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Karen Kerschmann, LCSW View Entire Blog

Cbt for Weight Loss

1/11/2017
When you make the decision to lose weight, you probably think about cutting calories, reducing fat or carbohydrates and increasing your daily exercise. While these are all excellent strategies for getting rid of those excess pounds and many doctors recommend them, we continue to be a country plagued by obesity and the health problems that are associated with it. This leads us to the conclusion that diet and exercise alone are often not enough.

To understand why cognitive behavioral therapy helps people to lose weight, it is first important to understand the strategies a therapist will use when including it in a treatment plan.

Setting Goals for Weight Loss
The first step in losing weight is to learn how to set goals. While this might seem simple, goals involve more than just stating that you would like to lose 20 pounds or lower your blood pressure. They should include both short-term and long-term ambitions and be clear, concise and easily obtainable. In cognitive behavioral therapy, the psychotherapist asks you what you hope to gain from treatment and from your weight loss plan and helps you to design goals that are specific and attainable. The therapist also checks in with you during sessions to gather important feedback about your progress and help you to make any necessary modifications that will result in improved outcomes.

Increasing Positive Expectations
After you have set clear and concise goals, it is next important to boost self-belief. For weight loss to be effective, you will learn believe that your weight loss plan will work and understand the skills you already have to take the necessary steps to make it happen. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to realize that unhelpful thoughts exist and replace them with more useful ones. It also provides you with strategies that can be used when your mind begins to wander back to negativity and mental exercises to practice every day that help you to stay positive. Changing how you think naturally lends to increased hopefulness about the future, and it causes many clients to begin to believe that they are capable of moving forward toward a new level of health, making it easier for them to ultimately reach their weight loss goals.

Changing How You Act and React
In addition to changing how you think about yourself and your ability to lose weight, CBT also helps you to focus on altering the behaviors that have previously sabotaged your diet and exercise plans. This involves self-monitoring your own individual experiences and recognizing barriers, physical cues that you are heading toward a setback and challenges that have been standing in the way of your success. Your therapist may recommend that you keep a food and exercise log or journal about daily thoughts and feelings. This information is then shared during sessions, helping you to recognize the barriers you are faced with and think through ways in which you can change your behaviors and cause different, more positive outcomes.

Feedback and Your Ability to Lose Weight
Cognitive behavioral therapy for weight loss is typically short term, and many clients only attend sessions for a few months before seeing results. During this time, your therapist acts as an external measuring stick by providing you with feedback about your progress, thoughts, actions and goals. This type of support is quite motivating and helps many to maintain expectations that are both ambitious and realistic.