to make lasting changes more often than those who are motivated by body images in magazines or the media.

You need to accept who you are, loving who you are right now, then find the motivation to set goals to allow yourself to be the best you can be. Losing weight is definitely a challenge, but by putting all aspects of a healthy lifestyle in place, you can be successful. The emotional component often is the biggest piece of the puzzle. Examine where you need the most help and motivation, start there, and your journey to become a healthier you can happen.

Dana Bradley is a registered nurse, certified bariatric nurse and bariatric coordinator for the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center.

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