Please understand. This hurts so much.

We can all be judgemental at times and some of the saddest judgement I’ve seen is from people who are obese towards people who may only be a few kilograms or pounds overweight. I’ve even heard people say “Oh get a life! You don’t know what being overweight is!”

Let me paint a picture for you of a woman in her mid fifties. She is happily married, has a couple of grown up children, a couple of grandchildren, has had a successful career which she has chosen to give up to care for her Dad who is really ill, she’s always been a healthy 59kgs (9 stone) and has never found exercise an issue. Then after a couple of years her Dad dies. Suddenly this woman has lost her sense of purpose, she is grieving desperately, does not know what to do with her days and is reminded every moment that she is alone in the house that her beloved Dad is no longer with her. The pain can be overwhelming and many people in this situation find the weight creeps on. 2 years later and her husband is moaning “you’ve let yourself go”, the kids only need her when the grandchildren need babysitting and it’s too late to go back to her career. On top of it all, she feels fat, hates her body and everything hurts.

This is a horrendously frightening and desperate time. Would you still feel so judgemental? Our judgement often changes dramatically when we simply give that person a safe space to open up and feel supported.

Every overweight person feels that awful sense of judgement. If you don’t like it, don’t do it to others.

Weight loss behaviour is Ironic!

Can you relate to these examples?

The woman who is desperate to find the love of her life. She feels she is overweight and not attractive. All she wants to do is lose weight but….. her lack of confidence, perceived rejections (it can only be because I’m fat!) and hatred for that roll on her belly make her so depressed that she deals with the depression by drinking loads of wine and overeating.

The person who is always exhausted, stressed, in pain and has no quality of life. They know that if they lose weight, eat better and get regular exercise, they will feel much better but….. the exhaustion makes them turn to the quick and easy ready made meals and takeaways.

You catch an unintended glimpse of yourself in a shop window. The sight takes your breath away, you wonder if it’s really you and realise this was never your plan for yourself. You feel dejected, sad, overwhelmed and you pop into a shop then go home and drink a bottle of wine and the whole tub of ice cream you just bought.

Isn’t it strange? We do the opposite of what we really want to do which holds us in that awful cycle which we feel we can never escape.

The exciting thing is, you only need to lose 1lb to change it all!

Leave me on my pity potty!!

Before I became a counsellor, I used to think my life story was unusually bad. I thought it was pretty dramatic and awful and that few others would have been through what I’ve been through. Since becoming a counsellor, I’ve realised that the vast majority of the population have been through trauma, hurt, rejection, unhappy childhoods, loss, physical and mental illness and to be honest, some of the stories I’ve heard have been horrendous! My story pales in comparison. I’ve discovered there are very few people who have had the idyllic childhood and life that social media likes to pretend they have.

We all need to be really heard and understood. Expressing our emotions and talking about the past is healing and allows us to clear the slate to move forward in a more emotionally healthy way. But staying in what has happened to you is disempowering, removes your purpose for living and keeps you stuck. As a treasured friend once told me, “Don’t sit on your pity potty too long, you’ll get welts“. Sympathy encourages you to stay in a position of inactivity where empathy says, I hear you, I feel your pain, but now it’s time to move forward – let me help you.

I’m just greedy….

I cannot tell you how many times this has been said to me by clients over the years. I simply don’t buy it.

Nobody becomes overweight because they are greedy. Yes you may overeat, but if you overeat, there is always a reason. It may be learned behaviour, it may be a lack of education about what good food is, it may be hormonal, it may be medical, it may be for deep seated psychological reasons, but there is ALWAYS a reason why the overeating started in the first place. If you can figure out the reason, you can come up with a solution.

What do you think your reason is / was?

Please like me…….

Let me ask you a question. Think of 10 people you know, perhaps at work, and decide how many of them you really like, how many are just acquaintances and how many you quietly don’t really like. I’m guessing there’s a few you are not that keen on.

Now ask yourself if you want everyone to like you? Well of course we would all like to be incredibly well liked but look at Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama. Even they polarise people. It’s simply not human nature to like everyone.

Accept the fact that not everybody is going to like you and that’s ok. Put your energy into building the good relationships and don’t waste any trying to please people who no matter what, will never give you back the positive energy that friendship requires.

I’m so bored ……Give me Food!

Isn’t it strange that we often associate relaxing and taking time out with a compulsion for food? When we are busy at work, looking after the family, doing shopping, paying bills etc, its all left brain logical activity. As soon as that stops, we feel this weird, uncomfortable emptiness.

We need stimulation but a great thing to do is to fill that space with right brain activity which is anything creative; drawing, painting, sewing, music, poetry. If you’ve ever wondered why hypnotherapists use a pendulum, its to balance the left and right brain activity which immediately makes us feel relaxed.

Help me stop the eating frenzy!!!

Learn how to deal with your emotions in a healing way. Here are some suggestions;

Write in a journal. You can simply use smiley face type entries or keep detail such as where you are / who you are with / what’s happening / what are you feeling. Over time you will recognise patterns.

Go for a 10 minute walk. When we are feeling emotionally distressed, we crave carbs (when did you last crave fish or vegetables?) because it takes 7 seconds for the effect to go from our mouth to our brain. Exercise is the only other thing that stimulates the feel good endorphins the same way.

Have a bubble bath and read a good book.

Talk about your feelings to an emotionally supportive person.

Sit with the feelings and do slow deep breathing.

Do something creative like a puzzle.

Listen to your favourite empowering song …. preferably very loud….and dance!

I am a Comfort eater.

Looking at this logically, if you eat to comfort yourself, you can never lose weight. It’s an absolute guarantee that for the rest of your life, you are going to experience uncomfortable emotions and if you eat something to mask those emotions every time, you are pretty likely to get bigger.

The solution is;

– Recognise the difference between emotional and physical hunger
– Become “aware” of emotional hunger (awareness is the first step to healing)
– Find strategies to deal with the emotions.

How do you feel reading this? Can you relate?

How can I get the ooomph to get started? It feels too hard.

Some people sit for years at that point of “I really want to lose weight” to actually doing something about it.

I have found a really great way to cross that threshold is to write down everything you hate / dislike about being the weight you are. The physical, the medical, the emotional, the practical, the spiritual…be really brave and express it. For some it’s a simple 5 minute list, but for others its a long, painful but cathartic exercise. It brings us out of denial and forces us to uncomfortably face reality. I even urge people to take a front and side photo in their underwear and simply look at it for a few minutes and allow all the feelings to flow. Have a good cry, rant, temper tantrum and ok, eat cake!, but process those feelings and let them go.

The benefits; this frees you from all the self loathing that has been making you turn to food, in terms of Transactional Analysis, it brings you from a Child state to an Adult state (which is where we need to be to beneficially change), and your list becomes a projection of meaningful goals. Let me know if this helps you!

I didn’t expect this!

As human beings, we are comfortable with the status quo. Change of any sort increases anxiety which is often the adrenaline rush we need to get out of our comfort zone.

Most people who decide to lose weight have thought about it and planned it for days, weeks or sometimes years. The people closest to them often haven’t and are suddenly confronted with a positive, strong, independent person who they don’t really know. It forces a change in the dynamics of the relationship. Sadly this often results in husbands, mothers and best friends unconsciously sabotaging your efforts. Think of the parent who keeps telling you that you need to lose weight but then offers you cake when you cry. Or the best friend who tells you that you are no fun anymore because you don’t want to get drunk with her every weekend. Or the husband who feels jealous and threatened by his now very sexy wife who is dressing in close fitting dresses instead of baggy blacks.

You will need to be really strong, understanding and resilient to push past it all!