How self talk affects weight loss
weight loss not always about food
When I was in graduate school a friend who had set up several successful weight
loss clinics invited me to observe the
system she had worked out as part of her master's program in
psychology. I didn't know what to expect. I had never thought much
about the problem, which had been growing every year, and in all age groups The problem was hardly mentioned as part of grad-school curriculum, though a psychologicall component in one's weight and correspondending self-esteem and image is clearly a component of mental health.
Obesity is the last frontier for those who denigrate unprotected
victims who eat because of a distorted image of themselves. Every
minority group has been given a voice to register their pain and
discomfort, as well as anger and rage towards those who cannot seem to
understand that it is wrong to discriminate against any unfortunate
group that is different, vulnerable, or unprotected.
Of course, like everyone else, I had heard the fat jokes, jokes about fat farms, and stupid jokes about fat camps for children. On its face, it is not funny but says a good deal about societal ignorance and denial that it hurts anyone. In fact, with the more recent emphasis on health and exercise, if anything the attacks have grown worse and more vile in their intensity.
Until more recently, diets, some extreme and even dangerous, were
the only line of defense for the vast majority who suffered from
obesity. Unless you could afford a stay at a spa in the mountains or
at the beach, diets which seldom produced lasting results were the
rule. If there was exercise, it wasn't considered important. In fact,
most advertisements showed a model with a vibrating belt on the desired
body part using power such as electricity to "vibrate the weight
Later, plastic surgeons and others would set up surgery clinics to reduce fat with a knife. Many surgeons are particular about who gets the surgery and screen carefully, avoiding later complications whereever possible. Even surgery on a healthy person carries some risk of infection or other complication.
Then came lipo- suction
and intestinal surgery. Lipo-suction literally pulls the fatty tissue
out of the body using powerful suction generated through a plastic tube.
Removing a portion of the intestines through surgery leaves very
little space for food, is successful for some, but is dangerous and
unsuccessful for others. I have seen mortality in both procedures and
also success for some who have maintained the weight loss for many
years. Remember, not every choice fits all.
I cannot possibly address the needs of those who are morbidly obese, bedridden, and who require serious intervention by a trained team equipped to work with such problems, or multiple problems revealed in the pathological need of the individual to harm oneself, actually suicide by food, long, painful, and drawn out for everyone involved..
I learned a great deal about obesity from a no nonsence practitioner who believed in the human potential of every human to be thier best. Very little time, in fact was spent on dietary systems in her group sessions, but on family dynamics that provided the rationaile for the destructive behavior..
Many of her clients did not seem overly heavy to my eyes, but they
signed up because they believed they were incredibly fat, ugly, and
unlovable, despite the spousal denial that her feelings of inadequacy
resulted from a lack of love on his part. Most, if not all, the class
she was working with were women, not because men are not obese. I
would suppose they felt uncomfortable opening up their feelings to the
group in the presence of women. Some men avoid their own need to do work in the group by taking care of others, women naturally, though they can be as strong as anyone else.
Twenty five years ago, most men and
society in general, believed men could not deal with feelings as
effectively as women, and while this is still true in many cases, At
the time, it was written in stone. In fact, of the court ordered abusers in my first counselor assignment, I never once observed one cry in group., show overt interest in another's problems, or get past surface talk. some therapists will not work in mixed groups for this reason.
believe these clinics were so successful because my friend never
accepted a poor self image from clients nor did she berate anyone who
had regressed. The focus and primaruy goal was to keep the self-image
positive, not by the amount of weight lost during the week, but in the
changes she recorded in attitude. " change the image and the weight
will take care of itself." was her mantra.It makes sense and it did work in the groups i observed.
She used many techniques to reenforce a positve self-image, including creative visualization, self talk, music, the arts, and helping to establish the goals for each client. she found a coorelation between a positive self-image and the amount of weight loss, as well as success at maintaining the desired weight over a longer period than the end of the class. Students who maintained the weight loss were rewarded with positive recognition. Those struggling to maintan their commmitment, were invited to return at no cost for additional support.
success I observed there helped me to launch my career on a good note
in my first job as a drug and alcohol counsel for court ordered
offenders. I saw the power in groups and the positive efffects of peers to elicit change.
Throughout my career, no matter the challenge, I was always keen on getting clients to use positive reenforcers
for whatever they were trying to deal with. Those who insisted
otherwise inevitably ended in jail, in a locked mental ward, or in
the morgue. Active abusers of drugs or alcohol have similar traits those with eating disorders. Some present with dual disorders such as
food addiction and alcoholism or drug abuse. There is loss of control in both groups and a total loss of spirituality,(not nercessarily church or religion, which is a popular scapegoat for bad behavior).
I have seen many controlling types, obsessive and with a need to look down as a punisher
on those who are impaired or addicted in some way, enter the
counseling field unsuccessfully. If confronted, they could not stand
up under the light of objective scrutiny and easily transitioned into
another less rigerous field of study.It is not the academic area that separated these individuals, however, it is the client confrontation they fear. Their fear of their own unresolved anger, fear they will be found out about their own weaknesses, and the ease with witch they can place their own unresolved issues on those they perceive as weaker or less perfect. Counselors are not directors. Their job is not to tell anyone what to do. All are subject to human frailities and weakness. A man with great wisdom and love for others once admonished a mob intent on stoning an adultress: let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone.
If you as a patient or
client of one of these types feels the heavy hand of their criticism or
you feel controlled.by their anger, leave the session and seek out
another who doesn't need to use clients to deal with his/her unmet
needs, which have nothing to do with you. Many counselors with unresolved issues of their own tend to seek the field of counseling, social work, psychology, nursing, and teaching. Any vocation in which they may control through anger, authority, or working with others who are seen to be in dependent position attracts them, unconsciencely, of course. Some graduate- schools require candidates to seek therapy as a prerequesite before graduation or licensure as a counselor.
This material is subject to the laws of copyright (c) March, 2009. MK