Are you beginning your weight loss journey? If so, chances are you’re well educated on the effects dieting and exercise have on dropping unwanted pounds.
But, have you ever considered therapy? Yes, therapy.
The link between healthy thoughts and a healthy weight is undeniable. Research has shown time and time again the connection our bodies and minds have is far more robust than you may realize.
Techniques, encouragement, and support from a mental health professional can not only help you lose weight but can help you live a healthier life in the long run.
So how does seeing a therapist help you scale down a few pants sizes, feel better about yourself, and keep you motivated when you want to give up? That’s exactly what we will talk about in this article.
Stay with me so you can confidently add this vital piece of the weight loss puzzle into your life.
A Brief History Of Toxic Diet Culture:
Before we jump right into how mental health counseling can help you lose weight, let’s address the methods and mindset of traditional weight-loss culture, and why they don’t work for everyone.
Society is obsessed with the idea that being skinny is ‘good’ and being fat is ‘bad’. This ideology is incredibly harmful to people of all ages, races, and genders, and has been the root cause of eating disorders for centuries.
Dating back to ancient Greece, belief systems surrounding balance and moderation led citizens to believe that being overweight was an imbalance that needed to be corrected immediately.
Not only did Greeks begin spreading false information about weight, but an astronomer in 1831 also developed the first BMI system, meant to study the average weight of a population. However, medical companies caught wind and began to use it as a method of determining obesity in individuals.
Despite decades of research dismissing these ideas, diet culture is more toxic than ever largely in part to social media.
Through blogs and pages dedicated to “thinspiration” and becoming “that girl” harmful methods of restrictive eating and excessive exercise have been on the rise. These dangerous activities have been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders.
The simple, yet damaging mindset that you must be thin to be worthy, has completely disregarded those with genetic factors, environmental roadblocks, and health conditions that prevent weight loss from happening easily.
5 Ways Seeing A Counselor Can Help You Lose Weight:
Counseling Can Help Boost Your Self Esteem
Counseling Can Address The Toxic ‘Punishment’ Mindset
Counseling Can Help Determine Weight Loss Obstacles
Counseling Can Identify Positive Ways To Change Unhealthy Habits
Counseling Can Motivate You To Keep Going
Counseling Can Help Boost Your Self Esteem:
Many people that struggle with their weight also suffer from a low sense of self-worth. When self-worth is depleted, it’s unlikely that someone will have enough faith in themselves to make healthy choices when it comes to food.
Oftentimes, when dieting or exercise plans fail, self-confidence sinks even lower than before, perpetuating a harmful cycle.
Instead of focusing on external factors such as the newest diet program or the fanciest gym membership, counseling focuses on the internal side of things.
Many therapists have the skills and training to help people overcome deep-rooted emotional issues related to perfectionism, low self-image, shame, and self-criticism.
When we genuinely feel better about ourselves, we are more likely to make positive choices that take care of our body, rather than harm it.
Counseling Can Address The Toxic ‘Punishment Mindset’:
Have you ever taken a few more rolls at dinner than you had planned for, and made an off-handed comment about how “you’re going to work this all off at the gym tomorrow!”?
While you may not realize it in the moment, this can contribute to the idea that exercise and dieting are a form of punishment for not sticking to your weight loss plan.
This is a dangerous mindset to have, and often the punishment method does not work in the long run.
Instead of shame and blame, counseling offers another approach: self-understanding.
Skills and techniques used in therapy can help you learn to give yourself grace when you mess up and enables you to understand that mistakes are bound to happen.
In addition, counseling can educate you on the various ways exercise can positively affect your body, so eventually, you work out because you genuinely want to, not because you need to.
Counseling Can Help Determine Weight Loss Obstacles:
No matter how many times you’ve tried to stick to a weight loss plan, it never seems to work. If this sounds like you, there may be obstacles preventing you from achieving health and wellness.
By talking with a counselor, you’ll be able to learn what is consciously or unconsciously holding you back from losing weight. These obstacles may be blatantly obvious, but need exposure through talk therapy to be able to change.
A few weight loss obstacles your therapist can help you address may be:
Snacking late at night
Unhealthy food choices
Snacking in between meals
Emotional or stress eating
Eating healthy is financially difficult
Once your therapist can address these obstacles, you can work together to create a treatment plan aimed at tackling the behaviors that are setting you back.
Counseling Can Identify Positive Ways To Change Unhealthy Habits:
Identifying unhealthy habits such as poor nutritional choices can often be the easy part. It’s learning how to change them into healthier actions that can feel overwhelming or discouraging.
Some people may not know where to start, so they simply, don’t.
Therapists are specifically trained to understand the human mind and how it makes or breaks habits.
Through talking with a counselor, you can identify one unhealthy habit at a time and learn how to make small, realistic changes to your daily routine in order to meet your weight loss goals.
Not only will you begin to see progress in your weight loss, your confidence will increase each time you conquer an unhealthy habit and replace it with a new, positive one.
Counseling Can Motivate You To Keep Going:
One of the biggest obstacles to overcome when beginning a new workout or diet regimen is the willpower to keep going - even when you don’t want to. This can set many people back, or make them decide to quit altogether.
When you establish a relationship with your therapist, you will be able to talk, vent, or even cry about how you’re feeling. The best part of seeing a counselor is their willingness to always encourage you to keep going.
They can remind you of how far you’ve come, or support you in taking a ‘rest day’ by assuring you will get back at it tomorrow. You’re never alone in your weight loss journey with you have a therapist.
How A Healthy Mind Can Affect Weight Loss:
A huge reason many of us struggle to keep up with dieting or weight loss plans is due to habits we have developed over time. Humans are creatures of habit, and breaking out of old ones takes a great deal of effort, determination, and intention.
People tend to get comfortable in old patterns of thinking and doing, and this can overrule any positive habits we try to create. Think about a time when you went out to eat fully intending to stick to ordering a chicken salad, but wind up eating a loaded cheeseburger and french fries.
Weight loss often includes breaking more than one old habit at a time, proving just how necessary support and encouragement from a counselor can be.
Our brains are incredibly powerful and fully capable of changing. However, old habits don’t die easily, and this is where a counselor comes in.
When you work alongside a professional that is trained in understanding how people think, act, and behave, you already have a leg up against any intrusive thoughts that may try to distract you from what you really want.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Give Up:
Neuroplasticity is our brain's ability to change and make new connections.
When we repeat healthy habits, over time our brains become more comfortable and confident in these behaviors and they become much easier.
However, making new neural connections takes time and consistency.
Through the help of a therapist, you can identify any obstacles, reframe your mindset, establish new positive behaviors, and ultimately boost your self-confidence. All of these benefits of therapy help speed the neuronal process up and create a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthier living.