For many women dieting is a way of life . As a young woman I felt fat even though I wasn't, and so began this lifetime’s battle about needing to be slim because for one reason or another I believed I was, probably due to low self esteem. In retrospect I can see that as a young woman I was quite healthy and shapely. However my mum had a bit of an obsession herself about her wieght and would use slimming biscuits which were popular in their day,’ Limits’. Some of you may remember them? Eat two ‘Limit’ biscuits with a cuppa as a substitute for a meal, possibly replacing a whole day’s calorific intake with these so called meal replacements. My mum swore by them. Problem was she also wanted me to get used to them, I was fourteen at the time and this became the start of my life and diets. As the years past I shifted from one diet to another gaining, losing, joining slimming clubs losing weight, regaining it then trying another slimming club. I would attend gyms and run myself ragged on my quest to either stay slim or get slim, trying extreme diets like the eggs and grapefruits every day for two weeks, a most horrifying process. As I have aged I have been easier on myself but realise for health reasons I should be slimmer.
How many of you live life like this? Only someone who had spent their adult life shifting from one diet to another will understand this concept. Many people gain weight on certain occasions in life but lose it and don’t bother again. However, for lifer's the psychological implications are enormous. In society being labelled as obese is a recipe for shame for those who struggle both practically and emotionally with the complex internal battle of weight. Slimming clubs buy into this kind of shame, promising weight loss with support at a price. Of course this works well for many but for some the loss is followed by a gain because the root issue is not addressed.
Feeling ‘out of control’ around food is not uncommon. It is a frightening place and helplessness and panic can take over, there are considerable amounts of shame involved in the awful way obese people are portrayed on the media. Generally seen to be stuffing their faces with oversized burgers or pasties as they walk down the street, or seen in front of a large fry up of carbohydrates. There is a sense of distaste in the portrayal as if overweight people are too often seen as lazy or stupid. There are those who make simplistic statements like ‘just eat less’ and in truth that is probably right but if it were that simple we wouldn’t be looking at an overweight society. When it comes to eating disorders most of us know about anorexia and bulimia but the most common condition is compulsive eating. This is using food to supress what is really going on emotionally for the individual. It becomes a cycle of experience. Until this is addressed, for some the long term weight loss will not be attained.
Where weight is concerned there is a theory that defines an underlying imbalance within the body and personality, it is considered that a physiological and emotional change that is needed. Most slimming clubs tend to lean towards the physiological rather than the psychological and emotional. Maybe to lose weight the individual needs to become more accepting of self, physically, emotionally and spiritually. A big question is for those who want to lose weight, what is the motivation to lose weight? Answers need to be about the internal struggle with food as friend or enemy. This battle with the self and the world in my view is about self-esteem. To be imbalanced means there will be symptoms, for example insomnia, constipation, fatigue and tension headaches. For some there may be indications of slow digestion, lethargy and joint problems. Psychologically there might be issues of self-loathing, anger and hopelessness. Many people lie about the way they feel protesting that they don’t care about being fat but we know deep within we do care. We all know the medical profession say there are risks of cancer, diabetes and stroke but these are not symptoms they are possible implications of obesity. However the scare approach does not work until the inner reality is faced.
It is well documented that the obese struggle against their bodies natural cravings, fighting with an arsenal of weapons for example pills, diet clubs, fibre supplements, diet books and fad diets all used spasmodically throughout life. This way some lose huge amounts of weight but then sadly once they step off this treadmill they regain. To me this does not mean that slimming clubs etc. are successful it means they can help you lose weight but have not found a root cause to the problem. In my experience of this process there is a tendency to applaud the pounds off for each week’s class. I have been disappointed by the reception my comments bring, whenever I mention the possibility of emotional and psychological problems. I do think that attending clubs works, mainly because of the camaraderie and the introduction of nutritional information but each of us needs something that cannot be supplied on mass. Each of us needs to look inside and ask ‘what do I need?’ ‘What needs to change in me so that I can continue to eat less, stay sensible and feel less ashamed of who I am?
This article can only touch the surface of this issue and the nation’s problem of obesity; we can applaud diet clubs for their education in relation to healthy eating. However diet alone will not change the key to self-destruct where we begin quickly to regains what we lost. However for anyone who is willing to seek some of the psychological and emotional issue involved in compulsive eating I invite you to contact me in regards joining a different kind of slimming group. You can speak to me on face book or write in the comments box.