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Question
Posted by: Me | 2010/10/01

Not at a happy place

Hi Dr. Graham

Thank you for this wonderful forum. I have been reading it for a while and would like to ask some questions.

I am a 43 year old female. As a teenager I started going on diets. My weight fluctuated throughout my 20s. I married the wrong person at 23 and was in a very abusive marriage untill my 30s when I got a divorce. During this time food consumed most of my time and thought. I fluctuated between a size 10 and a size 18. In my late 30s I met a wonderful man, got married, and had a beautiful boy at 38. Suddenly I was happy fine and thin. I lost allot of weight breastfeeding and food did not consume my life. However after I stopped breastfeeding I picked up some weight and decided to go on a diet (dr Cohen). Big mistake.
I lost 8 kgs. Went down to 59kgs (am 1.67m). I felt wonderful, but all the thoughts about food came back and I started obsessing about food again. When I stopped the diet I just couldnt get enough carbohidrates into my body. I started eating alone again and started hating myself again. Binged over weekends and was back on the diet on a Monday just to cheat again on the Tuesday.
I went back to 65kgs within about 3 weeks. Couldnt believe it. I have settled a little at this weight and have decided now to just try and eat healthy, but the whole experience was so horrible. And I feel terrible about the fact that I could not control myself. Everyone at work was saying how wonderful I looked and now that they are quiet I feel so stupid. My husband is wonderful and says that he prefers me like this and wants me to be happy with who I am, but I am not at a happy place.
Where do I go from here.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageEating Disorders Expert

Hello “me”,
First, thanks so much for your reference to the forum. I am enjoying my role immensely and hope that I am guiding some people in the right direction. First, let me say that I am very relieved that you had the courage to leave an abusive marriage earlier in your life. Would it be safe for me to assume that your destructive preoccupation with food was symptomatic and reflective of your relationship distress? It is equally relieving to see that you are now married to a “wonderful” man, who appears to accept you unconditionally and wants you to be happy for who you are. My challenge to you is whether you can try and make that a partnership and join your husband in feeling towards yourself the way he feels towards you? Not an easy one, as we do tend to almost always be our own greatest critic. However, this does not excuse you from the challenge and personal responsibility in seeking an equally unconditionally loving relationship with yourself. Yes, I see that you have had many years of mistreating your body with destructive diets and dietary battles, although you seem to have finally learned the lesson that there are no miracle diets, quick fixes or short-cuts. I will not make reference to any single diet, but unless the dietary philosophy is one of eating a balanced and moderated intake, it’s not worth looking at (and certainly not worth buying the book). Oh goodness, no wonder the diet industry pulls in billions, despite the damage it leaves in its wake each year. When are we going to learn to not fall for the temptation of something that seems to good? You know what they say: “If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t”. I have listened to patients for almost two decades repeatedly falling for the false promises, like the lamppost advert that promises you losing 5 kilograms a week. Would you buy financial advice from someone advertising on a lamppost? As I responded to a previous forum question, why are there so many diet books in the bookstore? If just one of them was consistently successful, surely it would b be the definitive text and no one would buy anything else. Make sense? Having already learned the vital lesson that eating in a balanced and moderated way is your best (actually only) bet, you next challenge is to now make peace with your body and accept the body you are naturally predisposed to. If you don’t do that, you are essentially remaining at war with your body and both your body and soul will lose. If you can do so, I really would recommend you consult with a therapist and explore what might lie behind your struggle to accept your already very healthily-sized body. When your son was born, you seemed less preoccupied with food and (body) self-hatred, perhaps because you allowed yourself to just enjoy the wonderful pleasure of being a mum and becoming a family. Perhaps you need to continue along that route and seek more creative meaning in your life(style), and spend less time leaking energy to your self criticism. As much as you valued the affirmation you were receiving from colleagues about your weight loss, their silence now should not be assumed to be a non-spoken criticism. Just because you are being so self-critical, does not equate to others sharing in your sentiment. What is more important than others affirmation is your self acceptance and a loving family (as you appear to have). Do you see what I am getting at? Goodness, I hope this helps.
Regards,
Graham

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4
Our users say:
Posted by: Me | 2010/10/06

Thank you very much for your response. I had tears in my eyes reading it. Maybe just because of your friendly tone and understanding completely where I am coming from. Even though I do have a loving husband and also allot of other wonderful people in my life I feel that none of them understands where I am coming from. I went out yesterday and bought myself a new dress and I think I look wonderful in it. I am going to try and consentrate on the beauty in my life and not the negative. Thank you again for your beautiful response.

Reply to Me
Posted by: Robz | 2010/10/05

I think there is a bigger issue than food at play. Once you have identitfied who and what you are and your self worth regardless of the enviroment you are in the easier it will be to say no to emotional eating. I am no pychologist but I have seen how getting to the real isse at hand assist with weight loss and controling your hunger urges.

I would suggest that you see a physciologist and a dietican who can both assist you identify the real cause of this unending circle.

Good Luck

Reply to Robz
Posted by: Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert | 2010/10/05

Hello “me”,
First, thanks so much for your reference to the forum. I am enjoying my role immensely and hope that I am guiding some people in the right direction. First, let me say that I am very relieved that you had the courage to leave an abusive marriage earlier in your life. Would it be safe for me to assume that your destructive preoccupation with food was symptomatic and reflective of your relationship distress? It is equally relieving to see that you are now married to a “wonderful” man, who appears to accept you unconditionally and wants you to be happy for who you are. My challenge to you is whether you can try and make that a partnership and join your husband in feeling towards yourself the way he feels towards you? Not an easy one, as we do tend to almost always be our own greatest critic. However, this does not excuse you from the challenge and personal responsibility in seeking an equally unconditionally loving relationship with yourself. Yes, I see that you have had many years of mistreating your body with destructive diets and dietary battles, although you seem to have finally learned the lesson that there are no miracle diets, quick fixes or short-cuts. I will not make reference to any single diet, but unless the dietary philosophy is one of eating a balanced and moderated intake, it’s not worth looking at (and certainly not worth buying the book). Oh goodness, no wonder the diet industry pulls in billions, despite the damage it leaves in its wake each year. When are we going to learn to not fall for the temptation of something that seems to good? You know what they say: “If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t”. I have listened to patients for almost two decades repeatedly falling for the false promises, like the lamppost advert that promises you losing 5 kilograms a week. Would you buy financial advice from someone advertising on a lamppost? As I responded to a previous forum question, why are there so many diet books in the bookstore? If just one of them was consistently successful, surely it would b be the definitive text and no one would buy anything else. Make sense? Having already learned the vital lesson that eating in a balanced and moderated way is your best (actually only) bet, you next challenge is to now make peace with your body and accept the body you are naturally predisposed to. If you don’t do that, you are essentially remaining at war with your body and both your body and soul will lose. If you can do so, I really would recommend you consult with a therapist and explore what might lie behind your struggle to accept your already very healthily-sized body. When your son was born, you seemed less preoccupied with food and (body) self-hatred, perhaps because you allowed yourself to just enjoy the wonderful pleasure of being a mum and becoming a family. Perhaps you need to continue along that route and seek more creative meaning in your life(style), and spend less time leaking energy to your self criticism. As much as you valued the affirmation you were receiving from colleagues about your weight loss, their silence now should not be assumed to be a non-spoken criticism. Just because you are being so self-critical, does not equate to others sharing in your sentiment. What is more important than others affirmation is your self acceptance and a loving family (as you appear to have). Do you see what I am getting at? Goodness, I hope this helps.
Regards,
Graham

Reply to Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert
Posted by: marlize | 2010/10/01

Hey you.im in the same boat as you,have been for years.Will it ever end?This isnt a life...

Reply to marlize

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