Losing weight, keeping it off is in the mind

February 2, 2009 2:55:05 PM PST
If you made a New Year's resolution - to lose weight and get in shape, you might be hitting a tough spot right now. Most resolutions are history by Super Bowl weekend.

But a local psychologist has some tips to get your good intentions back on track.

Brian Keenaghan, of Overbrook, remembers his own weight situation, "It was becoming a severe health problem."

In 2007, Brian tipped the scale at 250 pounds.

But he didn't want to be that way for his upcoming wedding -

"If I was going to live a long & happy life, and be a good role model fro my future children, it was something that I knew had to be changed," says Brian.

He started eating better, and exercising, but hit a common problem.

Brian says, "I enjoy my friends, but when I was around them, I tended to eat more and drink more."

Then Brian met Dr. Judith Beck, a psychologist who's written several books on the mental hurdles to weight loss. Her latest is the "Complete Beck Diet for Life."

She's heard ALL the excuses for bad eating habits.

Dr. Beck says, "Because I'm happy, i'm sad, i'm tired, i'm stressed, the food is free, I really want it....everyone else is eating it."

Dr. Beck says anyone can START a diet, but you need tools to keep it going. "If you want to continue losing weight, and keep it off, then you have to learn exactly what to do in the difficult times."

"Have a list of all of the reasons you want to lose weight. And read it often," says Dr. Beck.

She also recommends a distraction box - things to distract your mind when you have an urge to eat, but shouldn't. A book, CDs, crafts, or crossword puzzles...

And she says you may need to do several of them till a craving passes.

She also recommends "response cards." Those are messages to change your negative attitudes into positive ones.

Dr. Beck reads one, "I know I will feel really bad if I give in, But I will feel very good if I resist."

Brian put those messages on his cell phone.

He read one to us, "5 minutes of exercise is better than no exercise."

He used those for mornings he just didn't feel like going to the gym. "Once you get there, or out on the street, and do 5 minutes of exercise, you feel much better, and you don't want to give up."

By the time of his wedding, Brian was 50 pounds lighter.

He's since lost another 10 pounds, and met his goal of running a marathon.

Brian says Dr. Beck's plan really worked for him. "It's an excellent motivator."

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