GETTING INTO SHAPE AFTER HAVING A BABY
One of the most common problems facing new mums is losing weight after having a baby. I can remember discussing various diets with my girlfriends and looking forward to recovering my pre-baby body. I also remember really struggling with being on a diet and not quite succeeding. My friend’s experiences are quite similar to mine. So why do diets so often don’t work? I did not get my answers until quite a few years later when I was seeing clients as a counsellor and having counselling myself.
If you are looking after a lively toddler (or two!), you might be craving food because you are tired, not because you are hungry. Before starting on yet another diet, which is likely to make you even more exhausted, it is worth asking yourself a few simple questions: Why am I reaching for food now? Am I tired? Sleepy? Just need some comfort? There are many other ways of fulfilling these needs rather than food.
Losing weight isn’t easy – otherwise, why would overweight people continue to put up with prejudice, disapproval and feelings of guilt and shame?
In fact, almost one in four adults in England is classified as obese.
There is no genetic explanation why some people are unable to regulate their food intake. Research indicates that the answer may lie in our emotional relationship with food.
It may not be real hunger that pushes us to reach for second helpings, but actually a response to an emotional need elsewhere, which is nothing to do with food.
Well known weight loss companies have for many years successfully used group counselling techniques to help people lose weight.
In my practice, I work with clients on resolving emotional blocks that prevent them from achieving their perfect weight.
During sessions we first find out what the client’s relationship with food really is. What does he or she feel just before reaching for food? And what about after? What do they say to themselves when they overeat?
Next, we explore what being overweight means to my client. We experiment with my clients seeing themselves thin and imagining how their life is going to change as the result.
We discuss the role food played in a family of origin – what messages were given by parents about eating or not eating? What cultural attitudes to food were predominant? How were overweight people regarded?
If you would like to lose weight, start noticing when you overeat – do you reach for biscuits when you are tired? Upset? Anxious? Is there anything you can do to deal with your emotional discomfort instead of eating? Paying attention to and resolving a psychological issue is a way to loose weight for good, much more effective than a crush diet (which is likely to make you even more stressed and irritable).
Taking supplements might also help you lose weight after pregnancy. Certain food cravings indicate that your body is lacking vitamins or minerals. For instance, if you can’t live without peanut butter, it means that your vitamin B intake is insufficient. Taking a supplement instead of dipping into the jar will greatly improve your waistline!
Craving cheese is often a sign of Calcium and Phosphorus deficiency. Try taking a supplement or eating more broccoli – it is high in calcium and phosphorus and has a lot less calories than cheese.
If you need comfort food when you are stressed – give Omega 3 a try and make sure you take it for at least a month. Essential Fatty Acids improve brain functioning and might make you feel calmer and clear the brain fog.
Quite often food cravings are not a sign of a particular vitamin shortage, but just indicate that you need rest. One client complained that she was a chocolate addict and could not get rid of the habit. A born perfectionist, she could never take a break and relax, so the chocolate for her became a substitute for a good rest.
Research indicates that overweight people, who try, but don’t manage to loose weight, often don’t have clear motivation. So when you decide to loose some weight, first ask yourself – how thin would you like to be? What does being thin means for you? Do you know your ideal weight and have a clear plan of how to reach it? Otherwise, your weight loss program will become just another exercise in self-criticism and low self-esteem.
Don’t blame yourself for an occasional chocolate or second helpings. Internal criticism is not likely to stop you eating too much, but will definitely make you feel bad and as a result – more comfort eating! Pay attention to your feelings and look after yourself, then you will not only achieve your perfect weight, but also learn to live in harmony with your body.
Anna Storey at www.annastorey-counselling.com