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.

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

  1. 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!

    Isaac

  2. 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!

    Isaac

  3. 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?

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. “There are lots of men who have weight issues, too. Because of cultural factors, these tend to be hidden รขโ‚ฌโ€œ 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

  18. “There are lots of men who have weight issues, too. Because of cultural factors, these tend to be hidden รขโ‚ฌโ€œ 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

  19. @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 … ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  20. @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 … ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

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