At the start of every year, millions of people around the world decide to change something about their lives. Weight-loss is usually included. One 2017 study categorized the types of resolutions made by those it surveyed. It found that most people prioritized changes to their physical health, followed by self-improvement and mental health.

Common weight-loss resolutions include:

  • Eat healthier
  • Get more exercise and build muscle
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Devote more effort to self-care

However, most of us are aware that New Year’s resolutions tend to crumble not too long after people make them. In fact, studies show that most people fall off the wagon within the first three months.

Does this data point to a lack of willpower or focus among goal-setters? Actually, it speaks to the deeper science of behavior change. Many other things beyond willpower affect our ability to stick to goals and change our behavior for the long-term.

Tough Obstacles Get in the Way

Despite good intentions, any change to our normal routine can unravel attempts at weight-loss:

  • Death or illness of a loved one
  • Financial hardship or setbacks
  • Challenges with work or home life
  • Vacation and travel
  • Personal illness or injury
  • Periods of stress, depression or anxiety

These events are not to be taken lightly. They are very real obstacles that challenge a lot of factors related to weight-loss and weight management:

  • Appetite
  • Sleep
  • Metabolism
  • Energy
  • Physical activity
  • Hormones
  • Mental health

Acceptance-based Therapy: A Different, Refreshing Approach to Lasting Behavior Change

Perhaps a better approach to lasting behavior change is the idea of acceptance-based therapy. Jason Lillis, PhD, is an OAC Member who works passionately to help patients with obesity. He says the traditional approach to weight-loss doesn’t work. He Instead, he recommends that patients think about their personal values, break the negative thought cycle and learn body appreciation.

About Acceptance-based Therapy 

Acceptance-based therapy connects healthy behaviors with personal values. Here are some examples:

  • Exercising to gain more energy and spend active time with your family
  • Eating healthier to help with a chronic health condition
  • Going to sleep earlier so you are more focused at work the next day

This alternative approach to weight control believes that returning to your values during tough times can help you make lifestyle changes instead of quick fixes. The result is that you are more likely to stick to healthy habits as time passes. Acceptance-based therapy also includes the following principles:

  • Slowing the brain to let difficult emotions run their course
  • Learning to appreciate different parts and functions of the body
  • Knowing why you want to change and what you feel is important
  • Addressing negative feelings and behavior influences

To learn more about acceptance-based therapy, CLICK HERE.

Take-home Tips:

There is always room to improve your quality of life. If you enjoy setting resolutions, go for it. Or, just aim to set some S.M.A.R.T. goals. Just keep these ideas in mind as you make a plan to reach them:

  • Determine why your goals are important to you
  • Be mindful of factors that might get in the way
  • Give yourself the readiness and skills to change
  • Work on cognitive and emotion-enhancing strategies
  • Break your goals into smaller long-term and short-term goals
  • Work at controlling your environment
  • Seek accountability from those you trust, such as a psychologist or primary care physician

Speaking of that last bullet, the OAC Community Discussion Forum is a great source accountability. There you can talk to other OAC Members about your goals, challenges, frustrations, success and more. To visit the Discussion Forum today, CLICK HERE.