Tag Archives: fat

Does Loving Yourself Lead to Weight Loss?

love yourself

(This article first appeared in The Huffington Post)

I’ll bet that you’ve heard that you must first love yourself to lose weight. So many of us hate being overweight, even hate ourselves for it, and we think that we need to lose weight to be able to like ourselves. But we’re told that we have it backwards, that to lose weight, we need to first love ourselves the way we are. Well, how is that possible when you don’t like yourself or if you hate yourself and what you’ve made of your life? How can you just decide, “I love me!” when everything inside you says it’s a lie? It’s impossible.

I don’t remember who first told me that I had to love myself the way I was, to love my fat body, as it was, in order to get better. It seemed crazy. She told me to hug my enormous thigh and say “I love you, thigh.” How could I do that? I hated it.

Soon after we are born, we discover that we must “measure up” to be OK, to be praised and rewarded. Often, when we don’t, we are scolded and punished. Then, later, we discover that to be accepted by our peers, we have to be a certain way, act a certain way, and look a certain way. Otherwise, we are rejected, or worse, teased and tormented. If we are good at “making the grade”, we are showered with acceptance and love, and assisted in life. If we don’t, we are punished by parents and teachers, and rejected, teased and tormented by our peers. Instead of being loved, we are not only disliked, but hated -scorned. We get abused rather than showered with affection and given opportunity and assistance by those in our world.

This is the system most of us learn. It is “the way things work” that we learn to deal with, and it never occurs to us to change it. How could we? It’s reality. It’s the way the world works.

So, we adopt this system ourselves. We judge everything we encounter, and if it measures up, we accept it. If it doesn’t, we reject it. If it’s really wonderful, we love it and shower it with praise and whatever we can give it. If it’s awful, we treat it with scorn, withhold our love, and maybe even trash it, kick it to the curb. This is how we regard everyone and everything we encounter. This is the way we think and treat everything in our lives — including ourselves.

It is the unusual person who encounters something ugly and rotten and hugs it, who forgives those who have committed the sins of our society. We want to punish! Sure, there are those who preach about loving our enemies and forgiving those who have committed the worst sins, but nobody except saints takes that seriously. Those who break the rules and fail to live up to our standards deserve to be scorned and punished. That’s just the way it is. They deserve it. And in our culture that worships physical beauty and success, there is hardly anything worse than a big fat failure. And that’s what I was at age 33 at 320 pounds, a diet failure for 25 years.

The weight loss industry preys on people who hate being overweight and often hate themselves for failing to fix it. Most people believe that the way to earn their self-respect and like themselves is to correct this flaw, to lose the weight and become a weight loss success. Then they would be able to like themselves. And this idea is promoted and accepted. And the truth is that it is wonderful to become successful at it. You feel so much better about yourself. It can’t be denied. However, to maintain the belief you must succeed in order to be OK and lovable, that only success and beauty should be loved while ugliness and failure should be hated, is a trap. It’s a trap I was caught in until I changed what I believed.

The problem is, we don’t take good care of things we hate. We throw them out, or under the bus. However, we bend over backwards to take care of the things we love. If we have an adorable little puppy that we love, we give it everything it needs and more. We lavish it with love and toys. But if we are given a snarling mangy stray to take care of, we are more apt to take it to the pound and leave it. That’s the way we’ve become. It’s normal. It doesn’t make us the devil, but the truth is, we don’t help things we hate recover from whatever affliction they suffer. When we confront ourselves and our faults and failures, we tend to hate. We are more apt to beat ourselves up or let ourselves go without what we need to get better.

If we are to thrive and get better, to recover from our flaws and failures, we need to be nurtured and helped, not neglected and abused. That loving behavior has to come from a conscious decision to be loving and forgiving when confronting those things that are not beautiful and successful, instead of judging and punishing. That doesn’t mean that you let the mangy stray sleep in your bed and bite you, but that you realize there is probably a reason it’s the way it is and you start treating it right instead of abusing it, and you see that it gets what it needs to thrive. That means that you make a conscious decision to not only be loving and forgiving to others, but to yourself as well, to love yourself like the puppy, not because you earned it, but because it needs it to be OK, because you need it to be OK.

In my early thirties, I had failed so many times at permanent weight loss that I gave up on the idea. I left that dream behind. But then I bought into this way of thinking that embraced love and forgiveness instead of judging and punishing. I decided that not only others needed to be loved regardless of their conditions, but that I also was worthy of that consideration, even though a big fat failure. I decided to love that body, the poor thing, and be kind about my faults and failures instead of mad and mean. Coincidently, I started being able to make changes and get better.

It’s been 30 years now since I lost my excess 140 pounds, which is a wonderful thing. But I’ve come to know that the more important change I’ve made is the way I think and the way I am on the inside. The outside counts for something, but it’s not the end-all, be-all, and often times we can’t change those conditions we find ourselves in. What makes us better is deciding to love ourselves no matter what. We need that. And when we do that, sometimes we open the door to miracles.

Read my book and maybe a miracle will open for you!

Is Food Addiction Keeping You From Losing Weight?

(First published in The Huffington Post)Corpulent Woman Having Addiction to Unhealthy Food

Have you ever thought of yourself as a food addict? If so, you are not alone.

Ask yourself these questions:

1) Do you find yourself craving and eating certain foods even though you’re not physically hungry?

2) Have you tried to have just a bit of something like ice cream or chips and find that you can’t stop, sometimes eating the whole box or bag?

3) Do you think about food constantly?

4) Do you try to cut back or abstain from overeating, repeatedly fail, and feel guilty or ashamed because of it?

5) Are there times when “too much is not enough” and you just can’t get enough?

6) Does your overeating cause you significant problems, yet you continue to do it, and can’t help yourself?

7) Does your eating get worse if you are stressed, anxious, angry or hurt?

8) Do you often feel angry or anxious if you try to limit your eating?

If you answered “yes” to more than a couple of these questions, you are like most of the clients who have come to me for help to lose weight. Like me, they had been told that diet and exercise were the answer to their weight problem. However, they just could not get themselves to diet and exercise for very long, if at all, before going back to their old ways. If they were able to lose a significant amount of weight, it wasn’t long before they put it back on.

Relax. You’re normal. You’re OK. But you might be a food addict.

In fact, it’s normal to be a food addict in America. Approximately 70 percent of us are overweight and 35 percent of us are clinically obese. And it’s not like we want to be. If fact, we spend billions on weight loss because we hate it. Yet we are still overweight and it’s getting worse.

In addiction counseling, there are often disputes with clients about whether or not they are an addict when they swear they are not. When I first started treating addictions, before I solved my own food and weight problem, an old alcohol counselor gave me his definition of an addict: An addict is a person who, when they indulge, it causes problems, yet they continue to indulge.

You see, if a person is normal and mentally healthy, and they find that some behavior is causing big problems in their life, they just stop, or change it so it no longer causes problems. For example, if you discovered that you were suddenly allergic to shellfish or peanuts and got sick every time you had it, you’d stop eating whatever you were allergic to. You don’t keep touching a hot stove.

But addicts don’t stop. They keep drinking or using even when it costs them their job, family and health, even when they try their hardest to stop. They keep smoking even when they know its damaging their lungs, even after they’ve tried to quit dozens of times. That’s the “insanity” and power of addiction. It prevents a person from stopping something they know is killing them. They are powerless. And often the addiction clouds their mind so they live in denial. I had a smoker on oxygen once tell me, “it’s not that bad” when we were talking about his COPD. An alcoholic told me he only had a “touch” of cirrhosis. I had one in jail on his third DUI tell me his drinking was really not a problem. If they were in their right minds and able to exercise their will and self-preservation instincts, they’d quit those addictions in a heartbeat. Normally, if you find that something you do is ruining your life and happiness, you stop. But addictions have a power over a person’s will and even their insight.

In America, we have a food addiction problem. It’s exacerbated by a culture that is in denial about it. We promote eating as a pastime and as a form of entertainment and important part of socializing and networking. We’ve convinced ourselves that enormous portions are normal and that overindulging is lighthearted fun. Meanwhile, the fact is that it is killing us.

I grew up overweight and spent years failing at diets. Like 35 percent of us I was obese, actually way more than obese, and I had every one of those behaviors I listed at the beginning of the article. I often joked about being addicted to Doritos and Oreos, but it was not until I started working with addicts and studying addictions and how to treat them that I realized I really was a food addict. And treating my problem as an addiction with behavior therapy finally solved my weight problem.

If you are a food addict, the routine approach using diets and exercise is not going to solve your problem. Neither will surgery. They won’t change what has to be changed because yours is not a weight problem. It’s a behavior problem, an addiction problem. And it won’t get fixed until you treat it as such.