As a nation, we have a problem — a serious problem:
- It’s estimated that one in three Americans is overweight, an increase of 30 percent in the last 10 years
- 44 percent of high school girls and 15 percent of high school boys report that they are trying to lose weight
- 50 percent of adult females and 24 percent of adult males are on a diet on any given occasion
- It’s now estimated that 10 percent of Americans have disordered eating
Unfortunately, the battle of the bulge for most is not getting any easier. That’s why my colleagues and I at The Center for Counseling and Health Resources are concerned about people and their weight challenges. But, unlike other weight-loss programs, we do not isolate weight as a single issue. We don’t focus on the use of scales or on a daily regimen of checking to see how much has been lost or gained in the last week. Our whole person approach does not encourage people to tally calories, check body fat, or count cholesterol and sodium. This is because people who lose weight permanently do not rely on the stuff most diets are made of.
Progress … not Perfection
Instead of working toward perfection in weight management, the members of the two percent club inch toward progress. They come to understand that food is not the issue, because if food were the problem, then diets would be the answer. People who lose weight permanently understand they no longer need to rely on food for solace and comfort. No longer do such people feel trapped and immobilized by weight. Instead, they begin to see themselves as individuals for which the issue of weight is only one component. That is the exhilarating thing about this approach.
The diet mentality is based on the belief that thin is good and fat is bad. People begin dieting to become thin and good, only to set in motion an endless cycle of pain and dieting failure.
When I started seeing Carol for weight counseling, she had already been on 13 different diets, none of which had worked. In fact, after each diet fiasco Carol always gained back the weight she lost, plus a few extra pounds. You can imagine how large she’d become after putting her body through such intense shock over so many years. I’d estimated that since junior high Carol had probably shed a total of three to four hundred pounds. Yet she continued to begin every diet with a vague sense of hope that this one will work; I know I’ll make it this time…. Just one more shot at this and I’ll be thin…. I know I’ll be successful with this one.
But every diet was just another breaktaking roller coaster ride of self-delusion and false promises, with her depression dipping lower each time as yet one more diet provided painful and ineffective. During and after each unsuccessful diet experience, Carol’s highs were high and her lows lower on more than one occasion. She had come to the end of the line. She now knew that diets didn’t work and never would. Her question was what would work?
How did this terible diet mania start? What put Carol on the hopeless path of eating disorders in the first place? What had gone on in her past to create a foundation of pain that dogged her steps well into adulthood?
Next Thursday: Carol’s story continues.
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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