More to obesity than calories
- Category: Food and Weight
42% of American adults will be obese by 2030 reads a Los Angeles headline. The article goes on to discuss the high cost of medical treatment that the people vulnerabile to obesity will require.
The most telling and optimistic part of this article to me, occurs in the last paragraph. Can you see why?
Journal after journal have reported disappointing results for programs to help obese adults lose weight. And an estimated 80% of American dieters regain their lost weight, causing many to end up more flabby than when they started. In a study published this year in Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers wearily admitted that a more realistic goal than substantial weight loss might be to get obese adults to stop gaining, and to whittle their waist sizes modestly — which can at least improve metabolic function.
Instant gratification wishes on the part of those who want weight loss, promises of those who offer fast weight loss programs and devices, and researchers looking for quick solutions are leading us down a false trail. We live in a society that supports instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it now. And we want it faster. A three second wait for a website to load is too much.
We want fast weight loss, even if it took years to accumulate the weight and live with it. But the cherished desire for instant gratification, even to the point of believing we are entitled to it, cannot be achieved in the weight loss arena. Sustained weight loss that brings you to a healthy weight you can maintain takes time.
There are no overnight success stories.
Over the past 30 years the rate of developing obesity has slowed, but it's still rising with no leveling off anticipated. Experts at the Weight of the Nation conference in Washington say not only is obesity increasing but the medical bills that go along with addressing weight related medical problems are also on the rise.
My point is that the emotional side to obesity needs to be thoroughly addressed or we'll never see the end of this medically compromising and life limiting condition.
For example, if a person feels or is or remembers being financially strapped, buying cheap, fast and high calorie food can soothe financial anxiety for a moment. The person has power to buy and power to eat. Plus the food, especially sugary food, will kick off a chemical reward system within the body itself.
A similar scenario develops when a person is lonely, afraid or feels hopeless or hopeless and resentful. When he or she believes and feels that he or she has no power to change his or her life for the better, eating can bring a soothing distraction AND kick off an internal chemical reward system.
Treatment for a person in or approaching an obese state needs to be done in a holistic manner, addressing the whole person with respect, compassion, knowledge and patience.
The layers of fat are not isolated from the human within those layers. She or he developed that fat for a reason. An effective weight loss treatment needs to be gentle, patient, explore the emotional side of the person as well as the physical. It needs to help the person accept, with peace and non-judgment, slow and meaningful progress that involves a change, not only in eating, but in emotional resilience.
This takes patience, ongoing work and a willingness to go, with care, guidance and protection, to where your vulnerabilities lead you.
- Have you tried instant weight loss treatments?
- What was your experience?
- Have you lost weight and maintained a healthy weight for years?
- What was and is your experience?
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Los Angeles psychotherapist, speaker