One of my favorite sayings is, “You can’t see the picture when you’re inside the frame.” It means that sometimes you need distance and objectivity to see yourself clearly and realistically. Nowhere is this more true than in an obsession with losing weight.
Take “The Tongue Patch Diet,” which I learned about in a segment of 20⁄20. Silly-sounding, it’s truly horrifying. The segment followed two young women who had a doctor sew a rough plastic patch atop their tongues to make it painful and impossible to eat. Body mutilation, anyone? The back-story was that one woman wanted to fit into her skinny jeans and the other wanted to wear her bikini on vacation, but both loved eating high-sugar and –fat food which they swore they lacked the “will power” to give up. Hence this $2000 surgery! Long story short is that they each lost about 20 pounds and were over the moon. End of story for the camera. However, as we know, not end of story for the women who most likely regained their lost weight and then some.
The story distressed and made me angry because I hear a good deal of the same wrong-headed desperation these women expressed from clients and Food and Feelings message board members. Maybe you, too, are similarly desperate to shed pounds. If so, puh-lease step back and see how your obsession is not bettering, but rather, ruining your life. You could focus on positive things to make you happy. Instead you choose (yes, choose) an obsession which is unhealthy, unproductive, and misery-producing by getting up every day and giving yourself this message: “Today I’m going to give my all to being consumed by what I weigh and how I look. I’m going to do this every day rather than enjoy pleasures that I miss out on because of my preoccupation. I could choose to feel happy about my family/work/talents/successes/life, but instead, I’ll totally ignore those positives and throw myself headlong into shrinking my body.”
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to eat healthfully or “normally,” be fit and feel comfortable in your body, even with desiring to slim down. But, there’s everything wrong with being obsessed about weight loss which actually moves you away from reaching your weight goals and keeps you stuck in a self-destructive fantasy. To paraphrase Geneen Roth, many people do better at hoping they’ll change than actually putting effort into doing so. Does this describe you? If so, it’s time to ditch your pre-occupation with weight loss and, instead, throw all your energy into practicing “normal eating, being active, and learning to effectively de-stress and manage emotions. Ironically, giving up your desperation mat be the first step in actually altering your weight.