Childhood and Adult Obesity: How can we, or not, beat it successfully!

In my work with people battling obesity, during nearly 20 years of practice, it never ceases to amaze me how most people are ‘brain washed’ into thinking that their key to success lies in personal torture and magic ‘cure alls’ (that inevitably fail) banded around by the press or most medical practitioners.

The first stage of my work it to dispel these myths and educate my clients about the billion pound industry of diets and diet aids. Then, we work on the billion pound industry of exercise machines and gym memberships and exercise DVDs and ‘miracle regimes of the stars’ (OK if you have a private chef and full time exercise coach and not worrying about the day to day grinds of us mere mortals).

Finally, our last task is to work out why this individual wants to lose weight. Is this their own goal or imposed by others or 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 we have worked out together what the real issues are around wanting to be less heavy we need to remain curious and steadily unravel the Whys and Wherefores similar to the layers of an onion to make our task of losing weight clear and manageable. Liken it to someone stopping smoking as it is as difficult a journey.

So, what do I typically do with people that see me and want to lose weight? There are clear steps that I have used for years that lead to clients losing weight on a regular and permanent basis:

  • Why do you want to lose weight?
  • What positive outcomes would there be to losing weight?
  • Medical check to rule out any body mechanics (Like thyroid) that could be causing obesity and to check suitability to losing weight (Exercise, food groups, etc).
  • How have we tried to lose weight in the past and succeeded or failed, e.g. what worked and didn’t work?
  • Why did we fail (This is where the education comes in)
  • Let’s change our thinking about fuel in and fuel out!
  • How has life been to this point and what may have contributed to how we 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)
  • Let’s 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 healthy on the least amount of money!!!).
  • What is the best way for you, individually to change your life style and become more active?
  • How can you individually stay on track and keep moving forward?
  • Work on and address/face what transpires during your transition to losing weight (Many people forget their past issues and experiences and sometimes losing weight can uncover these and require us to look at what these might be as these may be the triggers for failure).

During our work together, the number 1 agreement we need to make is to not traumatise or abuse ourselves by going without or hurting ourselves in any way during the process! I have had many adults talk about their traumas as children. They report their parents or care-givers ridiculing them and forcing them into being different and by doing so 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 is the adults that present to me and tell me of their continued self abuse as an adult when attempting to lose weight. I am not saying that losing weight is not without the need to apply your-self and have some self discipline, however, I am saying that losing weight (having worked through a few important elements of self as a central part of the process) can bring rewards and successes and can be an enlightening, steadfast and kind process.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Fulham, SW6
Written by Dr Michael Acton, Psy.D., M.Ed. (Psych.) Hons., M.A.C. Psych.
Fulham, SW6

Dr. Michael Acton Psy.D., M.Ed. (Psych.) Hons., M.A.C. Psych., AfBPsS, BACP (Accred)., MICF Dr. Michael Acton (also known as Michael Padraig Acton) is a psychologist, relationship expert, and author. He is the founder of the London-based private practice MPA Mind, and has worked with celebrities, ar...

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