By: Kim DeMattia
Trying to lose weight can feel like an uphill battle, especially when diet culture perpetuates the idea that all we have to do is “eat less and move more.” Scrolling through an Instagram feed filled with wellness bloggers & fitness influencers, with “perfect” bodies wearing stylish athleisure can make anyone feel like they should be able to do this if they just work hard enough. However, that isn’t the case.
Weight management expert Dr. Judy Shiau explains, “There are over 300 factors that impact our weight, and diet and exercise are just two of those.” Although diet & exercise are essential parts of a healthy lifestyle, they are not the only things to consider when trying to reach a healthier weight. Dr. Shiau suggests that anyone on a weight loss journey can use the “Four C’s” for long-term, sustainable success.
The first C is compassion – meaning compassion for yourself. How do you speak to yourself? Is it with kindness? Weight management expert Dr. Michael Lyon says that one of the keys for long-term success is to “treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend.” In addition, Dr. Shiau says, “Instead of asking yourself what’s the matter with me? Ask yourself what matters to me?” Find the personal reasons why you are making this commitment to yourself to reach a healthier weight. Losing weight isn’t easy and the reasons why you want to lose weight need to be really important to you, especially on days where making the healthy choice feels especially difficult.
The second C is change, and that is why understanding your personal motivations for weight loss is important. It will help make the needed change a little easier to enact. Focusing on the specific behavioral changes you will need to make to lose weight and incorporating them into your life is critical. Dr. Shiau cautions that whatever change you intend to make, be sure it’s realistic! She says, “Pick something where you’re confident you’ll actually be able to do and focus it back to what matters to you.” Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unattainable goals that will leave you feeling defeated rather than inspired. For example, if you want to walk more, don’t set a goal of five miles a day; instead choose a goal for 5 miles a week. Once you meet your goal, then you can make a new one of 10 miles a week, and build on your success.
The third C is commit. Make a commitment to yourself to continue on this weight loss journey even on the hard days. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for weight loss. Dr. Shiau says, “It’s important to try new things, and maybe after [some] time, it’s not quite working. That’s okay – go back to the first C and have a bit of compassion for yourself.” Changing your plan doesn’t negate all your hard work. It affirms your commitment to yourself by adapting when you’ve hit a block.
The final C is connect. Recognize you’re not alone and that there are others scrolling through Instagram in frustration as well. Reach out to other people who are focusing on health and build a team of folks who can support you in reaching your goals. We’re more likely to succeed when working together… if possible, ask a neighbor, friend, or relative to join you. Other options for support include online communities (click here to join our Facebook support group) filled with people encouraging one another through the inevitable ups and downs.
Connecting can also mean reaching out for support from a healthcare professional. For many people struggling with excess weight, diet and exercise alone won’t be enough to reach a healthier weight – medical treatment will be required. That’s why Dr. Shiau encourages finding a healthcare team who can support you. Your team might include a dietitian, a doctor, a psychologist, and/or an exercise physiologist. A healthcare team can help you create an individualized plan for long-term success. Find a doctor near you here.
Your weight is not your fault, and you don’t have to do this on your own. Use the 4C’s for sustainable success, and remember: today’s diet culture is simply WRONG. Weight management is not a “do it yourself project.” Have compassion for yourself and commit to change. You can do it!
Seeing a physician who specializes in weight management can help you get more information about the treatments available for reaching a healthier weight… to find a physician near you who specializes in weight management, click here.
To sign up for our free online class on how to reach a healthier weight, click here.
If you’d like to listen to Dr. Shiau talk about the 4C’s, you can watch her here.