If you’re fighting the battle of the bulge, you’re certainly not alone. Sixty-three percent —nearly 2 out of every 3—Australians are medically classified as overweight. You might think your weight is solely a health concern, but mental health is an important factor in your overall health! If diet and exercise aren’t working, or you can’t seem to get up the motivation to stick with a fitness plan, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Many people use food to cope with underlying psychological issues, and almost all overweight people have an unhealthy relationship with food that causes them to overeat when stress. You don’t have to live like this forever, though. Research consistently proves that therapy is highly effective at helping people lose wight. Here’s how therapy can help you.
Confidentiality and No Judgment
When you go to the doctor, you may be worried that talking openly about your habits will yield nothing but shame and judgment. Maybe you lie to others, or even yourself, about how much you eat. Though this can shield you from the pain of exploring the factors behind your obesity, it won’t protect you in the long-term, and only enables you to continue packing on the pounds. Therapists specialize in listening without shaming or judging you, and they understand how difficult the battle against weight gain truly is. Your therapist cannot tell anyone about what you say in therapy, not even your family or spouse. And your therapist will never judge you. Instead, he or she will encourage you to talk honestly about your challenges so that together, the two of you can tackle your weight loss goals.
Debunking Myths, Taking Responsibility
Many people become overweight because they don’t have the knowledge they need to remain healthy. For instance, the notion that if your parents are overweight, you’re also destined to be can inhibit your desire to adopt healthy habits. Therapy encourages you to look at your own behavior, and to then find new ways to deal with old problems. This allows you to take responsibility without fear of judgment. Your therapist may also use this time as a chance to educate you about healthy eating, and address any myths you believe about weight and diet.
Getting a Plan in Place
No matter why you’re going to therapy, the goal of therapy is ultimately to develop a clear plan for getting from where you are to where you want to be. Your therapist won’t ask you to do things you can’t do. Instead, he or she will take into account your current needs and challenges, then work with you to craft a plan you can stick with for the long haul. Having this plan makes it easier to track your progress. And if you fall off the wagon and abandon the plan, your therapist will be ready to help you figure out why.
Offering Emotional Support
At their heart, most weight problems are actually emotional problems. People overeat because they’re anxious or sad. They avoid exercise because they’re ashamed or too stressed. And they continue gaining weight because they feel hopeless, worthless, or overwhelmed. Therapy offers you emotional support for every step of the weight loss journey. This support makes losing weight easier, and enables you to identify the specific challenges that make it tough for you to lose weight. Diet and exercise alone can’t do this; therapy begins treating the problem from the inside out, so that you can keep the weight off for good once you’ve lost it.
Navigating Challenging Relationships
Humans are social creatures; we literally cannot live without others. Deprived of human contact for long enough, people die or become severely ill. But our relationships with others can also be a source of pain and stress. If a troubled marriage, friendship, or relationship with a parent leaves you tempted to overeat, therapy can help you find better ways to manage the relationship—all while encouraging you to take note of anything you are doing that might be contributing to the issues you experience. To make matters worse, many overweight people face a constant onslaught of pressure and judgment to lose weight. Your therapist can help you address these challenges, without turning to food to help you cope.