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Whatever you do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.
-- Johann von Goethe
Would you like to start a bonfire and load it with every low-fat, no-carb, nothing-that-tastes-good diet that you have ever tried and then ignite it with all the empty promises to end your weight problems? Go ahead. You don't need them anymore.
Consider this: 167 million men and women in the United States are on a diet at any given moment. If that many people are trying a solution and it doesn't work, something's wrong with the so-called solution.
Contrary to what proponents of expensive diet regimens say, these diets can't work long term, no matter how much willpower you have. Why? Because they are missing essential connections. Even scientists researching weight loss medication acknowledge they will never be able to guarantee the same results with human beings as with animals because the factor of emotions always comes into play.
Your solution, therefore, doesn't lie in the next magic pill or diet, but in your attaining a balance between weight and emotions.
You can attain this balance, but first you'll have to challenge the beliefs you've held about weight loss. Challenging such deeply held beliefs may not be easy. These beliefs have been reinforced by a multi-million dollar diet industry that bases its success on your failure. By convincing you that your past dieting efforts haven't worked because you either haven't tried their plan or haven't had the willpower to remain on it, you've been positioned for the next buy.
Yet look around. How many people do you know who have started these plans and sustained long-term weight loss? Probably not too many. Most gain back all their weight within six months to a year.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
You can't stop weight concerns with a diet and a simple dose of willpower any more than willpower alone would mend a broken leg. The advertisements make you think that almost everyone is successful, and set you up to feel isolated if you are not. But the majority of people are just like you. You need only to look around at the grocery store as you peruse the frozen food aisle, or look at others in any weight-loss program. You're connected to these others who struggle with their weight in ways you may never have imagined. Similarities go far beyond your concern about appearance.
Your challenge today is to put aside old beliefs and look at weight issues differently. Instead of assuming something is wrong with you, assume you have not had a complete package of information.
Connecting to the Source of It All
Your weight can be anchored to situations that you thought that you had dealt with. While you may have moved beyond them because of your own inner strengths, determination, and tendency to put the needs of others before your own, lingering emotions can remain repressed and make you vulnerable to their eruption later. And at that later time, you unfortunately have no connection to when or why they first occurred and are, therefore, less able to do anything about them. That's the scenario that pulls you back to food, no matter how determined you are to stick to a new diet.
Weight problems have a starting place, and going back to that place can help you end them. Often the seeds for weight problems are planted in childhood and grow gradually over the years. These can arise from misperceptions. You may have grown up feeling that you never met your parents' expectations or that you were smothered by their absorption and control in your life, however well intentioned. As one young woman described her relationship, "I didn't know where my mother ended and I began." Or, you may have suffered at the other end of that spectrum, in a home where parents were either absent because of divorce or work, or were physically present but emotionally unavailable.
If you came from an alcoholic or abusive home, your risk of having weight problems is higher because, in emotionally chaotic homes, there may be a strong tendency to mask problems and not own feelings. Eating or not eating could help you distance yourself from the hurt. Growing up, you may have been expected to assume adult roles. You may never have had the chance to be a child. You may have been "the man of the house" or even a surrogate spouse or parent. If you were a child expected to perform in an adult world, you skipped important developmental stages. Typically, children do not function well when they attempt to fill an adult role, and they can suffer emotional harm that follows them into adulthood.
Society can create stress and loss if you were a child who initially was even only a little overweight. Children often ridicule and ostracize the overweight child. Parents, attempting to protect the child, may exert a lot of pressure to lose weight. It does not matter if you are 102 pounds overweight or one. Feeling pressured about weight distorts how you look at your body, setting you up to feel insecure and unhappy.
Sharing Strengths and Hope
Lucy, a successful career woman, began turning to food to fill the gaping hole in her heart when her mother died. Though her family attempted to fill the void, the ten-year-old's life would never be the same. Never again could she pick up the telephone and call Mom when she needed her, never again listen to her laughter, play crazy games with her, or confide important secrets. Relationships in her family also changed. Her father's grief and the stress of being a single parent took him away. The emptiness and loneliness were immense, and Lucy tried to fill them with food.
As she grew older, she also turned to people with the same expectation: that they could take away the loneliness and fill the void left when her mother died. She fell into a pattern of negative relationships with men who appeared emotionally available on the surface but who actually had little to give. She lost herself in jobs that gave her nothing in return, yet she stayed out of a feeling of loyalty and a drive to try harder. The loyalty gave her a false sense of closeness, a feeling she had longed for since her mother died.
increasingly relied on food for solace, with no idea that the answer to her weight problems lay in uncovering their origin. Instead, she tried one diet after another, unsuccessfully, until she realized she had to take the first step in shaking the old albatross: challenging her beliefs, the first of ten steps to freedom.
Ten Steps to Freedom
1. Challenge your old beliefs about yourself, your weight, and problem solving.
2. Take charge to get your past off your plate.
3. Burn your negative self-talk garbage.
4. Identify your feelings and analyze their purpose; then take appropriate actions to care for yourself.
5. Learn where to get control -- and when to let it go.
6. Own, and then let go of your losses.
7. Make anger work for you: Identify how your ideas about anger and rage were shaped by your environment growing up, and learn more effective ways to express yourself today.
8. Recognize the presence of chemical reactions that affect your weight.
9. Choose a strategic plan of eating that meets your unique needs and lifestyle.
10. Review your progress, take note of your changes, and celebrate yourself!
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Beyond Words Publishing. ©2001, 2012.
Body Sense: Balancing Your Weight and Emotions
by Branda Crawford-Clark.
In this book, you're going to learn how to make your weight problems go away, but it won't include traditional crazy diets, miracle cures, and more broken promises. It will include a strategic, body-sensible approach that is packed with information, new tools, and important life connections. You'll be asked to provide a little emotional sweat, but you'll realize an immediate payoff in everyday life. Quite honestly, before you shed the pounds, you will first begin to lose the emotional garbage, the key to sustained weight loss or weight stability. Any other approach is a prescription for futility.
Info/Order this book. (2nd edition)
About the Author
Brenda Crawford-Clark was Florida Counselor of the Year in 1994 and is a nationally board-certified and licensed mental health counselor. In her private practice of eight years, she specializes in such issues as weight, family relations, and transitions. She has been a medical writer for the Tulsa Tribune and contributing editor to Fitness Magazine. Visit her website: http://www.forgetaboutdiets.com