Weight Loss: It's Not About the Food

I have been a fan of author Geneen Roth for a long time and when I read an excerpt from her new book in Oprah Magazine April 2010, her work corroborated the theme I wrote about a few months back:  many of us use overeating as a way to avoid feeling painful feelings.  Roth’s excerpt article from “Women Food and God” is well written, clear and compelling, so I plan to read the book.  I’ve highlighted a few key themes and quotes so you can get the idea or you can read the excerpt online.  I’ve also included a few resources: an example of how to work through your negative thoughts and a link to a Questioning Your Thoughts worksheet that you may use to assist you with that practice.

According to Roth, “The bottom line, whether you weigh 340 pounds or 150 pounds, is that when you eat when you are not hungry you are using food as a drug, grappling with a feeling or making yourself numb.”  “Eat what you want when you are hungry and feel what you feel when you are not!”

Roth says that we treat our bodies as if they are the enemy and the only acceptable outcome is annihilation.  But the truth is that kindness, not hatred is the answer.  The shape of your body obeys the shape of your beliefs about love, value and possibility.   When you abuse yourself (by taunting or threatening yourself), you become a bruised human being no matter how much you weigh.

So what can you do?  Roth has some processes that I haven’t yet tried, so here are the ones I’ve learned:

 1) Become aware of your feelings and your thoughts when you overeat; 2) Be kind and compassionate with yourself 3) Get help and support: use free or paid resources  like Oprah Winfrey’s website, read Martha Beck’s FOUR DAY WIN or Geneen Roth’s books, or get her programs, or get a life/weight coach!

As promised in my weight loss post from January, here is an approach for dealing with negative thoughts and feelings that come up when you catch yourself in the act of overeating.  In short,  identify the negative thought, write it down, question it like a curious child, (not a self-hate monger) and see if you can start to transform it.  Here’s how it works:

  • What am I feeling?  How am I feeling in my body in this moment?
  • What am I thinking that is causing this feeling?  Write down your stream of consciousness for three to 10 minutes.  Even that act may stop a binge!
  • Review your negative thought(s) – are they really, absolutely true? They may feel true, but most thoughts, are created in our minds by our fears and our habits (E.g. My kids are out of control and they are wearing me out.) and can be changed!
  • Can you come up with a few examples of how your negative thought isn’t always true? (E.g. My kids get to school on time, they get decent grades and they come home every night)
  • How can I reframe my negative thought to be true or truer? (E.g., My kids just have a high need for attention; I am out of control with my kids, My kids are in control of me!) Is there a germ of wisdom in there that helps you think about the problem in a new way? What is your role in the situation? BIG HINT: Usually, you can most effectively change things that relate to yourself since that is usually all that is within your total control: your thinking, your behavior, your responses.
  • What reasonable and doable steps can I take to make this feeling/problem/issue better?  (e.g. I don’t have to be in control of my kids, but I will take them out to play every afternoon so they can burn off more energy; I won’t respond by yelling, I will just give them consequences and stick with those consequences, I will ask my partner for help and suggestions how to handle this better, etc. )

In summary – Ask yourself, can I change my thinking or, can I change a circumstance to make a situation better? If I can deal with the real feeling, then the need to overeat to avoid the feeling becomes less over time.

Here is a Questioning Your Thoughts Worksheet that you can print off and use to assist you with your reframing process.  Good luck and take care of yourself! You are totally worth it.

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Date: Tuesday, 27. April 2010 13:19
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Self Actualization, Wellness

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1 Comment

  1. 1

    You make some great points. I'll have to look into Roth myself and try some of tips out.

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