242532?1269553979
Roger Gould, M.D.  
Male

Specialties: Mental Health, Wellness, emotional eating

All Journal Entries Journals

Successful New Year's Resolutions

Jan 16, 2011 - 2 comments
Tags:

emotional eating

,

binge eating

,

New Year's Resolutions

,

eating habits

,

Lose weight

,

compulsive eating

,

get rid of your cravings



We all make New Year's resolutions, and often these resolutions involve weight loss. However, many of us quickly lose traction before we achieve our objectives. In this week's blog I will answer the following 5 questions that will help you stay on track and reach your goals.

1. What are the psychological and emotional reasons behind these failures?

2. What is the biggest mistake people make when making a resolution?

3. How do you set reasonable, healthy expectations when you resolve to lose weight or shape up at this time of year or any other time of year?

4. What kind of support should you seek to help you achieve your goals?

5. What's the most important thing you can do to improve your chances of success before you make a healthy lifestyle change?


1. What are the psychological and emotional reasons behind these failures?

The biggest factor by far is emotional or stress eating. If you are in the habit of over using food as a form of self medication when you're in distress (overwhelmed, anxious, angry, bored or lonely,) then you are emotionally dependent on food to regulate your emotions. The instant you make your New Year's resolution you are in conflict with yourself. Your resolve may be absolutely serious and very real at the moment but when the stresses of everyday life throw you into a tailspin, even the greatest motivations will be sacrificed in favor of restoring your emotional equilibrium. You think forward with your head but respond in the moment to your feelings.

Think of it this way. For most parts of your life you can simply do what you intend to do. You brush your teeth, go to the store, keep your appointments. There is little or no distance between the mental intention and the act of doing. When you resolve to lose weight, you are making a simple clear healthy choice. There aren't any valid reasons not to do it, so you expect and hope that your intention will carry the day. It doesn't work that way. When you begin to put that choice into action you discover that changing an eating pattern is a psychological piece of work.

There is another, probably hidden, part of you that does not really want to go along with your New Years resolution. Because food is so deeply rooted in family dynamics, when you change your eating habits, you disturb these early associations. Since food is every one's first form of love and safety, you can see how familiar eating habits can provide comfort even when they may not be healthy.

What unhealthy eating habit did you "inherit" from childhood?

2. What is the biggest mistake people make when making a resolution?

The biggest mistake people make is ignoring the emotional eating factor. You hope to override it with good intentions and strong motivations and a new program that is guaranteed to work this time. You may be embarrassed about your weight or worried about your health or just want to look better or move with more grace. These are all strong powerful motivations that will drive you for a while. In the commonsense world, these motivations should prevail and take you all the way to your goal.

But there is this other force inside you that will throw up a smoke screen of a thousand excuses in order to justify going back to those eating patterns that make you feel safe, patterns that have probably existed for decades, and maybe since childhood.

When you make a New Year's resolution to lose weight, you are setting yourself up for failure if you don't recognize and take into account the fact that your overeating habits are the adult form of a child's security blanket. The security blanket made the child feel safe, but it didn't make the child safe. The same with food.

The safety and psychological hiding place that over eating or binging provides is only an ILLUSION. Once you really understand this, you can change your eating habits and reach your weight goals. This is why 95% of diets fail. If you don't deal with it, your chances of being successful for very long are slim.

How does food make you feel safe?

3. How do you set reasonable, healthy expectations when you resolve to lose weight or shape up at this time of year or any other time of year?

You have to pay attention to reality, which means you'll need to start eating healthy, making sure not to put yourself in the position of feeling deprived which only sets up for the next failure. Don't think of losing weight as a contest to win, because that means you are sure to lose. Think of it as a decision to be healthy, and that it is your responsibility to create a program that works for you, and that you are the expert. Don't set an artificial weight goal to meet some event deadline.

Remember you are losing weight for you because that is the healthy thing to do, not to please others or to impress others. If you keep all that in mind, you'll be happy with a modest weight gain in the beginning that is tied directly to conscious healthy decision making. Once that is established, the weight will come off much faster than you can imagine. And don't rely on exercise to lose weight. You can undo an hour of vigorous exercise in two minutes eating junk food. You should exercise to be healthy and enjoy your body. To lose weight, you need to focus more on what you put and let into your body... physically, emotionally and mentally.

What negative emotional or mental energy are you currently "binging" on?

4. What kind of support should you seek to help you achieve your goals?

Surround yourself with people who support healthy eating, who enjoy eating right, and are proud of making good food choices. A good weight loss partner who thinks the way you do can be very useful. The most important support people are those who respect your need to be the one who makes the decisions, including indulging on special occasions without feeling guilty or like a failure. Stay away from those who want to tell you what to do.

Do you have a family member, friend or co-worker that will listen compassionately to your "story" as you experience the challenges of changing your eating habits?

5. What's the most important thing you can do to improve your chances of success before you make a healthy lifestyle change?

The most important thing you can do is be honest with yourself. If you are too distraught, scared of attempting to change your eating habits, just wishing and hoping but secretly sure you are going to fail, don't do it now just because it is a new year. But if you are tired of yo-yo dieting, and tired of being obsessed and controlled by food, and are really ready to start a new part of your life by understanding rather than avoiding your emotional life, then make a serious commitment to a program that can guide you safely, step-by-step, to that goal. When you decide to make a commitment, then stick with it by seeing it as a psychological growth adventure which just happens to give you the added benefit of getting rid of your cravings and compulsive eating.

How would you like to grow personally as an adult?

Comments
Post a Comment
Avatar_n_tn
by whatcanudo, Jan 19, 2011
These are really good questions to ask yourself.  I think that the weight is a result of feeling bad about yourself.  So you have to take care of those issues first then the weight will be a lot easier.  I also agree with you when you said "To lose weight, you need to focus more on what you put and let into your body... physically, emotionally and mentally."

I have always been in good shape.  After I gave birth to my daughter at 42 I started menopause and developed a under active thyroid.  With getting adjusted to a year of marriage and then a new born, my life changed drastically.  My emotions have been all over the place.  The last 10 years I have been a yo-yo with my weight.  Not ever really been over weight in my life I thought this is it.  A lot of mothers after menopause gain weight and its hard to get off.  Also I couldn't seem to find the time to work out like I use to, religiously.  I felt like I was a failure.   I had lost myself in more ways then one. There are a lot of issues with marriage, children and money.  So I have found out over the years its not the weight that is the issue.  The weight is the result, for some of us, when we don't handle the real issues in our lives. The stress, conflicts in our marriage, the worrying if you are doing right by your child, taking care of your own goals and dreams.   I have been successfully been on a diet since December 20th and have lost 11 lbs.  I feel freer knowing that I am looking for work (solving the money issue).  Starting yoga to help with my stress and  worrying and making a strong effort with my child.  These are pro-active steps that make me feel good about yourself and it keeps moving me forward. I am starting to feel more like myself again and making easier to do the things in my life that I want to and to be a better role model for my daughter.

Thank you for the article.  I have written those questions down so I may ask myself when ever I want to eat something that I know I don't want to.

A Mom

Avatar_f_tn
by Damask, Jan 19, 2011
I enjoyed your article too, thank you. For me, fat is tears. I wouldn't cry when someone said something that hurt - I would wolf down a family sized pie with a block of chocolate and try to assauge pain with the 'security blanket' of food. Did I say 'would'? I still do.

Roger hits the nail on the head when he says we need to diet for ourselves. I care too much what people think of me and the weight of setting myself up to disappoint people is too much - which makes me binge eat!!!

The times in my life when I've been successful with weight loss is when I become, what I call, a 'secret dieter'. I don't tell anyone that I've ditched the chocolates and chips and am trying my best to eat healthier. When I try to lose weight, I can only be successful when I do it for me and when I feel I'm not being watched, judged or (horror!) disappointing anyone with my choices.

For six months I gave up my heavy smoking habit and was so proud of myself - until I realised my clothes no longer fit and I realised I'd stacked on 28 pounds. How did I cope with that? Sadly, I started smoking again. Now, I am fat AND a smoker again.  I disappointed so many family members and friends when I started smoking again that I coped by binge eating. Ahhhhhhhh!

I have had a few weeks now that I have felt a huge failure and disappointment to everyone and have not liked myself very much. As Roger's article suggests, setting ourselves up for failure is not conducive to success. I am, therefore, quietly being a 'secret dieter' and have already lost 7 pounds. I also have asked my husband to dole 4 cigarettes out to me a day (it's like I'm on a methidone programme!!) instead of the 30 a day habit I used to have.

I plan to soon become both a 'secret dieter' and a 'secret ex smoker'. Roger's article confirms to me that we can only be successful when we don't set us up for failure by doing something to gain approval of others.

Thank you Roger -  your article was very enlightening.
I would be very grateful If you would consider a similar article aimed towards smokiing.



Post a Comment