Childhood and Adult Obesity
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: P Michael Acton-Coles B.Ed., M.Ed. (Psych.) Hons., M.A.C. Psych., P.D. C. Psych.
14th April, 2012
It is amazing how many people are ‘brainwashed’ into thinking that their key to success lies in the personal torture and magic ‘cure alls’ (that inevitably fail) bandied around by the press or most medical practitioners.
To dispel these myths, clients need educating about the billion pound industry of diets and diet aids and the billion pound industry of exercise machines, gym memberships, exercise DVDs and ‘miracle regimes of the stars’ (which are OK if you have a private chef, full time exercise coach and no worries about the day to day grind).
Individuals need to work out why they want to lose weight. Is this their own goal or one imposed by others or the media? Without a clear, thought-out and genuine reason for shedding the pounds there will be little, fragile motivation to do so and it would be unkind and pointless to continue with the process. Until they discover what the real issues are around wanting to be less heavy, they need to remain curious and steadily unravel the ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ (similar to the layers of an onion) to make their task of losing weight clear and manageable. You can liken it to someone stopping smoking, as it is as difficult a journey.
Some key issues need exploring before clients can lose weight on a regular and permanent basis:
- Why do they want to lose weight?
- What positive outcomes would there be to losing weight?
- A medical check to rule out any body mechanics (e.g. thyroid) that could be causing obesity, and to check suitability to losing weight (exercise, food groups, etc).
- How have they tried to lose weight in the past and did this succeed or fail (i.e. what worked and didn’t work)?
- Why did they fail (this is where the education comes in)
- Changing their thinking about fuel in and fuel out.
- How has life been to this point and what may have contributed to how they are now (there can be all number of reasons why a person puts on weight, and it may not be to do with their liking of food or dislike or inability to exercise; it may be, and often is, emotionally bound)?
- How to eat well and not be hungry, by turning back the clock 100 years and eating how humans are meant to eat (without breaking the bank... we can still eat very healthily on the least amount of money!!!).
- What is the best way clients can change their own personal lifestyle and become more active?
- How can clients, as individuals, stay on track and keep moving forward?
- Working on and addressing/facing what transpires during the transition to losing weight (many people forget their past issues and experiences and sometimes losing weight can uncover these. What are they and how might they trigger failure?).
Of prime importance is that clients should not traumatise or abuse themselves by going without or hurting themselves in any way during the process! Some adults talk about their traumas as children and report that their parents or care-givers ridiculed them, forcing them into being different; they ostracised them in order to help them lose weight, leaving terrible scars as a result (these parents were not necessarily cruel on purpose: most of them knew no different and followed very poor advice). Worst of all are the adults that continue to self abuse as an adult when attempting to lose weight. Losing weight is not without the need to apply yourself and have some self discipline, but (having worked through a few important elements of self as a central part of the process) it can also bring rewards and successes and be an enlightening, steadfast and kind process.
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