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KEEPIN' LOVE ALIVE: The diet pill warning

KEEPIN' LOVE ALIVE: The diet pill warning

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Each year more than 40 billion dollars are spent on diet pills. That’s over 100 million dollars per day, every day, all year long. Wow.

Yet studies show that over 70 percent of Americans are overweight. One study projected that if current trends continue, by 2030 that percentage would rise to 86 percent.

I am not a diet expert by any means, but it appears that diet pills are not solving our weight problems. Of course most experts would tell you that’s not the purpose of diet pills.

But let’s be honest, who hasn’t tried to lose weight by taking diet pills instead of making lifestyle changes? After all, wouldn’t that be most convenient?

Even those who sell diet pills know that their product isn‘t enough by itself. I’ve often chuckled, as I’m sure you have too, by the small print under diet ads that promise results “When combined with healthy eating and exercise.”

I chuckle because it only makes sense that if you improve your eating habits and exercise then of course you are going to lose weight. But I bet that most people buying diet pills are using them instead of making these lifestyle changes, not combined with them.

When used properly, and combined with healthy eating and exercise, then diet pills can obviously aid in weight loss. But the information I’ve read suggests lifestyle changes, not diet pills, as the way to life-long weight management.

Much like diet pills, thousands of couples come to marriage therapy every year because they can‘t get along. They hope that if they learn some communication skills their relationship will be all better.

And old-school couples therapy focused on just that: helping couples learn “fair fighting” strategies. It seemed to make sense that if couples didn’t argue as much, they would be happy again.

But the theory fell flat on its face. Turns out that despite being able to decrease arguing, couples still divorced. And many of those who did stay together, weren’t happy, they just didn’t argue as much. This “diet pill” approach by itself did not restore happiness.

Looking back, it makes sense. A happy marriage is made up of so much more than just not arguing. I often tell people that I don’t argue with my neighbors or friends, but it doesn’t mean I want to be married to any of them either.

If you want to be successful at restoring happiness to your marriage, it takes more than just decreasing your arguing. To really have success, you must make lifestyle changes.

Just like a diet pill, focusing on decreasing your arguing can help improve your

relationship, but by itself it will not save it. When combined with rebuilding the friendship, however, you can have great success.

Couples therapy now takes a different approach to helping couples find happiness. Instead of just focusing on fair fighting strategies, I spend just as much time, if not more, on helping couples restore their friendship and fun.

After all, didn’t you fall in love with your partner because of the fun you had together? I’m not aware of too many couples, if any, who decided to marry simply because their partner was good at managing conflict. How boring is that!

Amazingly, when couples make lifestyle changes that support a healthy and ongoing friendship, they often don’t need training on fair fighting. The fighting automatically decreases on its own.

Much like healthy eating and exercise can produce weight loss without diet pills, a good friendship can automatically decrease fighting, without fair-fighting training.

This makes sense, too. Who are you more likely to fight with, a friend or an enemy? Most likely an enemy, right? So if you turn your partner into a friend, you’ll automatically be less likely to argue with them, too.

Diet pills certainly have helped many people lose weight. But I doubt they have really helped many stay thin. Similarly, while decreasing your arguing can help improve your relationship, if you really want long term happiness, focus on lifestyle changes that keep the friendship strong and not just on strategies to decrease your fighting.

So take some time today and build that friendship. Have some fun. Enjoy. Laugh. It will go a long way in developing a healthy relationship that will last a lifetime.

Remember, couple relationships are easier than you think, but harder than you act.

For more information on couple relationships, visit

Mark Anderson is a mental health therapist specializing in couples therapy at Oregon Trail Mental Health in Scottsbluff. To contact him call 635-2800 or visit online at

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