Fitness & Nutrition

When Diet and Exercise Aren't Enough

Diet and exercise. These are the favorite solutions for losing weight. They are shouted from the hilltops, whispered secretly among the rank and file, noted in almost every article written to help the overweight and the obese, even by the pros. Yet on any given day, 45 percent of women in the U.S. are trying to lose weight, and 80 percent of people who lose weight can't keep the lost weight from returning.

Wellness programs will need to take themselves out of the diet and exercise rut if they want to help people lose weight and keep the lost weight off permanently. Lifestyle changes can't only amount to diet and exercise, because diet and exercise alone just isn't cutting it for the majority of overweight people who:

  • Can't get started
  • Can't stick to it.
  • Can't keep it off.
  • Can't solve their weight loss problems.

These are the four biggies when it comes to weight loss: getting started, sticking to it, keeping it off, and solving the problems preventing you from losing weight.

Diet and exercise just won't do it for people who "can't" do one or more of these four things. This does not mean that you simply throw diet and exercise away. Not by a long shot. But don't expect to lose weight by diet and exercise alone. There has to be something else added to the standard equation, weight loss = diet + exercise.

If you hone in on the all-important "I can't," you will see the need for a more personal approach,  by first identifying "why you can't" and ending up with "how you can." One size doesn't fit all here. It has to be a personal approach. "What's your problem getting started?" "Why can't you stick to it?" "What makes it so hard for you to keep the lost weight off?" And "what more fitting problem-solving solutions should you use?"

The personal approach to weight loss calls for a better understanding of your own psychology. Yes, your psychology: what gets in the way of you succeeding at the four biggies of weight loss?

One way to know your own weight loss psychology is to do the traditional pros and cons analysis, but do it with a twist. Don't do pros for losing weight and cons for not losing weight, which is the traditional version. The twist is to do pros for not losing weight and cons for losing weight, and this should tell you what you are personally up against when you can't lose weight.

Once you clearly identify what goes wrong when you try to diet or stick to a weight loss plan, you can then be more specific about how to correct it. The plan you come up with will be tailored to you and what you need to be successful at losing weight.

Keep in mind that the expanded formula for successful weight loss will now be: weight loss = (diet + exercise) x your psychology. It's time to lick the four biggies and be finished once and for all with your weight loss woes.

About the Author

Kenneth Schwarz, Ph.D. was formerly Director of Psychology at Dutchess Medical Practice in Dutchess County, New York. He is currently a psychologist in clinical practice in Connecticut USA and co-author of the Symmetry Press series, Weight Loss Books for Women-Using Psychology to Lose Weight. The newest book in the series is How to Break the Seven Rules of Women Who Stay Fat.

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