LOSING WEIGHT – IS IT ALL IN YOUR HEAD?

Have you tried and failed to loose weight? You started on a popular new diet, cutting out all the things you enjoy eating, lost a few kilos, then, after a stressful day at work, came home and had a pack of biscuits at once. Diet failed, you felt even more miserable and desperate than when you started.
After several similarly unsuccessful attempts you just gave up, hating yourself for the lack of will power.

Try to look at it differently.
Losing weight is not about dieting, depriving yourself of your favorite foods and feeling miserable. It is also not about trying to become someone else – a thin model in a magazine or a celebrity. To really loose weight you have to engage in a slow process of becoming yourself – learning to take care of your needs and listen to your body, starting to like yourself a bit more. As a counsellor, I would agree with the view of Ayurvedic medicine, which states that obesity is often an external manifestation of our emotional problems.
I would not even call this process “loosing weight”. It implies loss and has a negative connotation. I would rather say “getting into shape”, finding your natural weight and staying that way.

So where do we start?
For a start, I would advise to do what in psychotherapy is called “a reality check”. This means looking at your fantasies, anxieties and assumptions and seeing “what is really happening”. For instance – how do you see yourself? If you see yourself as fat, then how do you know that it is true? Is your judgment based on the facts – like your dress size or your BMI? Or is it part of your negative self-image, that is part of the bigger problem called low self-esteem? In that case, it would be advisable to work through your issues in counselling and then reassess the situation. Or maybe you are told you are overweight by your friends, family, partner? Was it always your role in the family – to be a “fat one”? Reality check will help you see things as they are, not as you imagine them to be.

But what if after careful consideration you have established that you are, indeed, overweight, and would benefit from losing a few pounds?
Then we will need to explore what is it that you are trying to lose?
What your extra weight is for you? On the surface, we might hate being fat and would love to loose weight as soon as possible. But quite often there is a hidden reason why we are staying fat. Unless we discover what it is that is holding us back, all our attempts at dieting will fail.
An example could be my client from Aylesbury, Sarah*, who tried many diets and always ended up putting on more weight that she had lost. When I suggested to Sarah that she imagines herself being thin, she got very anxious and was unable to focus. Exploring the roots of this anxiety, we discovered that, for Sarah, her weight was some kind of protection. Without it, she imagined herself being vulnerable in the hostile world. Working with this vulnerability and restoring my client’s self esteem allowed Sarah to psychologically let go of her extra pounds and she started losing weight slowly but permanently.

Another client, Helen* from Oxford, used her body shape as an excuse for not making changes in her life. She was putting up with a dead end job “because no one is going to hire somebody so fat”. She also avoided thinking about her abusive relationship, “because if she will leave no one else will want her”. Through therapy, Helen’s feeling of self-worth increased dramatically and she subsequently felt able to make necessary changes in her career and relationships. When she stopped using her extra pounds as an excuse for her passivity, she no longer needed them and lost weight naturally.

After you find out what being overweight means for you and achieve clarity, you can then start building a new relationship with food. Your first step will be to find out how is this relationship working at the moment.

*all names have been changed

Who is talking in your head?

talking in yourheadMy clients are often surprised to hear that most of us have some sort of internal dialogue going on. “Hearing voices in your head” does not necessarily mean you are going mad – it just means that you have become aware of your internal dialogue.

Transactional Analysis regards this dialogue as an internal communication between ego-states. An ego-state is the set of related behaviors, thoughts and feelings. It is a way we manifest a part of our personality at a given time.

If I am behaving, thinking and feeling in response to what is going on around me here and now, using my resources as a grown-up person, I am said to be in my Adult Ego-state.

At times, I may behave, think and feel in ways which are a copy of one of my parents or parent figures. On this occasion, I am said to be in my Parent Ego-state.

Sometimes, I may return to ways of behaving, thinking and feeling which I used when I was a child. It might indicate that I am in my Child Ego-state.

The internal dialogue between ego-states might be experienced as thoughts; for example, self-critical thoughts might come from Parent to a Child ( «You could have managed this situation better!» «You ought to have apologized first»). Although if the criticism is valid and relevant to the situation the message might be coming from Adult.
Child may then comply and accept the criticism («Yes, I should have managed it better. I am no good.») or rebel against it («I have done my best!») Self-pitying thoughts can be directed from Child to Parent(«Nobody likes me») to which Parent may respond in a supportive («Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with you») or in a punishing manner («You brought it upon yourself!»)

Sometimes you can hear your actual parent’s voice talking in your head or it can be a voice you don’t know or can’t remember.

Learning about the content and quality of your inner dialogue allows you to bring confusing thoughts and feelings into your Adult awareness. Once unraveled, your inner voices will loose their power and will stop interfering into your daily life.

Vitamins and supplements to alleviate stress

FullSizeRender-35VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING

In my practice as a counsellor I often meet people who were advised by their GP to take an antidepressant, but are reluctant to do so. Counselling enables you to address the issues that make your life stressful, but I would also suggest small changes in your diet and lifestyle, that will make a big difference.

These are the vitamins and supplements you might consider taking before starting on a serious medication.

Research indicates that the majority of mentally and emotionally ill have deficiencies in B-vitamin complex. The recommended daily dose is 25-50mg daily. Even completely balanced and happy people tend to become depressed and experience other symptoms of emotional disturbance when made niacin or folic acid deficient.

Another mineral, essential for our mental wellbeing, is Magnesium. It is important for proper nerve functioning. Recommended dose – 250-500 mg daily. Calcium alleviates tension and promotes relaxation, recommended daily dose – Calcium, 500-1,000mg.

Omega-3 is another great mood booster – it contains DHA, which forms about half of all the fat in brain cell membranes. It is needed to build and preserve pliable brain cell structures so the brain can work effectively. DHA is shown to improve mood by boosting serotonin levels. You need to take a supplement for at least a month before you will feel the difference. When you buy a supplement, make sure it contains both EHA and DHA.

Give these vitamins and supplements a try and enjoy increased levels of energy and vitality!