Behavioral modification might be the last frontier when it comes to weight loss. If you’ve lost and regained weight over and over, you know that it’s more than just about diet. Unless you change the way you see and think about food, chances are the weight will creep back on.
What Is Behavioral Modification?
Behavioral modification is a technique used by Cognitive Therapy and Behavior Therapy to change the way you react to certain situations. Rather than trying to analyze the reason something is happening, this type of therapy focus on changing the outcome. The goal of behavior modification is to change habits.
Changing habits is done the same way that you acquire your current habits: You repeat them over and over until they become part of your life. At some point, they will be so normal that you won’t have to think about them. For example, let’s say you snack in front of the TV every evening after work. This has resulted in you gaining weight. Instead of telling yourself you shouldn’t do it anymore, start a new habit to replace the bad one. You could, for example, drink a cup of unsweetened cocoa every evening. Or, you can use TV time to do crunches.
Besides changing the habits themselves, you also need to change the behavior that leads to those habits. For example, if you know being stressed makes you overeat, the first step to weight loss is identifying what triggers a stress response. Is it problems with your spouse? Money issues? Deadlines at work? Think of ways you can lower your stress level so the trigger never shows. Or find ways to dealing with it once you notice it. Instead of grabbing a bag of chips to deal with your sadness, go for a walk or get yourself a pedicure.
Changing behaviors is not easy task. If you’ve been doing the same thing over and over for years, it won’t be easy to suddenly start doing something else. That’s why replacing habits is easier than giving something up. Let’s say you’re used to eating a large bag of popcorn at the movies. Telling yourself you won’t eat anything anymore might work a few times, but you’ll eventually get tired of watching the movie empty handed and end up giving in and getting the popcorn again.
Instead of trying to rely on will to get you through, start a new habit to replace the old one. Buy a smaller bag of popcorn and use less butter or none at all. After all, if you were strong enough to resist the temptation, you would’ve lost the weight a long time ago. Don’t think of yourself as weak for lacking the will to resist temptation on your own. Instead, think of it as making it easier on yourself by finding an alternative behavior that leaves you feeling satisfied, but is healthier and waist-friendly.