The trauma of obesity

I wanted to talk about something a little deeper today that is near and dear to my heart.

Obesity is a complex disease as many of you may already know. It's not as simple as food in and food out like many "diets" make you believe. There are genetic factors, biochemical factors, gut bacterial factors, and so many other things that can affect weight gain to create obesity, not to mention all of the other correlating issues like cancer and heart disease. To sum up, obesity is the result of complex issues. And, trauma can occur prior to obesity or as a result of obesity.

I see people all the time plagued with self-doubt, fear, anxiety, depression, and a lack of self-belief. Sure, self-doubt is something that EVERYONE struggles with, even the skinny minnies... but when it comes to more paralyzing fear of being seen, being judged, being vulnerable, and asking themselves "can I really do this?" to just about anything, those who are fighting the fight of obesity have the pressure of constant negativity, unworthiness, and of course social pressures breathing down their backs.

Not to mention the double messages sent by society that fast food is acceptable, and at the same time so is extreme thinness. These mixed messages create even more complexities in terms of what is acceptable and what is not for an obese person, leaving them stuck in shame spirals and self-loathing.

A few years ago, I had a client tell me that someone off the street told her mother that she needed to put her on a diet. She was mortified. This was part of the trauma she endured as an obese person. The assumption is from the outside world is that similar to what is seen on My 600lb life, that overweight people eat too much, are bed ridden and unable to care for themselves.

The sad part in this is that no one thinks to ask what's going on psychologically with someone who has a complex medical disorder, that someone would people think it's okay to shame and blame them without a second thought.

Another client told me that growing up her mother and father would focus in on her eating habits and shame her when she talked about food that the other kids were eating at lunch because "it wasn't on her plan".

Although I tend to talk a lot about food and eating behaviors, I want to make sure that we also talk about the other complex social issues that surround obesity too.

Relationship issues and 'settling' in relationships because as humans we are in need of acceptance and connection. Why else are the divorce statistics so high?

Self-esteem and self-worth issues, because WORTHINESS & ENOUGHNESS is a huge factor in the mental and emotional response to obesity. The lack of self-confidence also goes in this bag!

The loss of one's voice - meaning the ability to speak one's mind. Isolation and fearing judgment and criticism create a place where people feel unable to share their perspective, especially if they are minimized and constantly beat down because of their size.

Struggle with creating healthy boundaries & incessant people pleasing, potentially from what was taught in childhood, or because the obese person wants so badly to be liked, loved, accepted that they will sacrifice themselves or overdo it to try to gain love in any way they can.

The inability to commit to a plan because of the consistent self-doubt that plagues the mind. "Am I doing it right?" or "There's got to be something wrong with me" - which creates constant negative self-talk and the need to hop, skip, and jump to everything else to try to find something that works. (P.S. - consistency with ONE thing works!)

There's so many other things that I could go on and talk about that leave people feeling "not enough", and it's important that we realize on this bariatric journey that lifestyle change is key..

And when I say lifestyle change, I don't just mean a meal plan and an exercise routine, but all the other things that make you feel bad, judged, criticized, or to get down on yourself.

This is why the MINDSET portion of your lifestyle change is so important. Mindset incorporates your emotions, your cognitions (the way you think), the way you process all that is going on around you, to help you develop a perspective that is encouraging and focused on helping you grow..

A self-defeatist attitude is part of the old mindset, the new mindset is all about growth and learning.

With obesity, there are many other factors that impact your behavior. Don't think that it's all about food and exercise. There is so much more.

For today's message, I just want you to start thinking about all the things that you are affected by when it comes to obesity. How have you stopped living as a result of living with obesity? How has obesity really affected your life, your mindset, and your emotions?

And, what needs to change internally so that you can not only feel better, but also do better?

What insights have you gained from this email, and if you have any insights you'd like to share with me, hit reply and let me know. I always love hearing from my tribe.