Weight Loss Tips

Featured Tip of the Month:
Managing Your Time

Lack of time is a major cause of stress for many people. It is also the main reason people give for not eating healthfully and for failing to follow an active lifestyle. But, are you truly overbooked, or are you just disorganized or easily distracted?

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Those who manage to follow a healthy lifestyle despite a busy schedule have mastered the art of time management. You can learn the skills needed to take control of your schedule too.

If you are trying to manage your time better, here are some general rules:

  • Take personal responsibility for how you spend your time
  • Be consistent – Match your time usage with your values
  • Be less perfect – Don't waste time trying to excel at everything
  • Assert yourself and ask for help
  • Learn to say 'No'

Learn to expand your time management skills by prioritizing, organizing and simplifying. Live your life and spend your time according to your values. Evaluate the amount of time and energy you invest in supporting each value in your life and consider how you might manage your time differently so that your schedule truly reflects your priorities.

There are many ways to organize for maximum efficiency, such as cleaning up the clutter, making 'to do' lists, using technology to your advantage, negotiating, delegating and minimizing procrastination by dividing complicated tasks into smaller actions that can be quickly accomplished. Finally, simplify your life by eliminating or delegating low priority tasks.

Guard against using time management to squeeze new obligations into your day. The goal of time management is to increase your efficiency and reduce unnecessary demands so you can spend more time on enjoyable and healthful activities that ultimately improve your well-being. Make leading a healthy lifestyle a priority and use your new 'found' time on yourself!

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ 'Time Management'


Getting Motivated to Change

If you are struggling to follow your weight management program, it may be because you are having difficulty maintaining motivation and commitment to weight control. Understanding the process required to increase your motivation may help you put your knowledge into action.

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Motivation is more complex than simply wanting to do something. Your motivation to pursue a particular behavior is a reflection of your biological programming and psychological factors, such as your value system and the price you attach to success.

The Five Rs of Motivation help you determine how motivated you are to lose weight. Ask yourself:

  1. Relevant – How is weight management relevant in my life?
  2. Risks – What are the risks in my life if I do not manage my weight?
  3. Rewards – What are the rewards if my life if I manage my weight?
  4. Roadblocks – What are the roadblocks to weight management in my life?
  5. Remove – How can I remove the roadblocks in order to manage my weight?

It’s important to acknowledge the cost of making a change so that it does not subconsciously undermine your motivation to change. It’s even more important, however, to focus on the value of the change in terms of your overall lifestyle. Motivation needs to be combined with readiness to change in order to stimulate action. Change rarely occurs in a straight line, and you may move back and forth through stages of readiness to change before you commit to making a lifestyle change. There are five stages of readiness for weight control – precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. These stages of readiness can be helpful to long-term weight management and lapses.

Lapses are a normal and common part of changing behavior. The important thing is not to give up simply because you’ve had a setback. Every step, even a step backward, is informative if you analyze and learn from it, using it to help you move toward the point where you can maintain your commitment to weight control.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ 'Motivation to Change'


Staying Active

Did you know that active adults can play and work harder than their sedentary counterparts? In fact, some studies suggest that being active can make you feel 10 years younger than you really are.

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It seems that what makes the body decline is not so much the passing of years as it is the combined and cumulative effects of inactivity, poor nutrition and other harmful health habits. The good news is that, even if you are well past middle age or have been inactive for many years, you can regain lost muscle, lose fat and restore strength.

Exercise is one of the most powerful behaviors available to reduce your risk for disease and improve your quality of life. It can lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, insomnia, osteoporosis, gallstones, certain kinds of cancer and other medical conditions.

It is suggested that adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, such as jogging, weekly. It is also recommended that adults participate in strengthening activities, such as lifting weights or heavy gardening. High levels of physical activity (over 250 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity) may prevent weight regain after weight loss.

Exercise fights fat build-up in three different ways:

  1. It burns calories that would otherwise have been stored as fat.
  2. It increases the rate at which you burn calories, not only during the time that you are active, but also for several hours after you’re done.
  3. It can increase the amount of calories you burn all day. If you exercise routinely, your body will respond by building muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn all day, everyday, regardless of what else you’re doing. As an added benefit, muscle’s favorite fuel is fat.

If you’re having trouble getting active, think about what hurdles are holding you back. Time is the number one reason for not being more active, but even small bouts of activity add up, so simply add several two-minute walks to your day. Starting out with short periods of activity also makes it easier for your body to adjust to being active. Once you’ve made time in your schedule for physical activity, it gets easier to expand that activity.

If you think exercise is boring, choose one that you enjoy or vary your activities to keep them interesting. Setting goals to work towards, like training for a 5k walk/run, also helps to keep you motivated. If you think you’re too tired to exercise, remember that exercise actually counters the effects of fatigue. People who exercise regularly report more energy and better sleep.

In addition to its effects on the body, higher levels of physical activity also correlate with better brain aging. And, exercise has emerged as a factor that may prevent or delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. So, confront your personal obstacles to becoming and staying more active – your body will feel the difference.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ 'Staying Active'


Getting Active

Many studies have shown that sedentary living habits and low levels of physical fitness are associated with increased risk of disease and death from chronic illness. A sedentary lifestyle is also a major cause of excess weight.

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Research has shown that individuals can realize health and fitness benefits from moderate physical activities such as walking, house or yard work, and recreational activities. Bouts of activity as short as 10 minutes can make a contribution to health and fitness if sufficient activity is accumulated throughout the day.

Before starting any exercise program, you should consult your physician to determine an appropriate level of activity for you. You can also take the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PARQ), a simple, self-administered checklist that can help you increase your activity level.

Here are some general guidelines that may be helpful as you begin to change your physical activity habits:

  • Habit change is a gradual process, with occasional lapses and relapses
  • Learn from your setbacks, and build upon your success
  • Begin with small changes

It may be difficult to change many behaviors all at once, so an effective strategy for change is to start by making a small change and incorporating it into your lifestyle before making another change. For example, start with a two-minute walk, which you can fit in almost anywhere, any time and keep extending that walk until you reach 45-60 minutes of brisk activity every day.

Being active is safe. However, your body may need to adapt to the demands of increased exercise, so be aware of the warning signs of overexertion and stop or adjust your activity accordingly. If you get injured, use common sense. If you have any doubts about how to treat any injury, seek professional advice. Acting swiftly and properly can significantly reduce the amount of time your activity might be curtailed due to injury.

Remember -- you don’t have to go to exercise classes or a health club to reap the benefits of physical activity. You can gradually change your lifestyle so that you will want to choose to become more physically active for the rest of your life.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ 'Becoming More Active'


Great Goal Setting

We all have hopes of accomplishing goals every day. Most of us learn to set realistic goals through trial and error. But, when it comes to weight management, most people set unrealistically high goals or allow someone else to do the goal setting for them.

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Such lofty goals typically come about because the media deluges us with images of thin beautiful bodies and implies that all our troubles will melt away if we look lean enough. The sense of frustration we experience when we can’t meet these unrealistic goals often causes us to abandon our weight loss plans entirely.

Unrealistic goals, setting the wrong goal and tying a realistic goal to an unrealistic expectation are common goal-busting behaviors. However, there are many proven techniques that can help you set better goals. The best approach for you depends on what you are trying to achieve and the time frame you have to accomplish it in.

Here are some great goal setting strategies:

  • Be realistic – Set yourself up to succeed by choosing goals you can achieve
  • Be specific – Set a distinct goal you can measure your progress against
  • Do a reality check – Would you expect a close friend to be able to achieve the goal you set for yourself?
  • Be forward thinking – Stay focused by thinking like you have already achieved your goal
  • Live in the future – Visualize yourself successfully living your goal
  • Think backwards – Visualize the obstacles you encountered and how you overcame them
  • Move forward – Turn your thoughts into a series of smaller, more manageable forward moving goals.

Once you’ve set your goals, test them using the S.M.A.R.T. test – they should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and relevant and tied to a deadline.

As you pursue your weight loss goals, you may encounter obstacles. When you do, you may need to revise your goals to generate the positive momentum you need to carry your weight loss efforts forward. Rather than focusing on the numbers on the scale, keep track of the behavior changes you plan to make and follow through on your exercise and food plans. Seek support and manage your urges by learning to recognize high-risk situations that can lead to an urge and developing a series of coping skills to help you 'surf' it till it subsides.

Like all skills, goal setting needs to be practiced in order for it to become second nature. So, be patient with yourself. If setting long-range goals seems too challenging, start small and build on your success.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ 'Setting Compelling Goals'


Personal Responsibility

Personal responsibility closes the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it.

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Personal responsibility fosters successful weight management for the following reasons:

  • You and only you can successfully manage your eating and activity behaviors
  • As long as you blame someone else or external factors for your weight problems, you’ll be distracted from doing what’s truly necessary to reach your goals
  • The more you focus on external reasons for what you do or don’t do, the more powerless and out of control you will feel when trying to reach your goals

If you believe you are responsible for your actions, then you have shifted responsibility and control over your life to within yourself. People who have a strong sense of control over their lives experience less stress and frustration than do those who feel their destiny is out of their hands.

Empowerment is the act of shifting responsibility, control and power to within yourself. This shift reduces frustration, since now your energy can be redirected away from sometimes uncontrollable external events toward changing that which is truly changeable – yourself.

In order to shift responsibility from outside yourself to inside yourself, you need to move beyond blame and excuses. Blaming is a natural, although immature, behavior where you place responsibility on others for your mistakes or your lack of commitment to your goals. Excuses, which are frequently unconsciously believed and accepted, let you off the hook of personal responsibility and prevent constructive problem solving. As you move beyond blame and excuses, you will get better at letting go of something of those things you want or think you need which are actually self-destructive or unhealthy.

Assertiveness and time management are tools that can help you build your personal responsibility skills. When you are assertive, you acknowledge your own feelings and take responsibility for them, you ask for what you need and you say ‘no’ to the unreasonable requests and demands of others. When you manage your time efficiently and productively, you take personal responsibility for how you spend your time and you spend your time on those activities that you consider your top priorities in life.

When you realize it is up to you to solve your weight-gain challenges, you take personal responsibility for losing weight and keeping it off, and you improve your chances of success.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ 'Personal Responsibility'


Making Changes

The only way to lose and maintain a new healthy weight is to make permanent lifestyle changes that support the new you. Change is necessary, but making too many changes at once or getting frustrated when change does not come easily can undo your success. Just as it took time for you to develop your old habits, you need to give yourself time to learn new lifestyle habits.

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As you prepare for the process of change, you need to learn to distinguish between goals you truly want to achieve and goals others think you should achieve. ‘Shoulds’ are a reflection of customs, cultural messages, conscience and what others tell you that you should do. The goals you want to achieve for personal reasons typically provide you with stronger motivation for changing your habits than the goals you feel you should strive to attain.

The decision to adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits is a conscious choice. If you focus on the decision-making process that goes into the eating and activity behaviors you choose each day, you reinforce the fact that you are making conscious choices, rather than drifting into automatic responses.

It's important to reward the positive changes you make along the way in order to sustain your long-term commitment to your weight loss goal. Building in a series of immediate positive payoffs can help you stay motivated as you work to make permanent lifestyle changes.

Self-monitoring is a fundamental tool for successfully changing your eating habits and for maintaining your new lifestyle long-term. Keeping a daily health diary, weekly weight chart and/or journal will help you to assess your progress and stay on track.

Lapses are an inevitable part of lifestyle change, so don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t give up. To minimize lapses, it is important for you to take note of times, places and circumstances that tempt you to engage in inappropriate eating or sedentary behaviors. The most important thing to realize is that you do not have to wait to get back on track. After a lapse, take some time to figure out what triggered it, so you can prevent the lapse from becoming a relapse.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ 'Making Changes'


Changing Your Lifestyle

Changing your lifestyle behaviors can be very challenging. It is uncomfortable to leave behind old patterns, and the process of letting go of unhealthy life patterns requires courage and commitment.

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Courage may be defined as choosing to do what you know to be right despite any difficulties or fears you may encounter. It requires you to be willing to experience a period of discomfort in order to give up behaviors which do not support your desire to lead a healthy lifestyle. It also requires you to accept responsibility for experimenting with new behaviors despite your anxiety or fears. These acts of courage increase your self-respect and your confidence in your ability to lose weight and maintain it. And, remember, there is no such thing as ‘failure’ – every new attempt at changing behavior teaches you something valuable.

Commitment is needed to transform new behaviors into new habits. The initial experimentation to incorporate a new behavior into your lifestyle needs to be followed by a commitment to practice these new behaviors. Commitment is about following through on what you say will do. It is what you will do to achieve your goal.

The problems associated with weight management may stem from negative thought patterns or perceptions that can lead to feelings of powerlessness. Many individuals who struggle with weight management also experience a conflict in values, which results in feelings of guilt or shame. For example, you may struggle with the value you place on professional success versus the value you place on controlling your weight and living a healthier lifestyle.

Conflicts in values can be addressed by looking at your choices and assessing the consequences of those choices. When making decisions or choosing a behavior, you need to decide which consequences you are willing to accept, without blame or excuse. When your behavior is motivated by consequences, you are more likely to accept decisions without self-blame, guilt or shame.

Courage and commitment come into play when dealing with the discomfort of consequences associated with your choices. You may need to change the priority of conflicting values or take on additional obligations to meet the responsibilities radiating from your priorities. While the challenges associated with these new skills can be difficult, you can be successful if you are committed to examining your choices and trying new, healthier behaviors.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ ‘Lifestyle Change’



Journaling can help people discover inner strengths that fuel change and uncover beliefs that may block the emotional growth needed for purposeful change. The power of journaling is that it forces people to work at an inner level. Only to the degree that a person inwardly changes will outward results be achieved. For this reason, journal writing is an important part of the weight loss process.

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Increasingly, scientists are finding that writing about your history, the issues that trouble you or your desires, can lead to better health and improve your ability to lose weight and keep it off. Writing can improve health by counteracting the negative effects of stress. This is important because excess stress can disrupt normal body rhythms, contribute to overeating and exacerbate chronic illnesses. The process of writing may cultivate the awareness and emotional growth needed to promote inner healing, or it may reduce the build-up of negative emotions, allowing psychological space for growth and development of new life-management skills.

The success of journaling techniques hinges on asking yourself the right question before you begin journaling. Questions focus thinking and have the power to lead people into new territory and self-discovery. There are various approaches to journaling, so you need to choose a style that works for you.

If you're not ready to begin a formal journaling process, you can work toward journaling in phases. You can start with self-monitoring tools, such as food and activity diaries or Start*Stop*Keep journals, to learn to integrate writing into your wellness routine. When you are ready, you can progress to examining tools, such as a When*Where*Why journal, where you record when an urge to eat occurs and examine psychological and environmental factors that encourage overeating or too little exercise.

When you feel like you are ready to begin journaling, the Think*Blink*Ink*Link method may help you get the most out of your writing. In this method, you commit a block of time to working on your journal, ask yourself a question, write down any ideas that come to mind without censoring or editing your thoughts and then read over what you wrote and write a two-sentence summary.

Journaling is a powerful wellness tool that can improve weight loss and long-term weight management results by helping you to identify the subconscious origins of self-defeating behaviors. It can also reduce stress, focus thinking, deepen self-awareness and improve mental and physical health.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ ‘Journaling’


Enhancing Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is an essential component of wellness. It contributes to your health, your ability to cope and your sense of relating to the world. It is strongly associated with feelings of happiness and the ability to live a fulfilling and productive life.

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Having self-esteem means you are aware of both your strengths and weaknesses, and appreciate your capabilities and frailties. You have an overall good feeling about who you are right now, but you are humble in the knowledge that life is journey and there is a lot to learn along the way.

The foundations of self-esteem are unconditional worth (the idea that all people have the same basic worth inherent to being a human being), love (feelings that help you experience and appreciate your worth), and growing (a process that allows you to develop your innate abilities and appreciate your talents).

Self-talk plays an important role in determining how you act and how you feel about yourself. Positive self-talk is likely to prevent you from inappropriate eating and feeling bad about yourself. Here are some suggestions to help you make your self-talk more positive and enhance your self-esteem:

  1. Develop an awareness of your negative, self-defeating thoughts
    Overgeneralizations, labels, all-or-nothing thinking, disqualifying the positive, catastrophic thinking, personalizing and ‘should’ statements are all negative, self-defeating thoughts that contribute to a low level of self-esteem.
  2. Analyze and challenge your thoughts and beliefs
    Negative beliefs, such as ‘If I eat, I’ll feel better’ or ‘People don’t like me because I’m overweight’, may cause you difficulty in your weight management efforts. Substituting a positive thought for the negative belief can help.
  3. Use positive affirmations regularly
    Use positive statements of what you’d like to see happen in your life and repeat them often enough that these positive thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies.
  4. Build up your body image
    A poor body image may be affecting your weight management efforts. Developing a more positive attitude about the way you look at your present weight may enable you to take steps to improve your weight and health.
  5. Overcome perfectionism
    If you are a perfectionist, you may be setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. You can choose to change your perfectionist behaviors, breaking the connection between perfectionism and satisfaction and allowing yourself to make mistakes and learn from them.

As you acquire skills to attack negative events, thoughts and feelings in a systematic way, practice them as a part of building your self-esteem and a healthier lifestyle, and soon you will notice healthy changes in your self-image.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ ‘Enhancing Self-Esteem’


Embracing Change

Reaching a new goal always requires change. Even when you are unhappy with your current situation and wish to change it, there is frequently some positive aspect associated with it that is hard to let go.

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The relationship between life changes and health outcomes has been found to depend greatly upon how positively or negatively an individual rates each event. There is great variation in how different people view the same life changes. Those who saw their changes as strongly negative tended to have greater emotional and physical symptoms of stress. Those who say their changes as strongly positive were less likely to experience poor health.

When you are facing a change in your life, whether it is one you choose or it is one imposed on you, you can respond in two ways:

  • You can resist the change, which involves focusing on the negative aspects of the situation and closing your mind to the potential positive aspects of the change
  • You can actively embrace the change, which implies opening your mind to all the opportunities inherent in the situation and appreciating the positives as well as the negative aspects of the change

When you resist change, you create rebellion and resistance within yourself. You often feel victimized and out of control. When you choose to open your mind to all of the possibilities of change, when you choose to embrace change as a challenge for growth, you are empowering yourself. You will begin to see options and alternatives, where before you saw only obstacles and frustrations.

It is important to realize that you rarely embrace a change completely and finally. Instead, you tend to alternate back and forth between resisting and embracing change. In your weight management efforts, learn to recognize when you are moving into a resistance phase and develop strategies for moving back toward embracing your challenge.

As you prepare to make a lifestyle change, set a goal and develop a plan that you can commit to. Get support, monitor your progress, expect setbacks, reinforce each small success and, most importantly, take it one day (moment, hour, meal) at a time – each moment is a new opportunity to make a healthy decision.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ ‘Embracing Change’


Building Confidence

Self-confidence means having a sense of control over your actions, which in turn helps you to better deal with troublesome situations. Research has shown that your level of confidence in your ability to perform a given behavior or manage a certain situation is strongly related to actually being able to do the behavior or handle the situation.

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In order to adopt positive habits to change your lifestyle, you must think and feel that you have the ability to do it. If you doubt your ability to lose weight, then you need to increase your feelings of self-confidence about losing weight.

Here are some tips for building self-confidence:

  • Fulfill your needs - Give up trying to solve other people’s problems or save them from the consequences of their behaviors
  • Become self-reliant – Believe you can handle things and be successful
  • Recognize your own true worth as a person
  • Stop fighting change - Be willing to give up things the way they are in order to have them the way they can be
  • Keep company with positive people
  • Concentrate on your assets and good qualities
  • Imagine your ‘ideal’ you
  • Stand tall and smile!

Part of building confidence is recognizing and breaking the dependency habit. Dependency means becoming so absorbed in others that you ignore your own needs and desires and live only in reaction to another person’s behavior. Breaking the dependency habit will help you to develop the self-reliance you need to meet and solve your own problems.

Building confidence also requires self-motivation. You make choices every minute, and motivation is your desire to do one thing rather than another at a given point in time, such as going for a walk rather than watching television. In order to make positive changes in your lifestyle, begin with positive motivation, the desire to do something worthwhile and constructive to your well-being.

A high level of self-confidence is a very strong predictor of dedication to physical activity plans, appropriate eating habits, and long term success in weight management. Developing strategies for maintaining self-confidence in areas where it is already high and improving self-confidence in areas where it is low will help you take control of your eating and activity behaviors and manage your weight loss.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ ‘Building Support’


Building Support

You can go it alone when it comes to weight loss, but the road to success may be swifter if you have support. Over the past 20 years there has been an increased awareness of the role that supportive relationships play in helping people achieve goals and cope with challenges. People who feel supported report less stress, fewer illnesses and a greater sense of success. So, building support may be crucial to your weight loss success.

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Here are some tips for getting good support for your weight loss goals:

  • State your intention to achieve a healthy weight
  • Tell others the types of support you need
  • Set limits on any behaviors or situations that threaten to sabotage your weight loss efforts
  • Avoid ‘naysayers’ who put down or otherwise undermine your efforts
  • Give constructive feedback
  • Recognize that others may have difficulty adjusting to the changes in your lifestyle
  • Team up with a buddy who is also motivated to lose weight and lead a more physically active lifestyle
  • Find a weight loss role model

When building a support network, remember that different people in your life offer different types of support. Family and friends may applaud your successes and help you build a health-friendly environment. OPTIFAST clinic staff can provide you with accurate weight management information and use proven coaching techniques to help you overcome hurdles. Role models can relate to your feelings because they have experienced the same situations you are facing and they help you see ahead on the road to success.

As you build your support network, learn to recognize the difference between support and sabotage. Sometimes sabotage is easy to recognize, such as when someone criticizes every choice you make. But, in other cases, sabotage is so subtle is may be confused for support, such as when a friend insists that you take just one bite of your favorite dessert because you’ve been ‘so good.’ If someone close to you has trouble separating support from sabotage, try a heart-to-heart talk or seek help in enlisting their long-term cooperation and support.

Don’t forget to include yourself in your support network! You are the captain of your weight loss team and you must be the one to chart the course toward success.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ ‘Building Support’


Asserting Yourself

Communication is a bridge to building relationships. Good communication skills improve your relationships, and in turn, can enhance other aspects of your life, including your efforts to manage your weight.

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Assertive skills curb passive or aggressive tendencies and help you express your needs in a way that builds supportive relationships. In fact, assertiveness is a cornerstone of successful weight management. Developing assertive skills will help you:

  • Tactfully set limits on the demands others try to make on your time and energy
  • Communicate your true thoughts and feelings, thereby making you less likely to use food to manage your emotions
  • Build the support you need to manage your weight and help you cope with new situations including ones that threaten to sabotage your weight management efforts
  • Gain an increased sense of control over your life, which in turn can lower your stress level

Being assertive means that you accept responsibility for protecting your own rights and needs without abusing others, feel confident, avoid feeling angry or guilty, accept you won’t always get your way, can acknowledge you may be wrong and recognize the need to take some risks. The keys to acting assertively are being able to recognize difficult situations and developing the skills needed to deal with these situations. You can practice developing assertive skills by learning to recognize common behavioral styles, identifying probable consequences of acting in these ways and then brainstorming assertive techniques to help you achieve your weight loss and other goals.

Properly practiced, assertiveness is the middle ground between passivity and aggression. By acting assertively, you show respect for others’ thoughts and feelings, communicate your own needs and feelings in a clear and respectful manner and demonstrate that you are willing to compromise. The more you practice assertiveness, the more confident you will become in dealing with difficult situations.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ ‘Asserting Yourself’



All of us find ourselves in difficult situations from time to time. Depending on our personality and social skills, we may act assertively to resolve the situation in a manner we are comfortable with, or we may act in passive or aggressive ways that end up doing more harm than good.

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Communication is a two-way process involving speaking and listening skills. Combining good speaking skills with good listening skills will enable you to communicate more effectively, and can reduce the discomfort or stress you may experience when dealing with others.

The first step to effective communication is identifying how thoughts and feelings can affect communication and distort messages. To minimize the amount of distortion between you and your listener, check what you intend to say before you speak and then use assertive communication methods to send a direct, open and honest message. As you speak, periodically evaluate your listener’s feedback to be sure that your message is understood. If this feedback suggests that your message was misunderstood, modify your message until the feedback you receive tells you that the listener understood your message the way you intended.

Sometimes, your listener will not be ready to communicate, no matter how well you deliver your message. If this happens, politely ask to end the discussion and continue it when both of you have had time to think. If progress isn’t possible and the issue at hand is critical, you may need to seek professional intervention from a mediator or counselor to facilitate communication.

When you are listening, make a sincere effort to understand what the other person is communicating. Techniques such as clarifying, restating and highlighting, reflecting feelings and summarizing, can enhance your ability to listen.

Good communication skills require practice, patience and perseverance, but communication is the most important part of any relationship. Being an effective communicator can also boost your self-esteem, enhance your coping skills, and help you maintain control of your life, factors that are all essential for successful weight management.

*from the OPTIFAST Lifestyle Education Series™ ‘Communication’


Lifestyle Tip

The secret to long term weight management lies in making important lifestyle changes that become everyday habits. Here are a few examples of techniques that have been proven effective for our OPTIFAST Program patients.

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Lifestyle Process Change

To lose weight and successfully manage it, it’s vital to overcome old behaviors that now get in your way. This takes understanding and insight. It also takes courage and true commitment.

Tip 1: Remember that a goal is what you hope to achieve, but commitment is following through on what you say you will do.

Tip 2: Identify the key negative words and thoughts that fuel your overeating.

Tip 3: When deciding on actions that affect your weight, stop using the language of shame, and start thinking in terms of choice and consequences.


Exercise Tip

Physical activity is essential to successful weight management, and there are a wide variety of ways to help you achieve your exercise goals for long term weight management. Here are some tips. Check back for more!

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Balanced Fitness

The way to get the most out of your exercise is to vary your activities to include the three major components: aerobic or cardiovascular exercise; flexibility, or stretching; and muscle strength and endurance.

Tip 1: You can build specific muscles through targeted exercises, but don’t waste your time trying to achieve spot reduction of fat; it’s not possible.

Tip 2: To achieve muscle balance, you should stretch the muscles that are stronger and strengthen the ones that are weaker.

Tip 3: The best way to achieve overall fitness is through a combination of aerobic activity, stretching and strength training.