Weight issues and weight management
It is not uncommon to hear someone complain about their body or weight. Western culture is entrenched with problematic ideas of body perfection. Most people will experience dissatisfaction with their weight at some point in their life. Often, this means losing weight. Research found that only 22% of women within a normal healthy weight range reported being happy with their weight and 74% desired to weigh less. In Australians aged 11-24, 28% of males and 35% of females are dissatisfied with their appearance.
Particularly in the Western world, images communicated through mass media are unrealistic, airbrushed and altered to achieve a culturally perceived image of ‘perfection’ that does not actually exist. This image of ‘perfection’ is equated with thinness for females and a lean, muscular body for males. People who internalise this ‘thin ideal’ have a greater risk of developing body dissatisfaction which can lead to eating disorder behaviours. Weight problems are often frustrating as they can be difficult to change and hurtful for our self-esteem. However, with the right support, anyone can get to a healthy body weight.
Psychology and weight problems
Successful weight management is about more than diet and exercise. Whether you’re trying to put on weight or lose it, your mindset is crucial to successful weight management. People try special diets and exercise routines every day in the hope of losing weight. But psychological factors that impact long-term weight management and positive body image are often overlooked. We can be very harsh on ourselves, judging our appearances against incomparable standards, viewing ourselves only in terms of how we appear instead of our value as a person.
Weight loss involves change, motivation and commitment. It can mean a significant shift in lifestyle and a need to maintain that shift over time. Stress, depression and anxiety are all factors that can hinder success. Counselling can help you understand the issues that may be contributing to your weight management difficulties.
What contributes to weight problems?
Factors that can contribute to weight problems:
- Development determinants
- Genetic makeup
- Physical activity
- Low socioeconomic status
- Smoking and alcohol consumption
- Access to food
- History of eating disorders
- Coping strategies
Strategies to help manage weight
- Brainstorm the reasons behind why you want or need to change your weight
- Research appealing and balanced meals that you can incorporate into your diet
- Slowly begin incorporating daily exercise into your routine starting with a short walk each day
Seeking professional assistance
At their heart, most weight problems are the result of coping strategies for emotional problems. People overeat when they’re anxious or sad and avoid exercise because they’re ashamed or stressed. Contrastingly, they might limit their food intake and over exercise to feel a sense of control. A psychologist can offer emotional support throughout your weight management journey. This support allows you to identify specific challenges that make it difficult for you to manage your weight. Therapy begins treating the problem from the inside out.
Seeing a psychologist is a confidential, non-judgemental and encouraging process. Therapy encourages you to look at your own behaviour, and to then find new ways to deal with old problems. This allows you to take responsibility without fear of judgment. Your therapist may also educate you about a healthy lifestyle and develop a clear plan for getting from where you are to where you want to be. Find the right psychologist for you at Psychology Melbourne here.