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The Psychology of Weight Loss

The Psychology of Weight Loss

You already know that to lose weight, you must exercise more and make changes in your eating habits. But many experts agree that there is another big factor in dropping pounds and keeping them off – psychology.

"Recognizing and modifying the way you think and feel about food can help you make lasting changes," said Mary Kate Hanisee, MD, FACS, FASMBS, metabolic and bariatric surgery director at Archbold's South Georgia Surgical Associates. "A recent study found that people who used psychological coping methods were able to keep extra weight off and stay at a healthier weight than people who did not."

Minding What You Eat

Psychologists recommend several strategies for changing your attitude toward eating and sticking to healthy habits:

  • Keep a journal. Write down everything you eat, along with what you were doing at the time, any emotions you were experiencing and information about where and when you ate.
  • Track your daily activity. This includes everything from workouts to how much you got up and moved during the day.
  • Eat mindfully. Eat slowly and only when you are hungry.
  • Focus on your emotions. Are you eating because you are hungry or because you are anxious, sad or bored?
  • Break unhealthy associations. For example, if you are used to eating while watching TV whether you are hungry or not, make a new rule that you must sit at a table with the TV on mute.

Make Your Work Day Move

If you’re working from home, you might have found that you’re getting a lot less exercise than you did when you were leaving the house. Try these tips to get moving during the day:

  • Walk around during informal meetings or phone calls. Try a voice memo app on your phone for note-taking.
  • Keep your muscles strong by using small hand weights while sitting at your desk.
  • When it’s time for a break, get up and go to a different area of the house to stretch, instead of staying in place.
  • Enlist a virtual workout buddy, and send each other reminders to get up and move.

Your primary care provider can help you design a weight loss plan tailored to your unique needs and lifestyle. Find a provider at