Tag Archives: counseling

Is Obesity Acceptable?

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© OBESITY ACTION COALITION.
(First published in The Huffington Post)

Last week, an article in the Washington Post announced a new program of the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) to fight obesity bias. They want the media to change from portraying obesity in a negative unflattering light, which they are known to do. They want the media to use more positive images when portraying obese people and the OAC is providing them with free stock images to use when showing obese people. The photo with this article is an example of one of these images. As OAC’s James Zervios points out, the headless bodies with plates of junk food often used in the media promote a false stereotype about overweight people that is abusive as well as untrue. Many overweight people are hard-working citizens who eat healthy foods and are attentive to their health needs. They are not fat, lazy and stupid, an image the media is used to promoting.

At the same time there is a fat-acceptance movement you may have heard of that also fights bias and discrimination against overweight people and promotes acceptance of the condition as well as the people who have it.

In the Washington Post article, Zervios maintains that “Obesity is a disease whose sufferers are no different from those afflicted with breast cancer or asthma”. This leads many to take the position that there is nothing that can be done about it, and that people who are overweight should accept it.

Is Obesity Something we should Accept?

I am a clinical member of both the Obesity Action Coalition and The Obesity Society, an association of health professionals that treat obesity and its related medical conditions. I am also a behavioral therapist who solved my own 25-year obesity problem and helps others to do the same.

While I am a staunch supporter of efforts to fight obesity bias and discrimination, I disagree completely with Zervios’s position that obesity is a disease no different from breast cancer and asthma. Obesity can be reversed. By adopting habits of eating less, obese people lose weight and lose the medical problems they have because of it. It is not a matter of “perhaps” it can change. It will change, no if’s and’s or but’s. Cancer and asthma have no similar guaranteed way to get rid of the condition.

While creating change in habitual and addictive behavior can be difficult and complex, it can be done. There is no guarantee that the person can easily change, but it can be done. Like it is with alcohol and drug abuse, when the behavior changes, the problems caused by the behavior resolve. In 30 years, I have never had a patient not lose weight when they are able to eat less.

I and thousands of my patients, clients and readers have reversed our obesity and the medical complications of it. Please don’t let people think that being overweight and sick with it is acceptable. Don’t let them think that getting better is beyond their control. They need not be ashamed or abused because of it, but they need not stay overweight either. There is a sure-fire way to reverse the condition, unlike cancer and asthma.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He solved his own long-time weight problem, losing 140 pounds 30 years ago and has kept it off since. He is the author of The Anderson Method.

Why are women losing the battle of the bulge?

BY ALLIE SHAH
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Frances Traphagan has been battling weight issues her whole life.

For years, the south Minneapolis mom struggled to balance work demands and motherhood. After every pregnancy, her weight problem grew. Her habit of eating on the run also tipped the scales in the wrong direction.

Finally, at 240 pounds, the 5-foot-3 Traphagan chose to have bariatric surgery at the Hennepin Bariatric Center and Obesity Program at Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis.

“It was my very last effort to try to lose weight,” she said.

She’d tried everything before that – from Weight Watchers to the Atkins diet to the grapefruit diet.

“I did have some success, but nothing was ever permanent,” she said.

After a national report this summer showed that women have surpassed men in obesity rates, doctors and obesity researchers are searching for answers to why women are struggling more than men.

For the first time, more than 40 percent of U.S. women are obese, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The nation as a whole continues to struggle with obesity, with 35 percent of men considered obese. But while men’s obesity rates appear to have stabilized, women’s are still rising, the CDC report shows.

Dr. Maria Collazo-Clavell, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic who works with overweight and obese patients, has been working in the obesity research field for 20 years. She said the recent findings give her pause about whether public health officials are taking the right approach to tackling obesity.

“All of that makes you question: Are you on the right track?” she said. “The data would say no.”

That so many women are obese is cause for alarm not only because of the increased health risks for them but also for those around them, Collazo-Clavell said.

“That’s kind of the tip of the iceberg,” she said. Women are often the primary caregivers in a family, and their eating and activity habits can influence their children and others in their family.

An example of that ripple effect: Collazo-Clavell is starting to see some of her previous patients’ children and is working with them to help manage their obesity.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what is causing women to struggle more with obesity than men, but doctors say there likely are many factors at play.

Women typically have two times in their lives when they are at risk of gaining significant amounts of weight: childbearing (during pregnancy and after giving birth) and menopause.

Collazo-Clavell hears from many new mothers that they find meal planning and preparation tough after giving birth. Also of concern, she notes that women as a group are going into pregnancy heavier than they were 20 years ago.

It makes it harder to manage a healthy pregnancy weight if they’re already overweight, she said.

An epidemic

One of the country’s leading health problems, obesity can lead to serious diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.

Body mass index (BMI) is calculated by dividing weight (in kilograms) by height squared (in centimeters). Anyone with a BMI of 25 or more is considered overweight, while those with a BMI of 30 or more are obese.

For example, a woman of average height in the U.S. (5 feet 4) would be classified as obese if she weighs at least 175 pounds. An average height American man (5 feet 9) who weighs 203 pounds or more would be considered obese.

Dr. Guilford Hartley is medical director of the Hennepin Bariatric Center and Obesity Program, where 100 surgeries for weight management are performed each year.

He sees many more female patients than men. Part of the reason, he said, is that women are more likely to seek medical treatment for a weight issue than men.

“In our culture, when a man’s overweight, nobody pays too much attention,” he said. “But we have such an emphasis on being thin for women that we’re culturally forcing women to be more concerned about their weight than men. The social pressure if you’re overweight and a woman is higher.”

Those seeking surgery often have struggled with a weight problem for a long time.

“Usually by the time I see them, most of them get here saying, ‘I’ve done this all my life. This is my sixth yo-yo,’” he said.

He found the recent CDC report on obesity rates concerning. “Up until these reports, it was looking as if the so-called obesity epidemic was kind of plateauing.”

In analyzing the new data, Hartley and Collazo-Clavell point to societal changes that have led people to become more sedentary.

“If you were a clerical person, 20 years ago you’d have to get up and put the piece of paper in the file cabinet. Now you never have to get up off your chair,” Hartley said. “We have engineered … physical activity out of our workplace and out of our home place.”

The prescription of “eat less and exercise more” does not address the kind of vigorous activity needed to tip the scales.

“When we tell them to exercise more, we mean get on a treadmill for an hour, three days a week,” he said. “And the kind of exercise that it takes to have a significant impact on weight is more like if you’re a hardscrabble farmer and you’re working up a sweat for eight hours a day just to put food on the table.”

Constant fight

It’s been 10 years since Traphagan had a surgical band wrapped around her stomach to make it smaller. The band makes it possible to consume only 1.5 cups of food at a time. But it’s still possible to overeat, she said, which is why she had to learn how to eat healthfully to control her weight.

Today, she has poached eggs instead of doughnuts for breakfast and drinks plenty of ice water throughout the day. She has maintained a healthy weight.

“It’s been real hard, though. It’s not easy,” she said.

“I got down to 155 pounds. My goal weight is 124. I’m still working on that, and I hope to achieve that this year.”

(This article first appeared in: http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/health-care/article95803902.html)

40% of U.S. Women Are Now Obese

(First published in Time.com)

by Alexandra Sifferlin

New numbers show obesity in the United States are high, especially among women

The number of Americans who are overweight or obese continues to reach shocking highs, with some estimates that more than two-thirds of American adults are now overweight or obese. Now, a new study reveals that while obesity rates in men have plateaued, rates have continued to rise among women.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA, reveals that for the years 2013-2014, the obesity prevalence was 35% for men and 40% for women. When looking at trends over time, the researchers found that from the year 2005 to 2014 there were significant and steady increases in the number of American women who were very obese.

Another study also published Tuesday in JAMA by many of the same researchers revealed that over the last 25 years, there has been a slight increase in obesity among young people ages 12 to 19. The prevalence of obesity among kids ages 2 to 5 has gone down, and it has leveled off in kids ages 6 to 11.

“The obesity epidemic in the United States is now three decades old, and huge investments have been made in research, clinical care, and development of various programs to counteract obesity. However, few data suggest the epidemic is diminishing,” Dr. Jody W. Zylke, the deputy editor of JAMA and Dr. Howard Bauchner, the Editor in Chief of JAMA, wrote in a corresponding editorial.

To reach the findings, study authors from the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at 2013-2014 data for 2,638 adult men and 2,817 adult women. They also looked at national survey data from 21,013 people who were interviewed from 2005 through 2012.

The number of adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, which is considered high-risk obesity, was 7.7%. For men specifically it was 5.5% and for women it was 9.9%. BMI is not a perfect measure of health and is based on a person’s weight and height ratio rather than their actual amount of body fat. Still, the numbers are in line with what other studies have reported regarding the state of the obesity epidemic in the United States.

In the editorial, Zylke and Bauchner argue that progress over the last 30 years has been far too slow, and that new methods may need to be adopted: “Perhaps it is time for an entirely different approach, one that emphasizes collaboration with the food and restaurant industries that are in part responsible for putting food on dinner tables,” they write.

All bodies matter: How body-shaming makes America less healthy

 

BodyShaming_BlogFeature-1024x585The cure to the obesity epidemic, most doctors say, is a nutritious diet and exercise. But many health-care workers say that solution ignores the role of emotional and mental well-being play in maintaining a healthy weight.

By Chandra Johnson
May 26, 2016

William Anderson was about 7 when he first experienced fat shaming.

It was 1956, and he was in the second grade in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was Valentine’s Day, he recalls, and his teacher brought in a cake for everyone in class — except him.

“I’d really been looking forward to it and of course, I couldn’t have any,” Anderson said.

Anderson doesn’t remember how much he weighed then, but it was enough for his pediatrician to put him on a special diet. All that did was give him a lousy relationship with food.

“That was the beginning of the problem for me because food became a lot more important to me,” said Anderson, now 66. “From then on, my whole sense of self was dominated by being overweight and being an outcast because of it.”

Click here to read the whole story published in The Deseret News.

 

 

Quitters CAN Be Winners

(First published in The Huffington Post)

I’m sure you’ve heard these famous sayings:

“Never, never, never give up.” ― Winston Churchill

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” – Vince Lombardi

Whenever I heard those words as a young person, it always made me sick. They were famous sayings by famous men, repeated over and over, as if they should inspire people. But it never helped me to hear those things when I was on the verge of quitting. It just made me feel bad about myself. It made me think I must be a loser. The winners were putting me down. I was a quitter and I wanted very much to be a winner, but when the going got tough, I just could not keep going. I was weak. And it would make me sick when I heard those things, or even thought them.

They were wrong.

I’ve discovered that all winners have failed and given up, quit, many times. What turns losers into winners is not that they never quit, but that they got up and dusted themselves off after recovering, and went at it again. They persisted.

All winners have failed and quit many times. All winners have been quitters.

Think of all of us as babies, learning to crawl and walk. We try to stand, and we fall. Over and over again. There is no shame. There is just the excitement that first time, when we finally stay up and tower over everything. Then we fall. Hee, hee.

With enough practice and repetitions, we learn to walk. No one learns to walk without falling many times, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of times. This is how we all learned to win, how you learned to win. This is you. A winner.

But then, somewhere along the line, we got the idea that failing was bad. At home or at school, we started noticing that others would laugh or put us down if we were not good at something. Or we would mistakenly believe that we should be able to do something well instantly, and we’d be hurt if we did not. We thought there was something wrong with us. We’d be hurt and ashamed. We learned that the way to not get hurt was to quit, and not try again.

As babies, there was no shame in falling. It was fun, just part of the process. When we got tired, we quit, and rested. All was good. And then we tried again. Eventually, we walked and then we ran. Nothing could stop us. But then we learned to be ashamed, to be disappointed, expecting instant success and not getting it. We learned to stop trying when we failed.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. The first time I heard this, my brain revolted. It was the opposite of what I had aways heard, that anything worth doing was worth doing well. It was a famous coach who flipped this for me and it took a while to sink in and for me realize it was true.

He was talking about his kids wanting to be musicians and discovering that when they picked up the instrument and tried to make music, it was absolutely awful. It hurt your ears. And the kids, making fun of each other, saying they stunk, wanted to quit. They thought that they should be successful right away.

But we know that to do anything well, especially something difficult, you have to start out by doing it badly, failing, and when you get tired, you throw it down and quit, because it is so painful. But then, after a while, if you pick it up again, you learn more and get a little better. And you keep doing this until you succeed, as long as you persist in the work.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” – William Edward Hickson

This is the saying that inspired me, that helped. It said that it was normal to fail, that it is OK. Of course, it feels awful to fail. You are deprived of the success you crave, but as long as you’re not dead, you’ll get another shot at it. So, while you are OK if you failed and survived, it is not OK to just sit there, without being OK the way you really need to be.

“As long as you survive, anything is possible” – William Anderson, LMHC

I failed at weight loss for 25 years, thousands of times, and I’d hate to count how many times I quit in tears, swearing I’d never diet again. But after a while, learning more with each failure, I learned “dieting” is not the way to succeed. In my early thirties I lost 140 pounds and I have kept it off for 30 years. It’s a miracle my bad habits didn’t kill me, but I was able to change things before they did.

I had similar experiences with college and in business too, banging my head against the wall, trying to make things work with methods that didn’t work for me, until I would fail and quit, swearing that was the end of trying. But it didn’t kill me, and eventually, after enough of a retreat, I’d try another way, having learned from my last failure. I’m slower than most, but I got my college degree at 40, a graduate degree at 50, and success in business too, after some very painful failures. Fortunately, the repeated defeats never brought me to the point of no return, and my work eventually bore fruit. As long as you are alive and breathing, dreams can come true.

“Part of being successful is knowing when to quit.” — William Anderson, LMHC

Working hard at a method that will not produce the desired result is futile. The old idiom “just keep going and work hard” will not get you where you want to go if you are on the wrong road, going the wrong way. This was the case many times I dieted and many times I signed up for classes or worked a business idea. I didn’t know it when I started out, but I was working a plan that would never work. The only result in persisting in a faulty plan is failure. In that case, quitting the wrong plan is just as important as persisting in the right plan.

“Tomorrow is a new day.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So many times I heard this from my mother when I was young. I would be seeking solace because of some failure, or throwing a tantrum quitting and swearing never to try again at some skill or project. She would encourage me to quit for the day and forget about it. “That’s enough for today. Go to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day.”

Being persistent is not the same thing as not quitting. Persisting is getting up and trying again. To be successful, we need to know when to quit, especially if we’ve been doing something that is destined to fail. We regroup, and then get up and try again after we’ve recovered from our fall. That’s how you learned to walk. That’s how you’ll succeed in other endeavors, as long as you survive. Work the plan, rest safely when you tire, make corrections, and try again. This is how all winners have won, through failing, quitting what doesn’t work, learning, and trying again. That’s persistence.

You are still the creation and spirit you were as the infant that learned to walk. What is it that you would like to accomplish? Weight loss? Better relationships? More success in work and finances? Happiness? There is a way to win, even if you’ve failed in the past, even if you quit and had given up. You may have to rest and remember tomorrow is a new day. You may have to quit a way that does not work. You may have to change some things you haven’t wanted to change.

Believe me, you are a winner. You may have failed and quit in your past, but you have survived. You have succeeded in so many things that you can read or hear what I’ve written here. You have persisted and won. Your true self is a winner. You have what it takes to win. You just need to do what it takes to uncover it.

So, what is it you’d like to win now?