Coping Skills

A lack of strong coping skills can lead to overeating and weight regain. Learning coping skills such as meditating and exercising can help manage stress levels during the emotional episodes that are part of everyone's life.
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One big misconception about maintaining a weight loss is that it's all about eating and exercising.1 Thinking patterns also have a profound and often underappreciated impact on lasting weight loss. Certain skills are needed for these patterns to contribute to maintaining weight loss; some of these skills include problem solving, goal setting and coping skills.

The Impact of Coping Skills on Preventing Weight Regain
Strong coping skills are associated with weight loss maintenance while poor coping skills can lead to overeating and weight regain.1 Coping skills are needed during a significant change in life events such as a job change, pregnancy, loss of a loved one or relocation. These stressful situations often bring on feelings of anxiety, depression and frustration, which are linked with weight regain.2 Coping skills can help manage stress levels during the emotional episodes that are part of everyone's life.

Learning Coping Skills
The good news is that coping skills can be learned. For example, a few coping skills include establishing sound sleeping habits, exercising and meditating. Developing coping skills helps lead to managing stress in a positive way and can prevent eating in response to a tough situation.

Coping skills may be particularly important to those who have undergone bariatric surgery. A review of studies shows that surgical patients who struggle in this area are less successful than those who have strong coping skills.3 Indeed, patients with the best outcomes from bariatric surgery are those who also cope with significant life events in a direct and active way. For those who do not have these skills going into surgery, it is essential that they learn them after the surgery.

In summary, while eating and exercise habits are important parts of losing weight, thinking patterns play an essential role as well. Learning or strengthening coping skills assists in dealing with life stressors in a constructive way and supports long-term weight loss.

The Weight Watchers Approach:

Developing strong coping skills can go a long way toward achieving a weight goal and maintaining it for the long term.

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Other Science Library topics:

Thinking About Weight Loss

Mind Skills for Lasting Weight Loss


1 Chambers JA, Swanson V. Stories of weight management: factors associated with successful and unsuccessful weight maintenance. Br J Health Psychol. 2012 May;17(2):223-43.

2 Turk MW, Sereika SM, Yang K, Ewing LJ, Hravnak M, Burke L. Psychosocial correlates of weight maintenance among black & white adults. Am J Health Behav. 2012 Mar;36(3):395-407.

3 Hout GC, Verschure SK, van Heck GL. Psychosocial predictors of success following bariatric surgery. Obes Surg. 2005 Apr; 15(4): 552-60.