Archive for the tag - weight loss

Lost 40 Pounds In One Month…

Dear Davey,

I’ve struggled with obesity since childhood. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve been paying more attention to my body.

In the last month, I’ve managed to lose 40 pounds by not eating. I know that you need to eat to survive, but I want to continue getting results. What advice do you have?

Thanks,
Jason

Smaller_Plate_Wont_Help_Your_Diet_Research_ShowsHey Jason,

Thanks for the email.

I have to say, you are playing a very dangerous game – and, it’s one that you’ll inevitably lose without a dramatic change in your habits and the guidance of professional help.

Despite all the science that demonstrates otherwise, many people resort to starvation as a weight loss technique. As you’ve discovered, it does yield initial results; if you stop eating, you’ll lose weight. But the problems with this approach are many.

For one, you’re slowing your metabolism. Your metabolism determines how many calories your body burns on a daily basis. Because your body is starving (generally 1,000 calories or less per day), it will do everything it can to reduce its calorie consumption. Eventually, you’ll need to start eating again – and, when you do, your metabolism will lag. With a reduced daily calorie burn, all those extra calories from food will be packed on as fat. The resulting weight gain, in many instances, exceeds the initial weight loss.

No to mention the dramatic impact of nutritional deficiencies.

We also know that diet AND exercise are required for best results. By just practicing one or the other, you’re selling yourself short. Though diet alone can result in weight loss, exercise is required to ensure that the lost weight is mostly fat and not muscle. It takes a lot of energy to maintain muscles – and our bodies are very efficient machines. If you’re not using your muscles during periods of calorie restriction and weight loss, you’ll be quick to lose them.

You mentioned that you’re paying more attention to your body. That’s important. But don’t just pay attention to how your body looks; pay attention to what your body is telling you. If your body is hungry or weak or tired, then listen to these crucial messages – and act on them. Feed your body with the foods it really craves, like a delicious, colorful salad or some lean meats and vegetables. As you fuel your body with nourishing foods, pay attention to how your body feels.

I’d also suggest giving yourself the gift of professional help. It is absolutely worth your time, money and effort to work with a nutritionist, weight loss specialist or healthcare professional. After all, you only get one body. Let’s keep it in a good, working condition.

Love,
Davey

Forgive Yourself and Lose Weight.

Love-Yourself-FirstToday’s guest post is by Davey Wavey’s good friend and spiritual weight release coach, Diane Petrella. Diane is also one of the contributors to The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program.

Your relationship with your body is one of the most important relationships that you’ll ever have. And I’m going to share the number-one thing you can do to honor that relationship and create permanent, lasting results.

Forgive yourself.

Yes… this might sound simple, but if you’re like so many on a weight-loss journey, you can be relentless when it comes to self-criticism and contempt for yourself and your body. When you let go of the guilt and shame about how you look or how you’ve treated your body, you enter a world of love and positivity that helps you create the healthy body you want and deserve.

A self-forgiving state of mind helps you more easily release negative judgments of yourself. You’re then less likely to act on those feelings by hurting yourself and your body. You’ll naturally want to take better care of your body. You see, when you learn to love yourself unconditionally and forgive yourself more readily, you’re likely to eat healthier foods, give your body the movement it needs, and talk to yourself with greater compassion.

On the other hand, when your body is filled with the poisonous energies of self-contempt (and I know you have experienced times like this), you’re more likely to turn to food for comfort or self-punishment. The negative feelings can quickly lead to a very old and familiar sense of being out of control or a victim.

As you begin to develop the habit of self-forgiveness you will notice significant changes in your physical health and in your ability to no longer rely on food for comfort. And when you feel that love for yourself and your body, you might, for example, be less likely to skip Zumba class in order to head right home after work and watch TV.

So, how do you forgive yourself?

It takes patience and persistence. Here are three heart-based exercises to help you open to the healing power of self-forgiveness, love yourself more and bring peace to your mind.

1. Be Willing to Forgive Yourself

Self-forgiveness starts with a willingness to release guilt, shame and self-hatred. Open the space for this healing energy to enter your mind and body by setting the intention to do so.

Simply say to yourself right now: “I want to forgive myself.”

Additionally, write these words down on paper several times:

“I want to forgive myself. I want to love myself fully and treat myself with loving kindness.”

This may seem like a very simple process. It is. Don’t equate simple with ineffective. A sincere and deliberate intention to stop berating yourself, and to forgive yourself when you do, helps you take charge of your life, feel less like a victim, and stop the cycle of emotional eating.

2. Wrap Negative Thoughts in Love

We all fall into old patterns. So the next time you slip back into less than healthy eating or exercise habits and berate yourself with unkind words, turn to your heart for comfort.

For example, instead of dwelling on those negative thoughts and feelings, remind yourself you can stop. Take a deep breath. Then, focus your attention on your heart and at the same time think of a beautiful memory or someone you love. I learned this exercise from the Institute of HeartMath and it helps you feel calm very quickly. Then, say this affirmation to yourself or out loud while keeping your attention on your heart:

“I release these thoughts and feelings (or shame and guilt, etc.) into the arms of Love and I open to loving and forgiving myself.”

Directing your attention to your heart infuses your words with calming, heart-based energy. It is as if you are wrapping your self-contempt in a blanket of love.

3. Connect to Your Heart, Literally

Become quiet. Place your hand on your heart. Feel your heart beat. Now, while keeping your hand on your heart, say to yourself:

“I totally and completely love and accept myself with all my problems and all my limitations.”

Feel into this process. Repeat several times daily.

This exercise helps you connect with the loving energy of your heart. Your heart doesn’t judge you for overeating or for talking harshly to yourself. It simply keeps beating on. Feel that beautiful, consistent heartbeat and know that you are loved by the pure energy within it.

Practice the above steps faithfully and you’ll begin to create a lightness of spirit within you.

Be patient and have faith. Over time you’ll notice that the love you give to yourself on the inside will be reflected in the ways you care for yourself and look and feel on the outside.

Will you practice self-forgiveness?

Weight Loss Can Cause Relationship Tension!

two men exerciseLosing weight has a number of important benefits. Many of those benefits improve your physical and emotional health. But losing weight can also have an impact on your romantic relationships – and not always for the better.

A paper from researchers at North Carolina State University examines the effects of weight loss on relationships. For the study, 21 couples in which one partner had lost at least 30 pounds were surveyed.

According the researchers, the impact of weight loss was often a positive one. In such instances, the partner who lost weight was able to talk about his or her changes – and, in doing so, inspire his or her partner to adopt a healthier lifestyle. These couples were able to bond over lifestyle changes and enjoyed improved physical and emotional intimacy.

But this wasn’t always the case.

For other couples, the impact of weight loss was negative. In some cases, the individual who lost weight nagged his or her partner to lose weight. This nagging led to added relationship tension. Moreover, some individuals reported feeling threatened or insecure because of their partners’ weight loss. These individuals tended to make critical comments, be less interested in intimacy and even tried to sabotage the success of their partners.

For better or worse, losing weight does affect relationship dynamics. But rather than dissuade someone from losing weight, researchers suggest:

[This study] should encourage people to be aware of the potential pros and cons of weight loss on their relationship. It is really important for the partner of someone trying to lose weight to be supportive of their significant other without feeling threatened by their health changes. This approach will help people lose weight without jeopardizing the quality of their relationship.

In other words, communication is hugely important. This is true of all relationships at all times, but especially true when experiencing or undertaking a life change like weight loss.

Have you ever lost weight in a relationship? How did it change your relationship?

Top 7 Dieting Mistakes.

diet-tips1So you want to lose weight and embark on a healthier lifestyle? Great!

But when it comes to dropping excess weight, knowledge is truly power. As a certified personal trainer, I’ve seen many, many people make the same missteps over and over again. Today, let’s learn from their mistakes and not let history repeat itself.

Here are the top 7 dieting mistakes:

  1. Buying “low fat” foods. As it turns out, the label low fat isn’t synonymous with healthy. And our bodies need good, essential fats. Limiting unhealthy saturated fats is a smart move, but ensure that you still get plenty of the good fats found in olive oil, nuts and avocados.
  2. Doing lots of cardio and no strength training. It’s true that cardio can help create the calorie deficit that’s needed to lose weight, but many dieters skip the weight room entirely. Without strength training, cardio is more likely to burn off both fat and muscle. And less muscle mass means a slower metabolism. It becomes a vicious cycle. The long and short of it is keep lifting weights!
  3. Starvation. To lose weight, a calorie deficit is necessary. A good calorie deficit occurs when we consume fewer calories through dieting and burn more calories from exercise. However, some dieters take things to the extreme and severely restrict calories to less than 1,200 for women and 1,500 for men. Caloric intake at this low level results in a massive slowdown in the body’s metabolism; energy is conserved to keep you alive. Eventually, you’ll need to eat. And when you do, your metabolism will be so slow that weight gain is unavoidable. Starvation is unhealthy and counterproductive.
  4. Drinking diet soda. Sure, diet sodas are calorie-free, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a wise choice for dieters. Though more research is needed, a handful of initial studies have linked diet soda consumption and artificial sweeteners to weight gain and obesity. One theory is that artificial sweeteners feed our sweet tooth – and thus cause us to crave other sugary, unhealthy foods. The moral of the story is stick with water.
  5. Skipping meals. There is a misconception that skipping meals saves calories. According to researchers, people who eat fewer than three meals a day end up eating more calories in total throughout the day. Pace yourself by eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  6. Relying on fad diets. Some fad diets do work – but usually only for a short period of time. You can’t eat cabbage soup, for example, for the rest of your life. The problem is that most fad diets are pumped full of gimmicky marketing but short on lasting, sustainable results. Eating smart and exercising might not sound sexy, but it works.
  7. Measuring progress in pounds or kilos. Scales don’t tell the full story, and too many people get caught up weighing themselves every day. Evaluating your progress is crucial for success – as you can determine what is and isn’t working – but think beyond the scale. Body fat measurements are more accurate. Measuring your waist is also smart. Take before and after picture to monitor your journey. Pay attention when your clothes start to fit differently.

Be a smarter dieter by putting the above knowledge into practice. If you need more help achieving your weight loss goals, download The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program. Use discount code “youtube” during checkout to save 25%!

And in the comments below, share any more tips that you might have!

7 Tips: Healthy Vacation Eating.

HealthWatch-06_10For the last 31 days, I’ve been jet-setting around the globe on a world tour to meet fans and to film content. Incredible as the tour was, from a health perspective, 31 days of eating in restaurants, planes, food courts and cafes posed a real challenge for my body.

So, I created a strategy. And spoiler alert, it worked.

Here are the 7 rules that I created for myself:

  1. Drink lots and lots and lots of water. I can’t stress this enough. Water has so many amazing and wonderful benefits including clearer skin, increased productivity, decreased cancer risk – and even a metabolic boost. Drink more. Weigh less.
  2. Eat for fuel, not pleasure. Okay, this one is a bit tricky. I don’t like the idea that eating healthy means forgoing flavor. There are tons of healthy, delicious and nutritious meals – especially if you’re cooking at home. When traveling, it’s a bit more difficult. So I prioritize the nutritional value of food over its flavor. Sure, pizza would be delicious. But a colorful salad topped with grilled chicken is what my body reallt needs. You don’t have to love the way every meal tastes. But you’ll certainly love the way it makes you feel – and that counts for a whole lot more.
  3. Look for the 12 unhealthy restaurant menu words. Anything that says Alfredo, pan-fried, crispy, battered, au gratin, etc. doesn’t belong in your stomach. Instead, clue into words like steamed, grilled, broiled or baked. In general, they’ll point your toward healthier food choices.
  4. Stock up on high-fiber fruit. When we traveled for my tour, we really didn’t stay in any one city long enough to go grocery shopping or to prepare meals on our own. But I did find a few minutes to sneak out to a local convenience or grocery store and buy some high-fiber fruits like apples. Because fiber is slow to digest, an apple snack is a great way to curb your hunger. When you do go out to eat, you’re much less likely to overeat.
  5. Don’t drink your calories. Okay, you’ve heard this one before. But consider how many more calories are packed into restaurant meals versus what you’d be cooking at home. All the extra butter, cheese and grease doesn’t help – not to mention extra large portion size. It’s possible to offset some of those additional calories by sticking to water as a beverage of choice. The only exception would be a nutrition-packed drink, such as a real fruit smoothie made with an unsweetened almond milk base (versus an apple juice base which is loaded in sugar and calories).
  6. Customize your meals. Don’t order exactly as it is from the menu. Most restaurants are happy to make substitutions. Cut out the mayo. Ask for the dressing on the side. Get a sandwich without cheese. Ask for dry toast. Substitute a side item for salad or steamed vegetables. Get brown rice instead of white. While small, each of these substitutions will instantly upgrade your meal.
  7. Pay attention. It’s not about starving yourself or going crazy, but it is about paying attention to the food that goes into your body. Make each food decision consciously and deliberately. This doesn’t mean avoiding gelato in Italy, but it might mean enjoying a few spoonfuls rather than a whole container.

As a bonus tip, it’s important to be realistic. Traveling and eating healthy are real challenges, and so it’s not a good time to embark on a diet or weight loss plan. It’s more about minimizing the damage or trying to maintain your current level. And good nutritional habits should be complemented with good exercise habits. Even while traveling – or, especially while you’re traveling – go to the gym to prevent muscle mass loss and to burn off those extra calories.

How Your Subconscious Mind Sabotages Weight Loss.

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Today’s guest post is by Davey Wavey’s good friend and spiritual weight release coach, Diane Petrella. Diane is also one of the contributors to The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program.

Early in our lives we’re “programmed” with certain beliefs that shape us. For example, if you were praised and supported as a child, you most likely developed a sense of confidence. But if you were repeatedly ridiculed, especially about your weight, deep down you may feel unworthy. This belief may erode your confidence even as you strive to do all the right things to lose weight.

When there is something you desire, but can’t seem to make happen—like losing those last 20 pounds, for example—chances are your subconscious, hidden beliefs are blocking you. Your conscious mind is like the tip of an iceberg. It’s visible and obvious. From this place your desire is clear: “I want to lose weight.”

Your subconscious mind, however, is the mass of ice below, hidden beneath the surface.  It carries beliefs rooted in your past and is much more powerful than the small tip above. To permanently lose weight, your conscious and subconscious minds must agree. For example, if your subconscious mind says, “I’m a failure,” your journey may feel hard. But if your subconscious mind says, “I’m worthy and capable of reaching my weight loss goal,” you most likely will.

Meet Alice

Overweight since childhood, Alice wanted to lose 50 pounds. She believed her weight was the reason she couldn’t meet another man after her divorce. She and her ex-husband were childhood sweethearts and now that she was older, she believed no one would want to date her.

Whenever Alice attempted to improve her lifestyle habits to lose weight, she stopped eating healthfully. This pattern continued for several months, even as she earnestly wanted to become thinner. Because she understood the power of her beliefs, she examined what kept getting in her way. Alice discovered contradictory beliefs that sabotaged her progress.

On one level, Alice wanted to lose weight. But on a deeper level, she feared men wouldn’t want to date her even when she was thinner. She often said, “Who would want someone like me?” Staying overweight paradoxically offered Alice both hope and protection—hope that “someday” she’d meet a man when she was thinner but also protection from being rejected by men when she was thinner.

What a double bind!

Alice’s Strategy

Alice reached her goal weight, and while she hasn’t yet begun dating, the confidence and self-assurance she feels makes that less of a priority.  Here are the steps Alice took to release negative and contradictory beliefs that held her back:

Positive Affirmations
Alice strengthened her self-talk by frequently repeating these affirmations to herself: “I am loveable,” “I am worthy,” “I am beautiful.”

Thought Stopping
Whenever Alice became afraid or thought she was unworthy of being loved, she deliberately stopped herself. She took several deep breaths to calm her body and then said to herself, “This thought is not a fact. It’s just a belief I’ve had for a long time. I choose to let it go.”

Visualization
Every day Alice used visualization to imagine herself five pounds lighter. Once she reached that goal, she’d imagine herself five more pounds lighter, and so on. Visualizing small steps helped Alice slowly adjust to changes in her body and feel less afraid of reaching her goal weight.

Emotional Freedom Technique
Alice used an energy psychology technique called EFT or Tapping to help eliminate her limiting belief of “I’m not worthy.” Considered a cousin to acupuncture, EFT is a process of using your fingertips to tap on certain energy meridian pathways on your body. EFT has been shown to be very effective with helping to eliminate limiting beliefs as well as anxiety, fears, and other psychological blocks.

Support
Besides counseling, Alice routinely interacted on Calorie Count’s on-line forums and sought additional support through Overeaters Anonymous. These resources helped her feel less isolated and offered her much needed encouragement.

It’s not your fault if you’re having a hard time losing weight if you don’t even know what hidden obstacles are blocking you. But if you want to reach your goal, it’s up to you to find out. As Alice did, learn to identify limiting beliefs and remove the emotional obstacles that keep you stuck. Doing so will not only help you release weight with greater ease, your results most likely will be permanent.

Losing Weight: When Nothing Works?!

Hi Davey,

I’m a 22 year old girl who has always been a bit overweight but now I’m definitely obese. I’ve tried to lose weight through several diets and to stay active, but almost always have failed.

My two biggest problems are 1) I’m incredibly lazy and I just can’t be bothered to go out to have a walk 2) I don’t like most of the fruits and vegetables that are recommended for a diet.

Do you have any tips or some way to stick to the diet and, above all, to avoid being so damn lazy?

Love,
Melissa

yesyoucanHey Melissa,

Thanks for the thoughtful and honest email. I have to warn you, my response is going to contain some tough love.

But first, it’s worth noting that losing weight isn’t just about moving more and eating smarter – though obviously both are crucial to the weight loss process. For a lot of people, losing weight can have a deep psychological component. Often times, weight issues are interwoven with childhood trauma, sexual abuse and so on. Some people eat food to self-soothe. Some people fear being perceived as attractive. Some people fear their own greatness.

In these instances, it’s important to reach out for professional help.

Having said all of that, you mentioned that your two biggest problems are laziness and a dislike of healthy food.

If you’re too lazy to exercise, then health isn’t a priority for you. And it’s a waste of time for you to embark on a fitness program. You need to really, really want the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to stay motivated.

Ask yourself, why do I want to be fit? Maybe you want to have a family and raise children – and be there for them. Maybe you want to live a long, healthy life – and be alive for your grandchildren. Maybe you don’t want to burden your family with the health ailments that obesity will likely bring. Maybe you love life too much to die an early death. These are the things that motivate me… but make your own list.

According to one study, obesity trims 10 years off of your life. If that doesn’t motivate you to take a walk, then I can’t really help you.

And yes, I know that not everyone enjoys eating fruits and vegetables. A doughnut tastes better than kale – but take into account how foods make your body feel. After eating a doughnut, your body feels slow and sluggish. After eating kale, you’re energized and lively. We don’t eat food just for taste, but also as fuel for our body. Make this distinction.

Over time, you may find that you do develop a taste for healthy foods. While steamed broccoli doesn’t excite me, a fresh, colorful salad definitely does. In other words, you don’t always have to pick between flavor and nutrition; some foods have both.

Last but not least, don’t underestimate the power of a positive mindset. Switching from a mindset of I can’t and I don’t to I can and I do makes a huge difference. Be your own loudest cheerleader, even if you’re still unsure of yourself!

Again, thank you for such an honest email. You’re certainly not alone in your obstacles, but I hope you find the strength and motivation to step up and achieve your fitness goals.

Love,
Davey Wavey

How to Lose Fat From Thighs.

Hey Davey,

I have a question and would like your advice: I’m a slim guy with a fast metabolism but I have gained a lot of fat on my thighs. Now my jeans are getting tight and I don’t like it. What’s the best way for getting rid of extra weight on your thighs?

From,
Eddie

Example-of-Big-Thighs-139656

Thick is in.

Hey Eddie,

I have good news and bad news.

First, the bad news.

The desire to spot-reduce weight is something that I get asked about often. Unfortunately, that’s not how weight loss works; it’s not possible to reduce fat in just one particular area of your body.

When you lose fat through proper diet and exercise, that excess weight comes off the entire body and according to its own agenda. You may lose fat in some areas quicker than others. There’s no guarantee.

Having said that, excess fat is lost through a combination of diet and exercise. By moving more and eating smarter, you create the calorie deficit that is required for weight loss. You’ll take in fewer calories than you burn (a safe calorie deficit is a few hundred calories per day) and the excess weight will come off slowly but surely. And by combining diet with exercise, you’ll ensure that the lost weight is primarily fat and not muscle mass.

Now, the good news.

Some people have naturally thicker thighs, and that’s perfectly okay. Part of what makes this world so interesting is that we all come in different shapes and different sizes. Moreover, thick thighs can be sexy, strong and beautiful.

If you exercise and eat smart… and still have thick thighs, then learn to love and embrace them!

Love,
Davey

7 Tricks to Cut Calories.

How-to-Cut-CaloriesWeight loss happens when your body is in a calorie deficit. That is, you take in fewer calories than your body burns. For lasting and sustainable weight loss, the calorie deficit is created by moving more and eating smarter.

Cutting calories sounds like a daunting task. But the truth is, just cutting a few hundred calories per day is enough for most of us to make significant progress toward our weight loss goals. It doesn’t need to be a difficult, expensive or time-consuming process.

For some easy calorie cutting, put these tips to use for you!

  1. Drink your coffee black. You’ll cut out 120 calories without cream and sugar (not to mention 18% of your daily value of saturated fat and 12 grams of sugar).
  2. Leave the cheese off of your sandwich. And don’t use mayo or butter. Guess what? It’ll still taste great. You’ll slim your sandwich by 200 calories – and you’ll still feel just as full!
  3. Order a glass of water in between drinks. If you’re out or enjoying happy hour, remember that many alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories but devoid of nutrition. While eliminating alcohol altogether may seem unrealistic, space out your drinks by having a glass of water in between.
  4. Replace soda with mineral or sparkling water. It will still give you some fizz and flavor, but without any empty calories. A single cup of Coke has more than 180 calories.
  5. Don’t eat the pie… crust. We all need to live a little. Clearly, pie isn’t the healthiest dessert choice – but if you do indulge, do so sensibly. By not eating the crust, you slice nearly 100 calories out of your pie serving. Similarly, if you do have ice cream, get it in a cup instead of a cone. Or top your dessert with a few berries instead of globs of chocolate syrup.
  6. Get a smaller dinner plate. Not only do smaller plates hold less food, which translates to fewer calories, but research shows that smaller plates trick our minds into feeling fuller. By moving from a 9″ dinner plate to an 8″ dinner plate, you can cut an average of 200 calories out of your meal.
  7. Substitute in your recipes. If you’re making meatballs, replace half the meat with brown rice. If you’re baking, substitute avocado or applesauce instead of butter.

While these tips might not apply to all people everywhere, the strategy works and is universal. In your everyday life, it’s very easy to cut a moderate amount of calories while still maintaining the quality of life that you enjoy. Making smarter choices here and there can (and does!) add up over time.

What are some other tips you have for cutting calories? Let me know in the comments below!

A Dark Secret Behind Weight Loss.

sad-alone-boyToday’s guest post is by Davey Wavey’s good friend and spiritual weight release coach, Diane Petrella. Diane is also one of the contributors to The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program.

Were you sexually abused as a child or teen? Do you struggle to lose weight as an adult? If this applies to you, you’re not alone. Sexual abuse is a hidden secret behind weight loss difficulty for many people. While rarely discussed, without this information even the most well-intentioned weight loss advice falls short. But once you understand the deep connection between sexual abuse and carrying extra weight, you’re no longer held back by experiences from your past. Releasing weight can begin to feel more manageable and feeling confident about your body becomes possible.

Studies show that one in four women and one in six men have experienced some form of sexual molestation before the age of eighteen. Depending on the level of the trauma experienced, it’s not unusual for a child victim to later struggle with addictions, poor body image, eating disorders and obesity.

Barbara’s Story

Obese most of her life, Barbara worked with a dietician to help her lose weight for good. She learned about eating healthfully and mindfully, began an exercise program, and took steps to improve her lifestyle. Whenever she made progress, however, her motivation waned. Rather than feel excited about weighing less, she felt a vague discomfort. Anxiety set in. She felt vulnerable and used food to cope. Realizing emotional issues blocked her client’s progress, Barbara’s dietician referred her for counseling.

In our first session, I learned that Barbara’s grandfather sexually abused her for years during her childhood and adolescence. Her weight gain, as well as turning to food when depressed and lonely, began during that time. It became clear that exercise and nutritional guidance alone were no match for the monstrous weight of underlying fear, anger, and shame that Barbara held deep inside.

A Confusing Paradox

Barbara wanted to be thinner but the frightened child inside her didn’t. While Barbara was afraid she’d never lose weight, her subconscious mind was afraid she would.

Let me explain. On a subconscious level excess weight offers emotional protection from unwanted sexual advances. For example, Barbara wanted a thinner body but felt safe in a large one. She often said, “When I get thinner, men notice me and you know what that means.” She associated being thin with being sexually vulnerable even though, on a conscious level, she desperately wanted to lose weight. Once Barbara understood how the sexual abuse trauma she experienced influenced her weight loss attempts, she felt liberated. She then embarked on a journey that not only helped her come to terms with what happened to her as a child, she began to love her body for the first time in her life.

The subconscious fear of unwanted sexual advances is but one aspect of how childhood sexual abuse creates obstacles to successful weight loss in adulthood. Other issues include compulsive overeating to cope with overwhelming feelings and memories, shame about being abused which exacerbates shame about being overweight, and feeling disconnected from one’s body.

Here are five strategies that helped Barbara begin her new path. Perhaps they will help you, too:

  1. Safety First: It’s essential that your home and work environments feel safe. Before embarking on your weight loss journey, seek help to resolve or leave any physically or emotionally abusive relationships. You can’t help your “inner child” feel safe if you’re not safe.
  2. Visualize Small Steps: As you release weight, subtle insecurities may develop, especially in summer months when wearing fewer clothes. Underlying fears about being thin may make it hard to even imagine yourself at your ideal weight. That’s OK. Use visualization to see yourself three to five pounds lighter, then three to five pounds lighter after that. Develop safety in your imagination first to help you feel safe in your body later.
  3. Take Yoga Classes: Because your body was the object of abuse, experiencing body image issues or feelings of disconnection from your body, is common. Yoga is a gentle and powerful way to help you feel more connected with your body. Over time, as you develop confidence with your body, underlying fears about releasing weight begin to lessen and distorted images about your body begin to improve.
  4. Nurture Your Soul: Trauma leaves behind so much internal chaos, that it’s often hard to trust your intuition. Spend time each day, even ten minutes, to do something calming that soothes and grounds you. Whether you listen to soft music, read inspirational articles, or write in a journal, create a daily habit of reflective “me” time to quiet your mind and nurture your soul. This helps you hear the whispers of your own authentic voice guiding you along your journey.
  5. Get Support: Don’t travel this road alone. Seek out support from a trusted friend or relative. Talk to a professional who can assist you in ways your friends cannot. To find a psychotherapist in your local area, use this therapist finder tool at Psychology Today.

It’s not easy to have a history of sexual abuse and be struggling with weight loss at the same time… but healing does happen. Other people, including Barbara, have overcome these issues and also reached their weight loss goals. With the right approach and support, you will, too.