8 Things Research Revealed About Weight Loss & Lifelong Health

I recently ran an eight-week group for five families. The children ranged from 10 to 21 years of age. Parents and their children met in two separate groups where they had the opportunity to explore a variety of challenges around healthful eating and lifelong health. Some topics we explored were: our values around health, how to conduct a personal self-assessment, what triggers us, the power of what I call the 4P’s (Predict, Plan, Put Into Action and Practice), communication, physical fitness, etc. At the end of each session I did a guided meditation to help integrate and reinforce the knowledge and skills that were conveyed.

For three group sessions we met as one large group. During the first collaborative session, we met with a nutritionist and discussed food labels, portion sizes, healthy food selections and much more. During the second, we explored communication in depth and its impact on each family’s relationship. In the third session we navigated through the slip and fall cycle and reinforced how to maintain healthy behaviors and habits at home. 

Each family dedicated their time to read chapters in my book “Free Your Child From Overeating” 53 Mind-Body Strategies For Lifelong Health and to attend the group weekly. Their commitment never relented even though at times they most definitely expressed fear, frustration, and exasperation over the process. They spoke openly about their challenges and candidly about what tripped them up, what rationalizations they found themselves making and how their minds often led them to self-defeating, self-deprecating thoughts, nearly thwarting their continued success.

As a result of meeting with the parents and their children there was substantial weight loss experienced by a majority of family members, an acquisition of skills to help them through their challenges and a collaboration and closeness among them which helped provide ongoing support, care and nurturance within their households.

At the closing interviews, what family members reported being most helpful was:

  • The support they received from each other because of sharing and relating to each other’s challenges;

  • Having concrete strategies and tools that they have access to and can utilize at any time;

  •  The relationships among family members vastly improving because of learning to better relate and communicate with one another, and

  •  Feeling empowered because of tapping into the realization that building their self-confidence is an inside job and directly attached to the way in which they view themselves and how they personally treat themselves.

What it revealed was that in order to maintain lifelong health:

  1. We have to recognize that this is an integrated process, because of this, the psychological and sociological barriers also need to be considered and effectively be worked through;

  2.  It is critical to identify what value is meaningful to each of us around our health and to understand why;

  3.  Every person needs to assess and personally know and face their personal challenges around healthful behaviors;

  4.  We need to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It is the only way to work through urges, cravings, and other food related challenges;

  5.  At any age, having ongoing support is vital to the process. What makes it so extremely difficult for kids, is that there is an absence of resources and developmentally appropriate supports. This needs to be expanded;

  6.  It is essential to have a set of strategies and tools to access and utilize when there’s a need for reinforcement and support;

  7. It is more highly effective if it is carried out as a family-based approach. Family members need to learn to communicate, participate and support one another through the process, and

  8. There is a need to sharpen cognition, enhance problem-solving and integrate mindfulness to allow for more mindful, intentional and thoughtful actions taken on behalf of our health.  

The families expressed sadness about the groups coming to an end because of the enduring isolation they so often feel and experience. One 16-year-old girl expressed, “I know I’ll be just fine. I have a solid set of skills and I know I can talk to my mother and she’ll listen, not judge me, get frustrated with me or police me. Things are so much better because we spend the time improving ourselves together.”

At our last group, I gave each of the family members inspirational bookmarks I created out of a quote I wrote, “You could accomplish anything you want to if you equip yourself with willingness, a commitment to being uncomfortable and prolonged practice.” These families learned those lessons and many other valuable ones. There isn’t anything more powerful than seeing people’s life positively transformed. I am so grateful that I was part of the process. I respect and honor each and every one of them for their bravery, effort and desire to be their best selves.

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