Try a holistic approach to maintain a healthy weight
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Jenifer Higgins
23rd February, 2010
Do you find it hard to motivate yourself to improve your fitness and health? Perhaps you have tried several diets and fitness regimes? Did they work for you? If not, unresolved psychological problems may be hindering your ability to maintain a healthy body weight in spite of good intentions.
Our emotions and beliefs are intricately entwined with our self-image and therefore our relationship with our bodies. We learn from our family and from experience as we grow up. Some beliefs prevent us from caring for ourselves appropriately. A counsellor will listen to you, help you understand your feelings and help you make changes. He/she will work alongside you to heal psychological pain and improve your self-esteem and quality of Life.
What does your body say about you? Do you obsess about your weight and how you look thinking that all your troubles will be over if only you were thinner, prettier, smarter etc? Does being bigger help you feel more powerful or protected? Remember we are not defined by our appearance. It is only one aspect of who we are.
Has attending to your physical health been low on your list of priorities? Perhaps you are struggling on a reduced income, caring for others, weighed down with work, coping with illness or injury, in the grip of an addiction or simply getting older and thinking why bother? If you are reading this, you may have decided that now is the time to do something about your weight and eating patterns.
Let’s look at why we find it hard to have a balanced relationship with food. After all, we need food to live. Our natural rhythm is to eat when we are hungry and stop eating when we are full. We may override our body’s signals because of rules in our head. We associate food with love and care but, if food has been scarce or used to control, we will feel uncomfortable around eating. We need both physical and emotional nourishment to thrive. (1)
Some people have an eating disorder that will require treatment. Do you use food to help manage your difficulties? Help is available so do not suffer in silence. Get more information from the Eating Disorders Association UK now called ‘beat’ www.edauk.com. (2)
In the western world, obesity is increasing and is a serious health risk. We need to eat the right foods in the right quantities and to drink sufficient water for our needs. (3)
Taking good care of ourselves from a holistic viewpoint means attending to body, mind and spirit. Wanting to connect, be valued and be happy is part of being human. As we love and accept who we are, we can begin to do the same for others and hopefully create a better society. (4)
So my recipe for losing weight and being healthy would include all the things we already know i.e. eat a healthy diet, take regular exercise, attend to your needs, increase your self-esteem, be interested in others, learn something new, enjoy nature and your pets, be with people who make you feel good about yourself, get help from the experts to support your own efforts and give yourself a pat on the back every now and then.
Oh, and one other thing, remember that eating a chocolate biscuit when no one is looking still counts as calories.
1. Susie Orbach “On Eating” (Penguin 2002)
2. Susie Orbach “Hunger Strike” (reprinted Karnac Books 2005)
3. Patrick Holford “The 10 Secrets of 100% Healthy People” (Piatkus 2009) Website: www.patrickholford.com
4. Prof Emmy van Deurzen “Psychotherapy and the Quest for Happiness” (Sage 2009) Website: www.existentialpsychotherapy.net
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