One of the big concerns the psychological community has regarding popular weight loss programs is the emphasis placed on weight loss, rather than on lifestyle changes. Such programs tend to offer quick weight loss but don’t offer much for people looking to keep weight off. Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, a licensed psychologist specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy, writes in Psychology Today (see references) that he believes he has a way to change all that, at least for those who are willing to listen.
Rather than looking at weight loss as the ultimate goal, he suggests people should try to think of weight loss as a symptom rather than a condition. People tend to weigh too much because they eat more calories than they burn; it’s a simple formula both for weight gain and loss. The trick is in learning to eat appropriately and to exercise more. But simply telling yourself that isn’t enough he acknowledges; there has to be a plan of action,A and he’s got one. He calls it: L.O.S.E. for Letting go, Options, Setting goals, and Engaging in new thoughts and behaviors.
Letting Go – This involves asking what sorts of thoughts and behaviors contribute to the problem and need to be left in the past. Asking about such thoughts and the behavior that results helps to clarify why you eat too much. Many people over eat, for example, out of guilt or other types of emotional stress. Some use food as a means to find comfort. To lose weight and keep it off, people need to identify these triggers and then find other ways to get what they need that doesn’t involve food.
Options – This step refers to options people can use to make themselves more accountable for their own actions. Realizing that you can’t blame anybody or anything else for your condition is actually empowering; it gives you the opportunity to take charge of your life.
Setting Goals – A person who wishes to lose weight must set goals that are reasonable and that fit in with a healthy lifestyle. This is where the real work begins, whether it’s to remove a negative element from your life, such as candy, or to start taking walks in the evening. Setting goals is needed because otherwise there won’t be anything to strive for.
Engaging in New Thoughts and Behaviors- Filling in the vacancies created when letting go of old thoughts and behaviors requires new thoughts and behaviors that should be the empowering, healthy kinds that let you move on with your life in ways that don’t revolve around eating.
Whether someone uses Dr. Bernstein’s technique, or another by another doctor, the basis is the same. Losing weight and keeping it off comes down to deciding that you’ve had enough and understand that doing something about it will require changes in your life, not just jumping on the next diet fad.