Weight Loss Counseling and Treatment
Losing weight fast and naturally is everyone with an overweight or obesity's dream. Diet pills and various types of diets that promise weight loss rapidly and effortlessly have spread worldwide. To lose weight fast is possible as long as you set reasonable goals at a time.
From how obesity works to practical tips, when it's time for help, and how mental training and counseling can shape a positive body image, 7 Cups has all the information to help you lose weight and maintain it.
Why Do People Strive to Lose Weight?
At the state of obesity or being overweight, people strive to lose weight for one or more reasons. The common reasons are health, aesthetic, social, or professional requirements.
Heart problems, diabetes, and osteoarthritis are examples of physical health-related reasons that require a person to lose weight. In contrast, aesthetic reasons arise from the desire to feel good and confident about oneself. Correspondingly, striving to feel accepted by the social circle is another reason people work for weight loss.
As for professional requirements, some occupations require a person to be slim, such as Flight Attendants and Modeling. Regardless of the reasons, they serve as a motivation to reach the weight loss goal
Obesity is when weight gain reaches the point that the risk of comorbid diseases increases. The cause of obesity is complex, but the bottom line is obesity happens when the input calorie is more than the output with over intake of certain types of foods over time.
Experts frequently depend on BMI to decide whether an individual is overweight. The BMI estimates your degree of muscle to a fat ratio based on your height and weight.
Types of obesity based on BMI are:
- Overweight (not obese), if BMI is 25.0 to 29.9
- Class 1 (low-risk) obesity, if BMI is 30.0 to 34.9
- Class 2 (moderate-risk) obesity, if BMI is 35.0 to 39.9
- Class 3 (high-risk) obesity, if BMI is equal to or greater than 40.0
While some factors that contribute to overeating which leads to rapid weight gain, that in time lead to obesity are:
- Perimenopause and menopause
- Slow metabolism
- Inactive or sedentary lifestyle.
- Psychological factors such as stress, depression, or anxiety
- Choices of diet.
What is more, is that the general view of food is not helping. For example, commonly, happiness is celebrated with food. People use food to ease sorrow, comfort broken hearts, and relieve stress. And not just any food, but high fat, sugar-rich foods. Remember the term comfort food? The brain releases neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine when you eat those types of foods. These brain chemicals, known as happy hormones, are associated with pleasurable sensation, hence the comfort food term.
However, a recent study shows that only 5% of the serotonin in the body works to improve mood, while the other 95% prevents the body from burning calories and sugar.
Additionally, in the case of dopamine, many studies proved that the habit of overeating high-fat, high-sugar, and carbohydrate-rich foods creates addiction. Further studies show a similarity of gradual deficiency in dopamine receptors in the brains of obese people and those with cocaine and alcohol addiction. As a result, the amount needed to feel good gradually increases.
Equally from biological views, when you overeat those types of foods, you trigger the activity of some particular microbial populations in your gut. As they are active, these populations grow and create cravings. Some symptoms of sugar addictions are dizziness, irritability, or trembling from the blood-sugar drop.
For instance, there is evidence of rapid growth of Enterobacteriaceae and Clostridium when fed sugar, resulting in poor digestive health.
Understanding obesity and its correlation to physical and mental health can build intrinsic motivation, a sense of purpose, and a strong internal drive for weight loss success.
How Weight Loss Affects Mental Health
Obesity causes mental health issues such as low self-esteem from constant self-loathing, guilt, and shame. Furthermore, it often develops into anxiety, stress, or depression.
Someone who binge-eats when sad or stressed can develop a habit of using food as a drug to feel better.
Nonetheless, obesity may also be the effect of mental health conditions. Solid evidence found a high correlation between appetite increases and psychotropic medications such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants.
While obesity poses a risk of mental health issues, a rapid and substantial weight loss can also negatively affect mental health. For one, losing weight may become an obsession that can develop into an eating disorder, or in another case, a fixation on weight loss can lead to anxiety. Thus safe weight loss management and the supervision of medical and mental health experts are recommended.
The Physical Symptoms
Besides counting the BMI, there are some of the common physical symptoms of obesity as warning signs, including:
- A tendency to sweat more
- Excessive body fat, especially around the waist
- Breathing difficulties
- Mild to severe fatigue
- Sleeping problems
- Back pain and joints
- Stretch marks
- Deposits of fat tissue in the breast area
Developing a Healthy Body Image
Your body image is how you think and feel when you look in the mirror or picture yourself in your mind. Generally, obesity creates a negative body image. But, some people have a healthy positive body image despite obesity. They feel comfortable with their look, which comes from acceptance.
Instead of insisting on seeing the image of who you wish to be, acceptance is when you stand in front of the mirror and see yourself as who you are. It is like walking with an awareness that you have extra weight yet have a strong self-belief that weight does not define who you are. This is a healthy positive body image.
What Can Help?
These are 7 tips and tricks to develop a healthy body image and lose weight effectively by changing habits and mindset:
Actions speak louder than words. Self-care is about taking time to make efforts for ourselves. To do something that makes us feel good afterwards. Regular self-care is a way to show yourself that you matter. You are worthy of love with the utmost care from yourself. As a result, the actions boost self-esteem that promotes healthy body image.
Discover what your strengths and weaknesses are, then work on improvements. It will help grow a positive self-belief that you are more than your pounds or kilograms.
Smile! It is free therapy because the act of pulling the corner of your mouth up triggers your brain to release dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins that work as a mood booster, antidepressant, and pain reliever. You have an easier time controlling cravings when you receive the reward sensation.
Good posture, whether sitting or standing, should preserve but not exaggerate natural curves. Naturally, your head should be higher than your shoulders. Maintaining good posture has several advantages, including a slimmer look, a more confident appearance, and improved digestion.
If possible, avoid being physically idle for long unless you are sleeping or in a situation that requires you to be still for hours. Smartwatches and many mobile applications have a reminder feature that will notify you when you have been physically idle for some time. It can be a simple thing like stretching or walking around after being idle for some time.
Being obese, commonly, people don't like to think, hear or talk about healthy or clean eating. Consciously or subconsciously, avoiding the topic because it feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable. On the other hand, it may feel comfortable and fun to think about what to eat next or talk about some delicious stuff. Rethink your friendship with food. Just like some friends tend to drag you down and some others are supportive to help you reach your dreams. Similarly like friends, we need them to balance our lives, yet that doesn’t mean we need them to be with us every hour of every day. Food is not an enemy, but it would make a lot of difference if you can prefer the ones that bring more good to your body and limit those that create poor digestion, slow metabolism, and increase the risk of comorbid diseases. It is contradictory when you want one thing, yet you keep telling your brain you prefer another thing. Therefore the next tip is to embrace the uncomfortable and surround yourself with healthy clean eating, so it feels more familiar and preferable for you. There is a Psychological phenomenon called Mere Exposure Effect, where people tend to develop a liking and preference for people or things that are more familiar, and repeated exposure builds familiarity.
A regular intermittent fasting habit helps reset the balance of microbiomes in your gut and lowers the raging craving for food. Seek advice from a nutritionist, a Medical Doctor, and a Psychotherapist before you do intermittent fasting.
Changing lifestyle, habits, and mindset is challenging. A lot of anxiety, frustration, and self-doubts may arise, emerge, and float in your mind thus adequate support helps to keep you going. Ditching the diets, staying positive about exercise, and ensuring quality sleep can also help.
Ditch the Diets
Crash diets are dangerous for both your physical and mental well-being. And hearing the word diet creates a mental image of a long list of pressuring restrictions. Instead of a diet, forming a new healthier habit, balanced lifestyle, and mindset about healthy eating step by step works wonders.
If you have a habit of eating sweets or high-fat food, it is because you have it or you have access to it. You want to lose weight, yet your table, fridge, or cupboard is full of food. Or you keep a hidden stash of sweets as a just-in-case situation. You still have access to it.
I asked a friend, who seems to have never gained weight for years, how she maintains it. She said she doesn't have a pile of high-fat and high-sugar foods at home. She has food just as much as she needs it for mealtimes. Besides that, fruits and prebiotic drinks are the available options. She limits access to certain foods to not create temptations yet she does not starve herself. She provides replacements.
Besides changing the habit of stacking certain foods, the microbiomes in your gut make a huge difference in your digestive system, mood, and affects your preference. Hence, “befriend” probiotic and prebiotic food more and only loving the fat and sugary foods from afar will help a lot.
One popular quote “I am learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things that aren't meant for me.” Metaphorically the sentence concludes it. We are not meant to consume high fat and high sugar foods in a large amount.
Furthermore, 24 hours fasting every now and then, or a window of hours with no eating and drinking gives your body a chance to reset the balance of the microbiome in your gut. By 12 hours of fasting, the food you eat has been burned and you give your digestive system a time to rest. This is the time your body starts the healing process and balances the blood sugar. After 24 hours of fasting, your body reaches the peak of fat burning.
However, if you have never fasted before or are in an obesity state, moreover with a comorbid disease, it is necessary to seek advice from experts prior to fasting.
Stay Positive About Exercise
Starting small with a light exercise is a good start. There are many types of exercise, sitting, lying down, standing, indoor, or outdoor. It is about physical movement that burns calories and triggers the brain to release endorphins and increase blood sugar. All of that helps lower the cravings.
However, it is not easy to start the habit. When you think of exercise as hard work, it can feel like a burden. Instead, emphasize movement over strenuous exercise. Start small, do what you enjoy, and what gets you moving.
Despite being aware of the consequences, many people reward themselves with a feast of storm eating after an exercise session. Reset the mindset and attitudes. Think of the rush of good feeling after exercise or how tensions melt away. Exercising is a form of self-care. In that fashion, it is a reward itself. Fitness is the bonus that is followed by weight loss when combined with a healthy eating habit.
Another tip is to watch out for the black and white thinking pattern. If you can’t go out for a walk due to the weather that day, you can still turn on the music and dance inside the comfort of your home. If you don’t have time to exercise, you can add a stretching break between activities or skip the elevator and choose the stairs. Chair yoga, chair dance, wall push-up, the options are endless. The point is to add movement to your days, one step at a time.
Get Quality Sleep
Matthew P. Walker, a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, stressed the importance of sleep in his book, Why We Sleep. Based on a study, the prefrontal cortex, part of the front part of the brain responsible for controlling emotions, takes a nosedive on sleep deprivation. In other words, when that part does not function well, your responses become more negative, or you can become more moody.
A more intriguing part is when the prefrontal cortex does not function well, it makes your brain seek more reward and pleasure sensation. And eating gives it to the brain.
In another study, researchers showed that sleep deprivation led to a substantial increase in eating high-calorie foods compared to sleep rest. Hence, sleep is essential for weight loss and maintaining healthy eating habits.
Nonetheless, many people struggle to doze off even when they are longing to have a good sleep. One tip Walker gave is to get up and do something outside the bedroom. Go back to bed when you feel sleepy. This way you teach your body and brain to associate bed and bedroom with sleep. Another tip is from a Psychology student which went viral on Tik Tok a while ago. Her Professor gave the tip that helped manage her insomnia. The idea is to simply say whatever comes to mind. Please make sure that your thoughts are not connected. "The more random the better," she added. Some of the examples she gave were: potatoes, Tarzan, and a violin. Some of the audience tried and found it helpful, while others did not - the idea is to explore what works for you!
When to Seek Advice and Try Therapy
There are many types of diets, yet we hear a lot that nothing works. When you find it difficult after trying so hard, give therapy a chance to work. Just like other addictions, an obsession with high fat and high sugar food is challenging to overcome. A Psychotherapy Counsellor can help you understand yourself better and be well aware of your situation.
Psychotherapists ask questions to find the repetitive patterns, triggers, vicious circles, behavioral responses to internal and external conflict, which you may not realize, or maybe a trauma buried in your subconscious mind. To discover the things that prevent you from controlling the cravings, things that push you to seek comfort from eating.
Psychotherapy becomes necessary and highly encouraged in the losing weight process when the weight loss affects mental health. At 7 Cups, licensed experts can help support you during your weight loss journey while also ensuring your mental well-being.
Following the initial counseling sessions, the Psychotherapist will discuss the possible options for you, advise and guide you to reframe your thoughts to more supportive patterns to develop a healthy body image and mindset. With structured treatment, eventually, you build a new healthy eating habit and lifestyle that promotes weight loss with ease and long-lasting.