In our first counseling session, Carol told me her mother had started putting her on diets at the age of thirteen, when she was in sixth grade. At that time, Carol was the largest person in her class. The boys ridiculed her for her size. On more than one occasion she heard her friends laughing behind her back. She would fight back the tears when she heard them calling her “cow” and “pig” and “monster.” Deep inside she knew they were right. That was how she looked. Worse yet, it was how she felt about herself.
Her weight made her look older than she was. She was a child in an oversized adult’s body. Since she had no real friends at school, she began to walk down a path I have seen all too often — a journey that embraced an intimate, negative relationship with food.
Diets, Pills and Weight-Loss Doctors
Carol would sneak snacks during recess, hide food in her desk, and pilfer sandwiches and cookies from the lunch bags of fellow students. Several times a week on the way home from school, she would pay homage to the corner grocery store where candy, jelly donuts, and half gallons of ice cream were waiting to be her friends. All that food had to go someplace, and without any exercise or care for her body, Carol just got larger and larger.
Her mother assumed the only way for Carol to reduce her weight was to go on a diet, and then another, and then another. When the diets didn’t work — and they never did — she began taking Carol to different doctors in town — weight specialists, they were called — but even ritual appearances in the offices of these medicine men and women did not work. So she began buying diet pills for her daughter, thinking that surely pills would do the trick. They would work for a while, and then Carol would get sick, so her mother would try another brand of false promises.
During this ordeal, Carol’s mother would put her on a scale three to four times a day, hoping, searching, praying for those two or three illusive pounds that somehow miraculously might have fallen from Carol’s body. Carol would stand on the scale and cry as the scale confirmed what she knew would be true: another one, two, three, four, or five pounds. Without knowing it, her mother had set Carol up for failure. She continued to look for the magic pill, the overnight answer, the one diet that would help her daughter shed her unwanted weight, all to no avail.
Carol was learning a lot about dieting. She was also learning that her body was not her friend.
The average person coming to The Center for counseling about weight challenges has been on at least seven diets. These men and women have learned to count calories automatically, have an obsession with cholesterol, know as much about packaged diet foods as the manufacturers of those foods, have fasted, eaten only herbs, wracked their bodies with liposuction, and had their stomachs stapled. Desperate people do desperate things. The trouble is that most desperate people do the wrong things.
People who lose weight permanently dismount the roller coaster of dieting. People who lose weight permanently realize their lives must no longer revolve around food. They know they must take control of their lives and start living as God, their heavenly Father and faithful Friend, intended them to live — with freedom, joy, and an all-abiding sense of self-worth.
SOURCE: Chapter 1, Losing Weight Permanently: Secrets of the 2 Percent Club by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.
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