Lisa Galper spent years on diets, using willpower and selfdeprivation to try to lose weight.
But Galper failed, like the other 90 percent to 99 percent of the population that cannot maintain weight loss on a diet for five years, she said.
The Scottsdale psychologist began observing the habits of people who maintain a normal weight.
She discovered a principle that helped her achieve a healthy lifestyle.
"Basically, they don’t approach managing their weight from a ‘diet’ mentality," Galper said. "Normal eaters don’t think of food as good or bad. They learn to enjoy all foods without guilt."
Galper works with patients who suffer from obesity or eating disorders in private practice in Scottsdale, and she is the chief psychologist for Scottsdale Healthcare’s Balance program.
She helps patients understand the psychological reasons they overeat and make balanced changes in their lives.
She will teach a nine-week Weight Loss and Well Being seminar in four sessions this summer, beginning Tuesday at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea hospital.
Galper teaches people to distinguish between actual feelings of hunger and cravings to eat to cope with emotional or psychological issues — such as marital problems, work pressures, anxiety or depression.
Traditional methods of losing weight — including changing eating habits and adding exercise to a person’s lifestyle — are still crucial to losing unwanted pounds, said Dr. Kirk Strawn, director of nutritional services and diabetes education for CIGNA Medical Group.
But those trying to lose weight also "need to deal with why it is that they’re overweight in the first place," he said.
As people go on diets, they remove the coping mechanism used to deal with pain or psychological issues underneath, Strawn said.
Overweight patients may also be dealing with secondary health problems, such as low energy and physical pain, as well as low self-esteem.
Galper said she teaches patients to listen to their bodies and take emotional cues on what to eat and when to stop.
"The foundation of good weight management is planning, strategy and self-care," Galper said.
"It is not willpower, deprivation, extremely hard work," she said.
What: Weight Loss and Well Being classes
When: Noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays, June 15 to Aug. 10; and noon to 1:30 p.m., 5:30 to 7 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, June 17 to Aug. 12
Where: Scottsdale Healthcare Shea hospital, 9003 E. Shea Blvd.
Information: (480) 860-3846. Reservations are required.