Sunday, December 30, 2012
So, for the New Year I do NOT have to make "lose weight" one of my resolutions. Why, you may ask? Because this year I've lost nearly 75 pounds! I know I am on the right track, and weight loss and exercise are part of me now. I no longer have to attain, seek or struggle with getting there.
What is my secret? I will tell you my friends. I took a college level class in 2011; it was titled "The Psychology of Eating Disorders and Obesity." That class opened my eyes. I learned that, first of all, being overweight is not all your fault. It is not a lapse in morality. Nor is it a weakness of character.
Thirty percent of obesity is genetic. Seventy percent is environmental. And much of that environment is not changeable by us. Large portions, huge amounts of calorie dense foods, colas that used to be 6.5 ounces are now 20 ounces. Our minds have not changed. We see a portion of food and think that it is a portion. No matter that 40 years ago, that would have been two portions! Our bodies cling to every ounce of fat it can. It is only trying to save energy (in the form of fat) for the next famine. It is only trying to survive. Our primal selves, our bodies, do not know that food is now abundant.
Those of us who suffer from the medical condition known as obesity, must recognize it as such. And what does one do when one is stricken with a serious medical issue? We seek help. Here is what I've learned:
The obese patient can lose weight and keep it off. It is not easy, just as dealing with a broken leg, pneumonia, or diabetes is not easy. But it can be done. I've been going to the Washington Center for Weight Management and Research (WCWM&R). It is run by a superb doctor, Dr. Domenica Rubino. Dr. Rubino has done research on obesity, and is still doing research in addition to the clinic she runs. There is a three pronged approach. I see a dietician, the doctor and a therapist. There are group classes for the dietary and emotional issues as well. There is a meal replacement approach, a partial meal replacement approach and one in which the patient eats their own food. If you work this program, it will work for you.
The program does not end once you've lost the weight. It only really begins there. We all know that most people gain back the weight they've lost within a few years. What I learned in that college class on weight issues, is what is being done at WCWM&R. One study that I read about had obese people in Sweden do a "very low calory diet" (VLCD) and attend group therapy sessions for 1 year. After the diet, they continued to do Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for two more years. A large percentage of those in the program KEPT the weight off years later! Once I attain a weight that I can manage, I will continue at WCWM&R for probably a couple of more years. I want to cement the new relationship I have with food, and I want to continue to treat this condition for the rest of my life.
The take away here: this medical condition called obesity must be managed...for the rest of your life. CBT is a good way to manage the way you deal with food and eating and thus assists you in changing your relationship with food. Just like any other chronic condition that does not have a cure, you must manage it. I hope to go into remission sometime this year. But I will be managing obesity for the rest of my life, no matter what I weigh.
Instead of being unhappy about all this, the fact that I've found a way to manage it, finally, after thirty years of struggle is so empowering and joyful, I just can't keep it to myself! I will forever manage this condition, and by doing so, overcome the ravages of the disease known as obesity.