Have you recently thought to yourself, “I need to lose weight”? If so, perhaps you want to know what you could do. The truth is you may know what you could do. You may have a wealth of knowledge and you might have even followed the advice of various experts.
Perhaps you know where you struggle — you start off strong, but struggle to sustain outcomes. This article is written to get you thinking and maybe even curious about translating those thoughts into action while feeling great.
With serious health problems, increased medical costs, epidemic rates of obesity, and a general sense of knowing I “should,” why do so many struggle?
The 50+ million internet articles would like to tell you, or just sell you. It’s hard to know what is true anymore. We now know obesity is a medical condition. The Body Mass Index, a height and weight ratio, has been one measure to define overweight and obesity, though it seems body fat percentages, body’s muscle, bone, fat, water percentages, and bioimpedance metrics are quite common.
We also know there are drugs, procedures, programs, fads, and I tend to think it seems almost anyone can call themselves an expert based on the many tools and services claim they understand. I want you to ask: What is best for your health, happiness, and vitality?
A healthy weight is an important part of health, wellness, and vitality. We have all experienced or know of a family member with weight-related health conditions like high blood pressure, high blood sugars, sleep problems, high cholesterol, pain, depression, anxiety, and hormone dysregulation.
Turns out, there are many reasons to lose weight, including health, wellness, or maybe even someone else that you care about. Yet, even knowing a healthy weight is an import part of health, wellness, and vitality does not equal a lifestyle of healthy choices.
It can be difficult to decide what to do for one reason because they all tell you how fantastic and effective they are. Did you know that the studies have shown that just about any diet can result in weight loss? That when you look at most programs, they address weight loss and management, and include fitness, nutrition, behavior, and some kind of behavioral change?
What most do not point out is the abundance of evidence towards a healthy lifestyle is practicing a whole food, plant-predominant diet with regular physical activity, restorative sleep, and stress management.
Instead we have articles running the gamut on how to lose weight fast, quick, naturally, with this or that eating habit, or this frequency, intensity, time, or type of exercise.
So maybe instead of arguing about how the programs differ, we can unite in what worked for you. I would love to hear what worked, what did not, why, and see if we could use this strength because I believe you have the ability.
At this point it is no wonder that one in three Americans are obese. The media content is confusing. The messaging can stray from the fundamental evidence and maybe at the end of the day it really does not matter who or what works as much as are you meeting your objectives. The good news is that you could treat, prevent, and even reverse your health problems and start feeling well and vibrant. Luckily, change does not have to be drastic.
Diet, exercise, and behavior change are undeniable influences on health. Sure, it matters what you eat, but how and when you eat are equally as important. Knowing what to do versus how to do it are different. Remember all that knowledge does not always translate into action but what you likely do know is it is hard to lose weight and keep the weight off. It is much easier to eat 500 calories than burn off 500 calories.
Losing weight can be confusing, frustrating, and outright difficult. My weight fluctuated from 160 lbs to 240 lbs as a 6’2″ male. At 160 lbs I was training for triathlons and playing tennis six plus hours a day. At 240 lbs I welcomed a bottle of a Napa Cabernet, steak, and cheesecake followed by a breakfast burrito just to start the next day off right.
I felt fantastic at 160 lbs but I never had my “six pack.” I felt terrible at 240 lbs and even today that meal sounds fantastic. I had personal trainers, dietitians, meal delivery, and physicians telling me what I could do, but no one asked me how I felt. No one knew that the Cabernet, steak, and cheesecake was a reward. I was lonely but not with my wine.
I had hypertension, heart disease, obesity, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, and felt hopeless. After two hospitalizations, I finally got it. See, during the first hospitalization, I was not ready. The second one stays with me to this day. My mom was at the end of the bed. She did not say a thing. We did not exchange any words. We did not have to. That was all I needed to initiate a change. Sometimes we change for ourselves, other times health; for me, I started for my mom.
Steps to Take Toward Losing Weight
So what could you do to get started? Below are a couple ideas to think about.
- Identify what stage of readiness for change you are in.
- Find the Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change) here: www.prochange.com
- Initiate change with small attainable steps focusing on what you could do today.
- Work towards SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely
- Start with a specific action today. Then create goals for the week and month that are measurable. Need help? Just ask. I would be happy to help.
- Ask yourself, what has worked for you? What have you done well?
Sometimes we forget to focus on what we do well. Other times we disqualify the positives. The emphasis here is on your abilities, potential, and values.
What are your values? Why are you doing this? I initiated change for my mom. I sustained change for me. Maybe health and feeling happy are one of your values, you just aren’t where you want to be.
- Do you need accountability? Do you need reinforcement?
- Could you eliminate a certain food group? What would happen if you went through the house and threw out the sugars, salts, and alcohol?
- We can focus on how to differentiate physical from psychological hunger later. I think this is very important. Do you know how?
- Can you identify your triggers or the antecedents that contribute to you making a poor diet choice?
- Are you an emotional eater? Do you reward yourself with food?
- Do you forget to eat? Are your eyes bigger than your stomach? Do you make the wrong choices when you are stressed?
- Do you hate the gym? Do you have the right clothes to exercise in? What type of activity do you like?
- Do you track your intake? How do you track your exercise or dietary habits?
- Is tracking problematic for you? Maybe you perceive tracking as a chore? Do you utilize any technology? Keep in mind that tracking does not have to be a long-term objective.
Knowing what to do and knowing how to do it are different. Some believe this begins with what you are thinking. The hard part is slowing down enough to identify when those problematic thoughts get in the way.
Google or search with your favorite browser “cognitive distortions.” These are thinking patterns. It may be difficult to determine thinking patterns in the moment. Ultimately, we want to connect the thoughts to a feeling and action. Sound difficult? I can help, it does not have to be.
Quality sleep can be pivotal. Water consumption can be pivotal. Do you know how to start?
Could you apply a SMART goal to drinking more water? I think so.
Chances are, if you have read this far you probably relate to something written. Are you looking for new tools? Are you looking to initiate change and share your story? Maybe you want to stop yo-yo success. Whatever the reason, I believe I can educate, enable, and empower the attainable change you desire.
Still worried if I am a good fit? This is one reason our initial appointment could be FREE. For all I know, you may not like my colorful socks. I want to make you comfortable by being helpful, nourishing success, creating safety, and guiding through to resolution.
Schedule an appointment today.
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For many people, it is difficult to imagine how others suffer from eating disorders. The idea of throwing up a delicious meal or trying to maintain an almost skeletal-like frame seems absurd to them.
Yet for those who do suffer from such disorders, it is a very serious reality that it is not about food or about entering the modeling world, rather it is about problems with control. This article will discuss this issue since many truly suffer from this, often in secret, and need help.
Causes Behind the Problem
The primary cause for most stems from control. Some feel that they lack control in certain areas of their life. The root causes of such are psychological such as low self-esteem, perfectionism, or difficulties controlling the emotions. Since they are not able to overcome these, they instead try to consciously control something else like their food intake.
For others, the control problem comes from elements in their environment such as peer pressure, bullying, family concerns or abuse. The world around them is chaotic and problematic so they try to establish some sense of control by controlling how they eat.
To a lesser extent, the disorder may manifest in reaction to stress at work or in the classroom, especially in the case of binge eating where people may seek their comfort food when they feel bombarded with problems.
Additionally, biological problems may also cause eating disorders to develop. Abnormal levels of body chemicals connected to sleep, stress, appetite or mood may also cause a person to overeat or undereat.
Unfortunately, eating disorders often run in the family. If a parent has an issue with overeating or undereating, it is oftentimes passed on to the children since they usually model what they see.
So Just How Bad is it?
According to the Washington State Department of Health (www.doh.wa.gov Mental Health-Eating Disorders, August 27, 2016):
“Approximately 1% of adolescent girls in the United States develop anorexia nervosa and 2-5% of adolescent girls develop bulimia. Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents in the United States. The prevalence of eating disorders in males is much smaller than females but an estimated 19-30% of anorexia cases diagnosed in older adolescents are male.”
For the adult population in the US, eating disorders affect one million males and ten million females across the country. Moreover, four out of ten people know of someone who has experienced an eating disorder or they have personally undergone such a struggle themselves.
The following are the estimates of eating disorders over men and women’s lifetimes.
For men … For women …
● 0.3% will battle anorexia ● 0.9% will deal with anorexia
● 0.5% will deal with bulimia ● 5% will struggle against bulimia
● 0.2% will struggle with binge eating ● 5% will battle binge eating
(National Institute of Mental Health, nimh.nih.gov, Eating Disorders, August 27, 2016).
Perhaps for those who are not plagued by this, the statistics are meaningless. But for those affected by them, whether personally or because of people they know, the numbers are disturbing.
These Disorders are an Addiction
When people think of the word “addiction”, shopping, sex, drugs, or alcohol abuse come readily to mind. But eating disorders are also an addiction.
Binge eating can easily be identified as an addiction as sufferers may crave food in times of stress the same way a person may crave alcohol or cigarettes when stressed. Yet one’s obsession with having a particular body size is also an addiction since sufferers do what they do (e.g. vomiting up food or undereating) to achieve their goal.
Treatment for Eating Disorders
Just like the other addictions out there, it is very difficult to overcome an eating disorder alone. Treatment for eating disorders is necessary, lest something even worse (e.g. health complications, other addictions, severe depression, or suicide) happens to the sufferer.
Usually a team of specialists – counselor, dietician, and psychiatrist (if medication is involved) – is needed to overcome the problem. Individual and family counseling are highly encouraged to help both the sufferer and their family deal with the issue.
The sufferer must face the root cause of their addiction in order to overcome it. However, family members must also acknowledge their own feelings (e.g. shame, guilt, anger, regret) about having a loved one who is suffering from this, and they must learn what they need to do to help in the recovery.
Group counseling with other sufferers helps the person realize that they are not the only one battling such disorders. Insights are often gained in these groups leading to faster recovery.
Many times this support may be done on an outpatient basis via regular appointments with counselors and the medical team. In extreme cases, however, inpatient care at a facility may be needed with such care lasting anywhere from a few months up to a year.
Other Helpful Activities
In addition to the professional support, there are other things that may be done to speed up recovery.
1) Meditation or yoga may help relax the mind and body.
2) Exercise, which should be at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week, keeps the body healthy and may take the thoughts off of binge eating. Just be careful that the sufferer does not overdo it as excessive exercise may be connected to obsession over bodyweight.
3) Proper diet, as instructed by the dieticians, can get the body back on track.
4) Appointments with a specialist for connected disorders will help overcome problems like anxiety, alcohol or drug addictions, depression or other issues.
5) Hobbies like reading, art projects, music and other creative activities can refocus the mind on something positive to help boost self-esteem and self-love.
6) Helping others at this time of healing can also boost recovery. Most people usually feel more thankful for life and their blessings when they are able to assist others in need.
Prayer and Bible Reading
A very important activity to help overcome eating disorders is to spend time in prayer and Bible reading. Prayer allows us to communicate and connect with God. When this is done, a person feels less alone and less helpless, knowing that God the Almighty is there. It is only God who truly sees how beautiful and special we all are so it is His love that we should all seek.
But prayer must be paired with knowing more about God through His Word. It is difficult to trust someone we do not know so it is important to know more about God by meditating on Scripture. Aside from bringing us closer to Him, God’s Word will inspire sufferers in their struggle against their eating disorders.
The following, for example, are some Bible verses specifically for such disorders:
Don’t you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you. You don’t belong to yourselves. You were bought for a price. So bring glory to God in the way you use your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. – Proverbs 31:30
The Lord is near all who call out to Him, all who call out to Him with integrity. – Psalm 145:18
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayers and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
Seek Christian Counseling
While counselors are available in many institutes, a Christian counselor is able to integrate treatment for eating disorders with Scripture and prayer. In this way, both the sufferer and their family are able to seek God together to gain spiritual peace and wisdom to surmount the eating disorder at hand. Furthermore, even after the disorder has been overcome, the benefit of knowing God more intimately helps in whatever happens afterward.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, seek help soon before things worsen. Remember, God always has the best in mind for us.
The only temptations that you have are the same temptations that all people have. But you can trust God. He will not let you be tempted more than you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13
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San Diego Christian Counseling is an affiliation of professional Christian counselors with many years of experience providing help and counsel to people of all ages and backgrounds as they work through a variety of issues.
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