Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on changing your thoughts and actions so that you can lose weight (1). The following CBT strategies can help you not only shed excess pounds but also keep them off permanently.
Studies have shown that persons who monitor their eating and exercising lose more weight than those who do not.
Therefore buy a note book and jot down all the food you eat each day and the number of calories each food item contains. You can also record other factors that can affect your eating like the time of the day, the location, your mood and the people you were with.
In addition, you should also monitor your physical activity by writing down the minutes you spent doing each specific exercise and the number of calories you burned. You can also keep track of the time, location, your mood and company.
Keeping these eating and exercising records consistently will help you note any patterns that make you overeat and under-exercise. For example you might notice that you tend to binge on ice cream when you are upset by family arguments or that you skip the gym when you are stressed by work.
Identifying the emotions and events that trigger overeating and under-exercising will therefore help you find better ways of responding to them so that you can achieve your weight loss goals.
Stimulus control is another CBT strategy that has also been shown to help persons lose weight.
Stimulus control involves making changes that promote healthy eating and regular exercise.
These changes might include filling your pantry with fruits to increase their consumption and taking your dog for a walk after dinner instead of watching TV.
Stimulus control also involves making changes that discourage unhealthy eating and not exercising.
For example you can decide not to keep cookies and candy bars in your home to reduce their unplanned eating.
You can also choose not to use the elevator in your office building so that you can burn more calories climbing the stairs.
Incentives have been scientifically proven to change behaviors. They do this by keeping you motivated and reinforcing the behaviors that help you attain your goal. Therefore identify the reward you will give yourself for achieving your weight loss goal.
When choosing your reward ensure that it is something you like. For example if you like dressing up you can decide to buy yourself a designer outfit every time you lose 20 pounds. Though it has to be something that you look forward to receiving, your reward does not have to be expensive since you can decide to buy a new workout music CD each month you exercise consistently.
Your reward should also be in line with your weight loss goals. For example a 5 day vacation in a weight loss destination spa is an appropriate reward for losing 50 pounds. However, it does not have to involve money since you can reward yourself with acts of self-kindness like sleeping in on Sundays when you have worked out thrice that week.
Hanging a chart with all your weight loss rewards clearly outlined can also keep you motivated until you lose a large amount of weight. For example if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, this chart should show what you will give yourself for losing 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 pounds.
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