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Monday, Aug. 12, 2019

Yo-Yo Diet Queen

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Are you feeding true hunger or emotional hunger?

Here’s a question from someone that I think a lot of folks might relate to.

“Dear Andy, I am a woman in my late 30s and overweight. Over the years (since middle school), I have been on various exercise and diet plans and have often lost a lot of weight only to gain it all back, if not more. Recently, I was told by my doctor that both my blood sugar and blood pressure are high as well as other potential medical concerns. She told me that I needed to lose some significant weight or face some serious health issues. I am 5’5” and weigh about 240 pounds. My doctor wants me to lose 90-100 pounds. How can I lose weight and keep it off? I want to have a long healthy life for my young children and future grandchildren.” Signed: Yo-Yo Diet Queen.

Dear Yo-Yo Diet Queen. Thank you for reaching out to me. You are not alone! There are about 160 million clinically obese people in the United States which means about 70% of adults and 25% of children. Can you believe weight-loss products and services account for a $70 billion market annually in the U.S.?

For many people, they just can’t stay on a weight-loss plan. Most, like you, are able to stick to a plan for a while and lose the weight they want only to gain it all back, sometimes more. Weight going up and down like a yoyo can be very unhealthy for our bodies.

In my practice, I’ve helped many people with weight loss as well as also offering hour-long seminars to churches, civic organizations and professional groups that want to help their members understand weight loss. I have even written a book about dieting from a therapeutic point of view which should be available in late 2019. Emotional healing is key. Here are the steps and concepts that I believe will help you lose and keep off the weight you want.

First, I recommend keeping a food diary or journal for a week or two to get an honest picture of how many calories you are eating and drinking daily. Most people don’t realize how many calories they are consuming through meals, snacks and drinks. It is essential to know the truth. Keep in mind, most people who try too drastic of a plan like you see on TV can’t stick to it.

Second, choose a sound diet plan that fits your eating preferences and personality. For example, my wife is not a big protein or meat eater.

She prefers to eat lighter foods like salads. I, on the other hand, love a high protein and meat diet. This is why it’s so important that couples not try to do the same plans. So choose an eating plan that fits you.

The third step is including regular exercise into your weight loss plan. Check with your doctor first to see what types of exercise you can safely do. Then choose exercises that fit your interests and personality. Remember, for each pound or two you want to lose per week, you need to cut out about 500 calories a day. If you exercise regularly, you can deduct the number of calories burned from your daily calories. For example, if you walked briskly on a treadmill for 30 minutes, you probably burned about 200 calories. This means you only have to cut your food intake by 300 calories that day to stay on track.

There are many good diet and exercise plans out there to follow that will help you reach your goal. Being a psychotherapist, I think the most important thing to remember about weight loss is healing old or current emotional pain. This is what tends to draw people back to old unhealthy eating patterns. Traumatic situations in your childhood may still be affecting your daily life. Current stressful situations like work or family conflict might also be causing emotional pain. Many people turn to unhealthy soothing mechanisms like drugs and alcohol, anger, depression, overspending, and yes, overeating.

This is why it’s so important to learn to recognize when you’re hungry if you are having true hunger or emotional hunger. True hunger tends to feel less of an emergency, and many types of foods might sound good. Emotional hunger tends to come on suddenly, and very specific foods like ice cream, chocolate or chips are craved. The secret to controlling emotional hunger is not to ignore your negative emotions but to find healthier ways to soothe them.

The last step is to have a safety plan and be ready for set-backs or falling off the wagon with food. “Old habits die hard,” so expect your old eating habits to pull you back. It’s OK to have cheat days occasionally, though. Just get back on track as soon as you can. Remember, weight loss is not like sprinting a hundred-yard dash; it’s a life-long journey. Events like holidays and family celebrations or an argument with your spouse can all trigger using food for self-soothing: This is where counseling can be beneficial to heal old or current emotional wounds. Thank you, “Yo-Yo Diet Queen,” and I hope this helps.

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