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The Psychological Side of Weight Loss
Weight is much more than a number on a scale. There is a psychological side to weight loss that may be overlooked.
For many, weight plays a major role in their self-esteem and body image and can impact overall wellness and mental health. People who are overweight may identify themselves as fat or obese. It’s important to understand that it is a medical condition and not who we are. As people lose weight, their self-esteem and body image often improve.
Also, it’s important to consider that the reason for being overweight could lie in a psychological cause, such as emotional eating, depression, or food addiction. These conditions can often improve with help from a mental health professional.
To lose weight, it often means people need to change their way of thinking about weight and food. It’s vital to think of food as fuel for the body. It also often means adjusting to a new lifestyle that involves less focus on food and more on wellness.
The Benefits of Support Groups
No matter how someone loses weight, there are many psychological changes that take place with weight loss. Whether your weight loss journey is through bariatric surgery, a medically-supervised plan, or healthy eating and exercise, support groups can be extremely beneficial. There are many different organizations that offer support groups. Some are for the individual only. Others may include the individual and family members and friends. Some support groups are led by a mental health professional while others are led by peers.
Support groups are a way for people to share their stories, experiences, and lives in a way that helps educate and motivate. It can also help reduce feelings of isolation, loneliness and even biases. People trying to lose weight may often feel like they are struggling or on a life journey alone. Support groups can connect you with others experiencing similar situations, and help you overcome your obstacles and feel better emotionally.
The Right Group
Finding the right support group is key. Some groups will focus on a specific topic. Take some time and do some research to find the right one for you and your current situation. For example, have you reached your weight loss goal and are now trying to maintain that weight? A weight maintenance group like our Masters Program may be of more help to you than one for those just starting to lose weight. Other groups may focus on the type of weight loss, such as a bariatric surgery group, as they will have very different experiences than someone who has not been through surgery. You may even find online support groups and online communities. These can be especially helpful if there are no groups in your area.
Do not be discouraged if the first support group you try doesn't feel quite right. You should feel comfortable in your group, so trying different ones may help you determine the best fit for you.
- If you’ve had bariatric surgery, our Center for Bariatric Surgery also offers a variety of support groups for those who have lost weight through surgical means.
- Our Center for Weight and Wellness offers a number of support groups that may be right for you.
- The National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Group Clearinghouse maintains a Directory of Consumer-Driven Services. This includes peer-run organizations throughout the United States that offer a variety of supportive services and activities.
Congratulations on making the decision to lose weight and improve your health. If you would like help on your journey, please visit our website to learn more about the options available through Lifespan's Weight Loss Services.
Kellie Armstrong, MS, RN, CBN
Kellie Armstrong is the manager for the Center for Bariatric Surgery at The Miriam Hospital. She was the state of Rhode Island’s first certified bariatric nurse, and is also a success story for bariatric surgery. After having surgery, Kellie lost over 100 pounds, lives a healthy lifestyle and now participates in triathlons, marathons, and other healthy events.