obesity – overeating – weight loss diets – other weight issues…


Weight loss diets that work? Let’s see … “I can’t stand women who can’t get back to their original figure after having children.” That seemed like a ridiculous thing to say but somehow this throw-away comment fell onto fertile ground. Six months later – a starvation diet. It was easy enough. A week later, and 10 pounds were gone.

Then, a few years later, another innocuous remark, by another person. Another man, to be precise – quite likely, that’s important: “125 pounds? Well, you don’t need to weigh more.” It was probably forgotten the moment he turned back to his newspaper. And so it went, for years and years. Weight gain, weight loss, diets, exercising – a decade-long spiral.

Moments of emotional upheaval suggested food (and weight gain) just as those male voices suggested weight loss. And the food tasted good, the fullness in the stomach was reassuring, the slightly drugged feeling was a wonderful escape, the heaviness gave the feeling of groundedness that seemed otherwise so elusive. Then there were the occasional fantastic weight loss experiences!

But the spiral went up and up. This is what happens with yoyo dieting. Lose 10 pounds, gain 15. Lose 20 pounds, gain 30. Lose 30 pounds … you get the picture. It’s not just about losing weight but how to lose weight and keep it off.

When we analyze this little story, we see a number of things. Of course, they are not the only elements, and many of these elements are intricately intertwined. At any rate, looking at these elements can help untangle the web of obesity.

Expectations. Our culture is obsessed with weight and how much a person “should” weigh. Here’s a question. If you are reasonably healthy and fit, how much does your weight matter? There is a saying, “scales are for fish”. Let’s not let the scales dictate how we feel about our bodies.

Self esteem / self worth. So much of our self worth is tied up in what other people say about us (or worse yet, what we imagine they say about us). Even unimportant little comments can throw us for a loop if we already feel insecure in a certain area. For example, if I already feel insecure in my feminity or sexuality, a comment about my body shape by an important man in my life can inflict a wound that may fester for a long time.

Dieting. Weight loss diets don’t work for yoyo dieters. Dieting certainly works for some people, for example for the person who overdoes it a bit on Christmas and then goes on a diet to lose five pounds – and those five pounds stay off. Diets don’t work for most people with chronic weight problems. They need a lifestyle change.

Emotional eating. Being angry or lonely can trigger the desire to eat. Sadness, excitement, boredom, fear, resentments add to the list of triggers. Literally any feeling at all can be the reason to grab those chips, a couple of donuts, the bag of cookies, a chocolate bar, or bring on yet another trip to the fridge. Eating can simply be a response to emotions – a sort of companion – or it can be used to mask those feelings. Food can be a drug, a form of self medication.

The physical experience of eating. What can I say – food just tastes and feels good, and if something tastes and feels good, it’s natural to want more of it. Pretty much everyone knows the experience of eating more than necessary. But for the overeater, it just doesn’t stop. There is often an actual inability – learned or “wired in the brain” – to understand and react to the cues of hunger and fullness. It’s like a car alarm that never goes off, or one that can’t be turned off.

The weight. The experience of being a “weighty person” is more reassuring than most people would think. One feels like a “person of substance”, someone who can’t be pushed around. The weight feels like insulation – it’s harder to get hurt when there is an armour for protection.

So …. if you recognize yourself in any of this and you want a change in your life, what are some of your options?

Another weight loss diet. There is a slim possibility that you haven’t tried the right diet yet. If you need to try that again, make sure you use one that you can see yourself following for a long time. The more variety that diet has, the greater the chance it’ll work. Says diet expert M.L. Dansiger, “The key to success is finding a diet plan that you can stick to”.

Psychotherapy / counselling. As mentioned above, overeating may be connected to psychological issues such as low self esteem. Many people with weight problems have suffered abuse as children. A good counsellor can help sort out these problems. Just having someone listen to some things that have been kept hidden for a long time can be the beginning of weight release. If you feel that counselling might help, get in touch with me and we’ll see what we can do. You can also go to the American Psychological Association for more information.

Overeaters Anonymous. Similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, these are support groups of peers who “have been there, done that, got the t-shirt”. You can find people there who have struggled with their weight and successfully kept it off for many years. Many people find that underneath their eating problem is a “living problem”. While by no means religious, Overeaters Anonymous is a spiritual approach.

… and, last not least: men and weight issues. We seem to think that women are the only ones who struggle with weight. There are lots of men who have weight issues, too. Because of cultural factors, these tend to be hidden – with the result that usually, men are very isolated around their weight issues. First of all, there are probably more women who are overweight, and second, men find it much, much harder to come together for support around such problems. Stay tuned for a section on men and weight issues.

77 thoughts on “obesity – overeating – weight loss diets – other weight issues…

  1. Isaac Richardson

    I have yo-yo’d most of my life. I can almost always say that my weight gaining periods are connected to my periods of depression and the loss periods are when I lose weight. Great article!


  2. isabella mori

    thanks, everyone, for your kind words.

    lucy, you said “looking forward to the continuation” – so let me put this question to all of you:

    what is missing here? what would you like to hear more about?

  3. June - how to lose weight quickly

    I;m one of the yo yo dieters you talk about. I wish I had a dollar for every pound Ive lost and regained over my lifetime. I’ve just lost 70 poundsin 2007. I’m doing something new this time to try and keep it off. I’ve been doing weight-loss meditations and something called EFT tapping to help me keep on track and stick with my new healthy lifestyle.

  4. isabella mori

    hi june, and thanks for visiting. your approach sounds interesting, and i like how you say, “it works for me, it may work for you, too.” (very different, and much better, than saying, “it worked for me, so it WILL work for you, too.”)

    the description you give here is the typical description of someone with a food addiction.

    it would be interesting to see how your approach works with overeaters anonymous. it sounds like for some people the two could be complementary.

  5. June - how to lose weight quickly

    Hi Isabella,

    Yes, this approach will be complementary to OA or to any other program that a person might be on. Since there is a spiritual comonent to both Silva Meditations and EFT, although neither are promoted as such, they would be a natural for any twelve step program.

  6. Paulina Jenkins

    Try apple cider vinegar and see for yourself what it can do for your weight. I am living proof that you can be middle age but you can still be slim. I was watching what I ate and running 6km six days a week and still putting on weight! I lost the excess weight with apple cider vinegar and it is helping me to maintain my weight today. Try it!

    Paulina Jenkins’s last blog post..Gotu Kola As Alternative Medicine

  7. isabella mori

    June, I’m looking forward to talking more with you about EFT and the Silva Method for dealing with weight issues.

    Thanks, Paulina, for the tip on apple cider vinegar. It looks like that was the “missing link” for you!

  8. June - how to lose weight quickly

    Yes, Wesley, I agree that eating properly and exercising will produce weight loss. However, the problem is that anyone with a food addiction or an food compulsion will be unable to maintain that discipline indefininely. For these people, the emotional issues and the underlying issues have to be addressed or they are doomed to fail over the long haul.

  9. Editor

    “There are lots of men who have weight issues, too. Because of cultural factors, these tend to be hidden – with the result that usually, men are very isolated around their weight issues.”

    I agree, this is an excellent post and worthy of much discussion.

    Editor’s last blog post..Colon Cancer: Facts to Know

  10. isabella mori

    @Wesley and @June: what comes first, the chicken or the egg? I think for most people, the START of emotional recovery around food, weight and body image tends to come first. Then we add improved eating and exercise habits and slowly the two potentiate each other.

    @Paulina: You are so right about that. When we are young, we can do all kinds of wild and crazy things to our bodies. Once we hit 40, we really need to be on our toes.

    @Editor: I’ve been promising some entries on men and weight issues for ages. It’s about time I do something about that, isn’t it? So I promise to write something about this by the end of February. If I don’t I owe you a cup of coffee (or soy milk or … 🙂 )

  11. Paulina Jenkins

    Most men do not pay much attention to the way they look. You see a lot of men with big guts walking around and quite proud of themselves. Yet these same men will be the first ones to criticize the way a woman looks! Just not fair! I go jogging in the morning and sometimes a roadside government works (middle age with big gut) will say to me “run faster” I almost wanted to answer “if it’s that easy why don’t you run so you may be able to get rid of your big gut!

    Paulina Jenkins’s last blog post..Fenugreek As Alternative Medicine

  12. isabella mori

    paulina, my experience has been that men have way more body image problems than most people think. they just don’t want to talk or even think about it, or they don’t know how to go about it.

    my post today (january 31, 2008) includes a video of a man struggling with bulimia.

    and the double standard, yeah, that’s true, although you might be interested in this post about men, women and body image.

  13. Wild Lily

    Great article and interesting thoughts. I personally think that the most effective ways to lose weight are 1) more phisical activity (if this is possible to walk to the office and back, it’s great) and 2) abstain from eating before going to bed. Overall, on my opinion it’s more important is how a person feels. If he/she is at ease, he or she doesn’t need any diets.

  14. A.R. Bexton MD

    As a Medical Doctor, I see the hassle of special foods giving a nod to the convenience of supplements. While no supplement is perfect, and results may vary from one person to another, a pharmacy grade weight loss supplement is a convenient boost to anyone’s weight loss approach. We personally like Carb Blockers and Tonilin – one reduces carbohydrate calories and the other reduces fat. The bottom line is that for those who really want to lose weight, getting started and sticking with it are key issues. Pharmacy grade natural supplements essentially jumpstart your results and as you see results. you’ll continue the process.

  15. Paulina Jenkins

    All my adult lie I have to struggle with my weight. When I was trying to lose weight by dieting, my will power was almost ni. If I put a chocolate cokkie in my mouth I could not stop at one until the whole packet was eaten up. Now that I am do not resort to dieting to control my weight, if I fancy a cookie I would not go insane like I used to. A lot of times I think dieting affects you in a big way with your sub-conscious mind. Moderation, exercises and lots of water are my sanity!

    Paulina Jenkins’s last blog post..Bearberry As Alternative Medicine

  16. GRoCF

    I personally think that the best approach to finding your best weight is with 100% all natural foods plus regular weight lifitng and cardio. The body has an amazing ability to heal and correct itself if we give it the proper tools.

    If you’re fit, muscular and toned you’re going to look wonderful regardless of what the number on the scale reads. Besides, even though muscle weighs more than fat, it takes up 2/3 less space.

  17. isabella mori

    thanks for your comments!

    “sanity” – that’s a crucial word!

    and of course there is no question that eating natural foods and regular cardio and weights are ideal.

    these are all great solutions. the question is: how do you GET to the solution, and STAY there?

  18. Paulina Jenkins

    Thanks for sharing. It is so true that when you are confident in yourself you are less likely to be hurt by other people’s comments. There are so many thoughtless people who always say things to hurt others some on purpose and some unknowingly. You’ll find they themselves do not look that great anyway!

    Paulina Jenkins’s last blog post..Epilobium As Alternative Medicine

  19. Florentina - Weight Loss Helpers

    I too think people are considering dieting a temporary period in their life when in fact diets=healthy eating should represent a way of life. Maybe ,in the beggining, the diet should be more drastic but, once the desired weight is achieved, the life style during the diet shouldn’t be change too much.

  20. Paulina Jenkins

    Now that I just stick to eating foods that are not loaded with fat or sugar and plenty of fruits and vegetables I do not consider myself on a diet at all. My eating choices become second nature and I do not binge. It’s hard to believe that I was actually fat before! Go natural I say!

    Paulina Jenkins’s last blog post..Dong Quai As Alternative Medicine

  21. HC

    Very interesting page. I very much believe in the idea of linking weight gain to emotional issues rather than just talking about calories-in and calories out. (somewhat unfortunate that some comments have links to pages that may only perpetuate the yo-yo dieting madness)

  22. Paulina Jenkins

    It is just a hassle trying to count calories. I don’t think anyone like to go thro’ life keeping track of every thing that goes into one’s mouth. It’s so much easier to stay with fresh healthy food choices! This has worked for me – no sugary, fried or fatty foods but plenty of vegetables, fruits and lean meat! And of course plenty of water!

    Paulina Jenkins’s last blog post..Myrrh As Alternative Medicine

  23. HC

    Paulina, yes, I agree with your approach… but you will laugh… I get toooo skinny when I stick to that plan and then that becomes a problem… either too much or not enough weight, it’s more about emotional and physical balance for me. If you have some hints on how to attain this let me know!

  24. HC

    Being too skinny is as bad as being too fat, psychologically anyway. It’s just the flip side of the same negative emotions so I don’t encourage anyone to go there. I am not joking; that bad feeling you have when you know you are heavier than you should be, or that you are bingeing or eating to fill an emontional need, you feel AS BAD when you are underweight and have such an incredible control over everything that passes your lips that you start thinking food is a negative thing. I don’t think it’s about being over- or under-weight, I think it’s about about finding emotional and psychological health or balance so that you only make healthy decisions for yourself. I have been 47kg, and I have been 67 Kg… all I know is that I am happiest and healthiest somewhere in between.

  25. isabella mori

    HC, thanks for stopping by.

    re the link to sites that seem to perpetuate the madness. i have to be honest, i struggle every time i see such a link and have actually indirectly referred to that in this post. however, dialogue and different points of view are important on this blog so if someone has something worthwhile to say, i welcome it here.

    i cannot tell you how much i agree with you regarding the physical and emotional balance. and they influence each other so much! i have to confess that right now, i’m in one of my (thankfully never too long-lasting) phases where i don’t move enough. that packs on the pounds for me like there’s no tomorrow, and it’s not good for my emotional health.

  26. keith

    There are many well thought out truths in this article. Weightloss and weightgain is a serious issue. Sustained weight loss as everybody knows and almost nobody follows can only be obatined by controlling the appetite, and exercising to burn up the calories in your “fatbank”

  27. isabella mori

    @keith – from my reading of the research, i don’t think it’s ENTIRELY clear that calories in / calories out is the ONLY factor in weight loss but one would be foolish, of course, to ignore it and i’m sure for most people it’s the biggest factor.

    another factor is metabolism. we all know people who are rail thin, it lots of food, and never gain an ounce. indeed, one of the reasons why exercise is so good is because it increases metabolism.

    @paulina stress is definitely a factor. again, to what degree it is an indirect factor as you mention – eating to deal with stress – and to what degree it is a direct factor, where it slows down the metabolism, is not entirely clear. my suspicion is that since everyone’s body chemistry is a bit different and hence metabolism is different, that stress has a varying effect on metabolism, as well.

    i have great hopes that the fields of nutrigenomics and metabolomics will do much to enlighten this in the years to come.

  28. Paulina Jenkins

    Exercise certainly helps to boost your metabolic rate. I believe everything in moderation is the way to go. If you are too strict with your diet you can go too far. I for one can vouch that exercise has played a big part in helping me to maintain my weight.

    Paulina Jenkins’s last blog post..Cleavers As Alternative Medicine

  29. suzanne

    Hector, this portion is a transdermal all natural weight loss patch, one with 5hp – a seritonin leveler, that you just put on for 24 hours. There is a diet and personal help with it, if you would like, but some cannot do that until the energy boost it gives many, kick in. I tried to answer you – but eeach time I click it goes to another spot. Since this is the case, the best bet, before clicking back and writing, check out a weekly call that is recorded live every monday, and on 24/7 that is kept updated Tuesday to Tuesday. Listen to #1, and # 2- this is by an author on dieting and nutrition and this patch is recomended by her also. It tells why. Would love to hear from you and take more time to help. there are so many things to help your diet too. Baked foods, dill pickles, and yes, even frenches mustard!

  30. suzanne

    oops! the Number! ( mine is on my site ) that I spoke of above and will also send you what is recomended with individual goals or situations if you request… 512-703-8008.

    Thank You

  31. suzanne

    An additional comment on excersize and dieting and overweight. It can be yo-yo, it can be dangerous. I not only had the problem but used to sell insurance and the horror stories connected to fads and desparatness were overwhelming. Had my doctor not put me on this, I would not have tried it. It works by thermogenisis which is what excersize does, and what most diets erase. This is done by an ingredient combination which includes forslean which has its own site. It preserves the lean muscle that diets take away, that excersize enhances and permits it to work as though you were in excersise mode were in effect, that is, it enhances motabolism, with chromemate which curbs the cravings , control appitite and is backed by clinical studies. It burns fat. I will be happy to send a before and after picture and any more you would like to see, yet seems to be no way to upload it here, or attach. I not only lost 43 pounds, but went from size 12 to 6 in a very healthy way. Because it is so helpful to those and myself that I used to talk to and were too great of a risk to insure, I now find great reward in helping others in this way.

  32. suzanne

    Writing again. Studied a bit more too, to explain. first, do want to say that growing up I was overweight, then even went later into anorexia, before they knew the term. Depression in and out, being called lard bucket was no fun!Ha!
    I am using quotes for the most part, concerning the fatloss patch, or what they would like to rename the will power patch. although many use it to just stay young and active, most are drawn to it because diets don’t work… for long. that is why it’s called a battle. i call it the fat wrestler that fights for you! It is a complexity of things, like depression. The similarites of what was asked of me much earlier, of experinceing medicine and therapy etc., and what is related to it all is as depression, can be is an hormonal imballance, stress, follow through, and this just very much helps. It’s not as simple as calories in are calories on, or visa versa. metabolic rate which occurs with exersise and the patch as if; keeps the lean muscle while getting rid of the fat storage places like the hormone insulin, and Leptibn. Thyroid, estrogen also hormones out of ballance can cause a mirad of meladies. This occures in depression. Insulin blockage due to stress, or white foods, greasy foods, estrogen with elderly and teenagers.. whow, in phychiatry begins to play with your whole person. It is nice to know there is something out there that helps line these up and gives you the sence of self accomplishment and therapy, all go along with it if needed. it doesn’t effect that, improves the chances in my experience and others. Food can self medicate too. This can go after some of the problems instead of the results of years of what we can do to ourselves by not eating right, or having the time to eat and excersize right. It actually helps you want to and lose those cravings. It helps even the fats stored in the liver which can cause a less youthfull apearance -premature aging. it is all coincinding with a ballance of chemistry and hormones, eating better and Lifestyle. If you ate more protien for breakfast, you actually increase by 25% your chances? Drop ketchup and microwaved foods, and aspertame and sodas. Leptin actually tells you when your body has had enough. When we can’t listen to that, thyroid and insulin intollerance from overload shuts the door until we help with reopening it for weight loss to occur safely. Whew! It really helped me, and that is something I wanted to tell others about. I don’t “know how electricity works, I flip a switch and the light goes on, I don’t know the routes it took to get there, the speed, the genius, I just flipped the switch and electricity worked” I didn’t know the patch was out there. It is and it worked for me. wishing you wellness-

  33. Chris

    Great article! The key is being healthy… not looking a certain way or weighing a certain amount. IF the diet you are on makes you unhealthy, then it’s not a good diet. Plain and simple!

  34. suzanne

    Thanks Chris, being, getting healty is right on- and even when you don’t FEEL that way, it’s more tough. Attitude, you can think yourself thin or fat and get depressed, or choose to picture what you were or want to be, not comparing, but aiming and it helps you get there, doesn’t it!! You almost have to say,a nd know: this is where I am right now. It’s okay, because that doesn’t have to be what I will always be, you think?

  35. Therma Cuts

    Thank you for this article. I want be healthy and realize that I had bad diet. I must change it very fast. You help very very much with this stuff. I am very grateful.

  36. Suzanne

    Therma and Chris, thank you for your kind words. This is good therapy, isn’t it? Don’t pressure yourself. Being active in this and realizing change is needed is already stepping out and moving on your goals. you can pat yourself on the back for that. I needed what you both said too. Thank You very much.

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