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Weight and Obesity Brain and Mental Performance

Slim Down with 'Mindfulness' Approach

7 months, 1 week ago

1311  0
Posted on Apr 10, 2017, 6 a.m.

People who received the therapy based on "mindful" decision-making lost more than 13 percent of their initial weight, on average, over one year.

The mind possesses more power than most people realize. In order for a weight loss therapy program to succeed, it must focus on personal values and a decision-making process. People who aim to lose weight should make weight loss a top priority. When a person’s mind is truly set on accomplishing a goal such as losing weight, the results are positive; at least this is what a new clinical study suggests.

Behavioral therapies have historically helped people to lose approximately 5% to 8% of their starting weight, in most cases. Those who received therapy based on mindfulness lost more than 13 percent of their starting weight, on average. Researchers refer to this concept as ABT or acceptance-based behavioral therapy. Researchers suggest that the biggest challenges people face are avoiding temptation, and keeping off the extra weight.

Drexel University’s Professor of Psychology, Evan Forman states that “The standard advice on weight loss only works if people are able to stick with it.” The truth is simple, people are driven to eat biologically. Foods are not only tempting, but they provide some type of comfort and reward, and it tastes good. At one point in time, food was scarce, which was apparently an asset. Now that food is so readily available in a variety of settings, it is a huge problem. The temptation to eat heavy foods, high in calories is creating obese conditions, which leads to major health problems. It is difficult for people to turn down good tasting foods, no matter how much they try to resist. It takes strong discipline and a sincere desire to stay away from fattening foods. However, Forman believes that these skills can be learned, and ABT goal is the help people learn these skills.

The new clinical trial puts the theory to the test by comparing theory with standard behavioral therapy, which mainly focuses on increasing exercise and reducing calories. Forman’s study group recruited more than 190 obese and overweight individuals, and placed them in assigned groups of either standard or ABT therapy. Each study group participated in 25 group sessions annually, which included meeting with experts in the area of weight loss. Each group received help with problem-solving, weight loss management, food cravings, eating habits and exercise. However, ABT added some components to the study. The study allowed individuals to choose personal values based on goals, rather than aiming to lower the number on the bathroom scale.

This concept allows people to get a feel of what is truly important in their lives, and how weight affects their goals. The decision-making process to succeed or to choose begins in the mind. Whether a person feels bad about opting for a slice of apple pie, and not a sugar free brownie, has to do with cravings. People are likely to say that is simply how their brain works. This is why it is important to help people focus on their behavior. They cannot change their cravings, but they can change the way they view food. It makes the transitional thinking successful. People can practice throwing brownies and other unhealthy foods in the trash, and eating something healthy instead.

Many factors influence our decision to eat, and the type of foods we do eat. From watching television to being bored out of our minds, there is a myriad of prompts. Losing weight is not only about willpower, according to Dr. Steven Heymsfield, it is about controlling the strong, overwhelming impulses to eat. According to Forman, individuals can get help through mobile apps or booster sessions.

The October issue of the journal Obesity.

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