Too often, mental health professionals focus on treating illness rather than maintaining
wellness. However, the skills we bring to the treatment of psychological disorders are the
same skills that can aid people with enhancing wellness. More importantly, the focus on
wellness can prevent the life disruption caused by illness and the need for further treatment.
What does it mean to focus on wellness? Basically, it means life style enhancements that
protects the individual's physical well-being and improves the ability to cope with stressors.
Frequently, these are simple techniques that most people just don't take the time to include
in their lives. How many times have you said or heard others say, "I don't have time to
exercise" or "I don't have time to relax?" Thus, a very important contributor to wellness
is attitude: a thought process that influences the way a person approaches dealing with life.
Wellness is not only a state of physical health, it is also a state of mind. The mind and body are
completely integrated. The mind and body cannot be separated into "This is a physical illness" and
"This is a mental illness," although we do just that in our classification schemes. Research has
shown more and more that mental illness often has a physical component, and that many physical
illnesses can be addressed, at least partially, through behavioral means.
Let's look at this through logical analysis. We use medications for many different kinds of
problems: to relieve pain, to reduce depression and/or anxiety, to lower blood pressure, to
reduce cholesterol, to fight infections, etc. Have you ever wondered why medications work?
In the simplest terms possible, medications primarily work because they either mimic or stimulate
natural processes. We are chemical beings. Everything that we do, that we think, is through
chemical processes. Therefore, when we use medications, we are aiding a natural bodily process.
The hardest thing about dieting is the deprivation. It
feels like we are being punished. No wonder so many
people are unsuccessful with dieting if it has such a
strong negative reaction. We aren't motivated by
negativity except to move away from it. We are
motivation to move towards things that feel good.
Therefore, the secret to losing weight has to be in
making it feel good. "How can I do that?" you ask
because you associate the words "diet" and "bad."
I don't have any miracle or new strategies to weight
loss. What I am presenting in this article are the old
tried and true techniques that have been shown through
behavioral research to be effective. However, the title
is true. You can lose weight without deprivation if you
change some basic ineffective thought processes and
don't have any willpower."
"I can't do it."
Not long ago I conducted a little experiment with my
cardio-kickboxing class. After an intense class I told
them to get the heaviest weights they could curl 8-10
times. I spent a minute telling them to focus on feeling
tired, that they had just worked out hard and they
couldn't do anymore. Then, they were to curl the weights
to exhaustion where they just couldn't lift anymore.
Once they finished, I spent another minute telling them
to focus on having energy, feeling good, feeling
refreshed, and knowing they could do more. Once again,
they lifted the weights to exhaustion. The results were
that out of nine people, only one did fewer lifts the
second time! And typically, when someone lifts weights
to exhaustion they should not be able to lift as much
the second time when it is only a minute later. Although
this was not a scientific experiment, it was a
demonstration to my class to show how powerful our
thinking can be. What this exercise showed was how
positive thinking overcame the natural exhaustion of the
body and created a self-fulfilling prophecy of lifting
more weight because the participants believed that they
How does this demonstration apply to achieving a healthy
weight. Take a moment and write down or reflect upon all
the thoughts that come to mind when you think about
dieting or losing weight. Now note how many of those
thoughts are negative.