What’s Wrong with the Game of Weight Loss?

By Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT, Author of Behavioral Strategies for Weight Loss

Behavioral Strategies for Weight LossWeight loss is a game we keep playing the same way – even when we are not winning. We continue to diet, purchase gym memberships, go on crash diets, and buy weight loss supplements. In fact, the weight loss industry has outgrown inflation rates, all the while remaining unaffected by economic downturns. By all accounts, weight loss matters to us – an awful lot. Yet what we fail to consider is that when it comes to weight loss, there is a lot more that we don’t know than we do. For example, while we may know that eating fewer donuts will help us lose weight, we fail to consider that thinking about eating fewer donuts now is not the same as actually turning down the donut your co-worker offers you next Friday. Just what influences those decisions and why we may not always make the choices we intend to make – even when we know they are good for us – is what this course is all about.

Limited Resources, Fading Benefits, and Tempting Options

The number one resolution of 2015 was to lose weight. Yet losing weight, for most of us, is like playing the lottery – the odds are not very good. In fact, it’s estimated that only 8 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them.

It’s not so much that we can’t lose weight; it’s that, like keeping a resolution, we can’t keep it off. For this reason, the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) determines the difference between weight that is lost unsuccessfully – meaning it is lost and regained – and that which is lost successfully as a three year deal. If we can keep at least thirty pounds off for three years, we can consider ourselves successful.

If not, we have some interest to pay. Studies show that the majority of dieters will actually gain back more than they originally lost. Yet for those who work with dieters this isn’t surprising. The problem, as Diane Robinson, PhD, a neuropsychologist and Program Director of Integrative Medicine at Orlando Health, notes is that, “Most people focus almost entirely on the physical aspects of weight loss, like diet and exercise. But there is an emotional component to food that the vast majority of people simply overlook and it can quickly sabotage their efforts.”

What we ignore is that while weight loss is regulated by what we eat – those choices are regulated by something much larger, and more powerful. For example, consider the emotional attachment we have to certain foods. From the time we are young, we are conditioned to have preferences for certain foods, and food marketing to children has dramatically increased in recent years. In response to this dramatic increase, in 2008 Congress called for a Federal Trade Commission review of marketing food to children and adolescents. In that report, experts found not only that the total of dollars spent on food marketing to children 0-12 and adolescents was well over the previous figure of 1.6 billion, but that more than half of all television advertising dollars were directed toward children. Ranking second only to television advertising was money spent on toys included in kids’ foods (which also includes restaurant foods) – which came in at a whopping $427 million. And even more surprising, if you add the dollars restaurants spend on child directed marketing to the toys they include with the child’s meals, that figure jumps to $520 million – more than twice the amount of child directed marketing in any other category. As Robinson explains, “If we’re aware of it or not, we are conditioned to use food not only for nourishment, but also for comfort. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, as long as we acknowledge it and deal with it appropriately.”

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Behavioral Strategies for Weight LossBehavioral Strategies for Weight Loss is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that exposes the many thought errors that confound the problem of weight loss and demonstrates how when we use behavioral strategies – known as commitment devices – we change the game of weight loss. While obesity is arguable the largest health problem our nation faces today, it is not a problem that is exclusive to those who suffer weight gain. For therapists and counselors who work with those who wish to lose weight, there is ample information about diet and exercise; however, one very large problem remains. How do therapists get their clients to use this information? Packed with exercises therapists can use with their clients to increase self-control, resist impulses, improve decision making and harness accountability, this course will not just provide therapists with the tools they need to help their clients change the way they think about weight loss, but ultimately, the outcome they arrive at. Course #21-13 | 2016 | 31 pages | 15 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).