Can You Handle Weight Loss Success?
24 Hour Fitness recently interviewed Dr. Edward Abramson, a clinical psychologist who specializes in body image, about the topic of weight loss success. He is the author of Body Intelligence: Lose Weight, Keep it off and Feel Great About your Body Without Dieting, released in September, 2005 from McGraw-Hill.
Do People Who’ve Lost Weight Have a Difficult Time Seeing Themselves as Slim?
“Body image is resistant to change. People who lose weight see themselves and conduct themselves as though they were still heavy. If they are in a narrow space, they might leave enough room for a protruding stomach that is no longer there. I don’t know how long it actually takes to get comfortable with a new body image, but in the meantime you can learn to accept the fact that your perceptions about your body may not accurately reflect the reality of your body.”
What Are Some Things That Make It Hard to Deal With Weight Loss Success?
“One woman told me that she started going to a gym and working out frequently. As she started losing weight and her body took on more definition, she noticed that guys were checking her out and she was a little uncomfortable with that at first.
In another case, two sisters had a lengthy history of struggling with their weight. They were fairly close, talking on the phone about recipes, diets that they tried and lapses in their dieting. They commiserated with each other. One of the sisters joined a gym and started losing weight. The other sister became kind of jealous and started making negative comments to her sister who’d lost weight.”
Is Weight Loss Sometimes Sabotaged?
“Yes, for various reasons. In a marital or romantic relationship there may be an equilibrium that is established over time. Take for example a marriage where a husband smokes or drinks and does not get promoted and his wife is overweight. If she then upsets the equilibrium by losing weight, there is implicit pressure on him to make progress in his own areas of struggle.
Another reason that someone may not want their partner to lose weight: Let’s say one person is angry and has a difficult time talking about their feelings, so they badger the other person for having a piece of apple pie. If their partner loses weight, then they no longer have that means to control or express hostility.
Or someone may nag their partner, saying ‘You don’t look as good as you used to,’ but then when their partner begins to lose weight they may resist, not feeling ‘good enough’ for them any more. One woman told me that her husband was actually feeding her off his plate. He felt threatened when she lost weight and did his best to undo her weight loss.”
What is Characteristic of People Who Lose Weight and Keep it Off?
“Consumer Reports stated that out of 32,000 readers, 4000 readers were able to maintain weight loss (an average of 37 pounds) for five or more years. They associated their success with self-directed lifestyle changes. I define it as body intelligence.
- Know why you’re eating
- Develop an active lifestyle as part of a routine
- Have a healthy body image
Hating the way that you look is not a useful strategy for motivation. Even if you have a long way to go, find things about your body that you like. Hating your body can become a habit – it’s demoralizing and drains energy needed to make changes.”
How Can People Prepare Themselves Mentally For the Positive Attention (and Perhaps Negative) That They Will Get Sfter Losing Weight?
“I encourage people to deal with these problems head on. The wife can say ‘I am getting mixed messages from you, you want me to lose weight and you’re bringing home chocolate.’ The sister can say, ‘Yes I lost weight and yes I enjoy aerobics.’ Identify the problem and put the ball back in the other person’s court.
If you’re going to make a change, brace yourself. If the comment doesn’t hurt, just shrug it off or change the topic. If it’s worthwhile, prepare yourself with responses to potential comments.”
SOURCE: Dr. Edward Abramson, clinical psychologist in Lafayette, California and author who’s frequently quoted in national publications and has appeared on television. Abramson is considered an authority on the ‘why’ of weight gain.
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