Motivation Articles

A Solution-Focused Approach to Weight Loss

Ask the Right Questions, Find the Right Answers

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You’ll know you’re on the right track when:
  • You focus on things that go well more often than things that don't.
  • You focus on concrete ways that things can be different and how to make those changes right now. (You’re not thinking about how bleak things may look.)
  • You believe there are good reasons why you do things that cause problems, and that you can find alternative solutions that don’t have the undesirable side effects. Having problems doesn't mean something is wrong with you—just that you’ve outgrown a particular solution and are ready to find a new one.
  • You take action so that your odds of beating your problem today are pretty good.
Asking yourself these questions may feel a little strange, awkward, or even uncomfortable at first. You may experience anxiety, or come up with a big blank when you start to think about how things will be different for you. That’s normal, and OK—it takes time to change from being problem-focused to being solution-focused. Just keep trying. You will find the solutions you’re looking for.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • Excellent! Focus on the positive, change what you can right now, find the GOOD behind the bad behavior and ask "The Miracle Question." Perfect time to read this. After a year of steadily losing weight and working up to half marathon level again, I let the stress of nursing school derail me. I stopped eating veggies, drinking water, exercising and have gained 6 pounds. Worst of all, I was feeling this was inevitable. This article gave me hope and tools to turn this ride around. Yay! - 12/2/2015 2:15:24 PM
  • True true. I sometimes tell myself that I'll just change dietary habits without touching my physical activity because of whatever excuse I have, but once I admit to myself that I really have no reason not to add in different exercise I end up doing it and getting myself out of mental ruts that keep my weight from moving. - 12/2/2015 1:30:41 PM
  • Oh, for the love...
    spare me the great cult of positivity.
    Your attitude is meaningless if you lack the tenacity to do the work required to achieve the result.
    If you're not calling yourself out on your shortcomings, who else is going to do it? - 12/2/2015 11:44:39 AM
  • Such a helpful article! I'm writing these questions down in my journal to ponder frequently. Thank you. - 12/2/2015 10:04:20 AM
  • Oh AMEN, Dean. You nailed it...reading through the comments just stresses what you set out to teach. What you can't/didn't do is tell people specific things for them to do, for we each have our own bucket of oh boy to deal with. Yes, this is an individual journey in a very public place...which makes life interesting. Instead, you tried to get us to flip the switch in our brain so our focus is on SOLUTIONS instead of our problems. Laser focus on the problem usually succeeds in getting us nowhere, in a hurry. Loved this, thank you! - 12/2/2015 6:59:13 AM
  • I love this. I read another's comment about how the points in this article are EXACTLY why this is working this time. I agree. I have been working on this, applying myself fully to this growth experience, shedding blame and doubt along the way, and really embracing my ability to succeed. By no means is it always easy...but I am staying grounded in what is real and what I have the ability to affect. I have learned so much about who I really am and what I am really capable of through this process. As my goal board says...I am living my BEST life, now (not waiting to reach my goal before I believe that). - 7/29/2014 4:11:09 PM
  • COOKEDBOOK
    This is the vaguest article I have ever read on here. :-/ - 6/14/2014 9:58:37 AM
  • One of the best articles I have ever read on SP! Thank you so much--I'm bookmarking this and will definitely come back to it. What a way to take a look at perspective. - 11/30/2013 5:22:04 PM
  • AMAYABLUE
    Great article, thank you! - 10/17/2013 11:43:36 AM
  • ELLY2017
    Excellent article. So useful to get one's thinking out of the same old groove. Thank you Spark People! - 8/13/2013 10:03:01 PM
  • I have made my mind up that I am going all the way this time. I really want to be healthy. - 4/29/2013 8:46:58 AM
  • MICHELEB04
    This article is EXACTLY why I've been successful this time. I didn't know why it was working but now I do. At the start of this year, I set 3 very small, very specific actions I was going to take to meet my weight loss. I haven't really set a number-related goal, I've tried but backed away each time. Instead, I kept focusing on my actions (i.e. solutions) and today the scale proved that this is the way to get it done! - 3/24/2013 9:14:59 PM
  • I have read and re-read this article many times. I have also shared it with many who are struggling on their journey, on whatever "program" they are using. As long as you have goals set to use as a guideline, you will be successful; however, there are going to be times when you "fall off" or make a mistake. But you can't beat yourself up over it. Just realize what you did, use it as a lesson learned and move on! This article helps one to understand that! AWESOME article that I will surely go back to again and again! - 3/24/2013 4:17:38 PM
  • So I can just positive thinking to think myself thinner? For me I have to tell myself I've come this far I'm not messing it up now. I said I'm going to lose weight and thats what I'm going to do because I will not be a failure at this. I did the same thing when I quit smoking. I had a failure cig that I refused to smoke. - 3/24/2013 1:48:44 PM
  • I loved this article! It seems to be just what I need now! I've been gaining weight because of a sweet tooth that just won't quit. To be able to find alternate ways of distraction really, to help me to not go to them, is such a tremendous reminder. Thank you so much!! - 3/24/2013 1:23:43 PM

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