By Janis Rosenberg,
Losing weight is one of
the hardest goals to achieve. As a
psychologist who has worked with weight
and food issues with clients and as woman
who has battled extra pounds myself, I
have studied this issue and watched the
popular culture and fad diets move through
many different incarnations. I also work
with individuals who have more severe
eating disorders, either restricting or
bingeing and purging.
There are many reasons
for food addiction and becoming
overweight. Some are chemical and some are
emotional. In my years of helping those
with eating problems, Iíve learned that to
successfully recover, blocks in both the
physical and the psychological realms need
to be understood and resolved.
There is an epidemic of
overeating and obesity in the United
States and now we are hearing this is
becoming truer in other Western countries.
Itís estimated that 65% of Americans are
overweight or obese. Some wonder, with
cheap and easy calorie loaded fast food,
with the sedentary lifestyle that is
especially problematic to children, why
everyone isnít fat. Half of our children
are overweight because television and
video games have replaced family time.
Parents are afraid to let their children
play outdoors. Prevention Magazine quoted
a study that says it only takes 100
calories (one cookie) over your allotted
amount of calories per day to gain 10
pounds in a year. Even if you arenít
compulsively overeating, weight can creep
on as we get older unless some serious
changes in lifestyle are embraced.
Most people who are
overweight have a strong desire to lose
weight, to be healthier, more fit, and
more attractive. We get discouraged for
several reasons: itís not easy; it hasnít
worked in the past; we feel like failures;
we have too much to lose. We give up our
belief in ourselves to be able to do it.
We have no hope that we can stay on the
diet or maintain a healthy eating pattern.
We have tried several diets and many donít
work. This helpless mode comes about
because people give up hope after many
failures, since failure brings about more
shame. Shame is a very potent emotion and
we want avoid it, so we give up trying.
Itís important to
understand the physical or chemical
reasons that make it hard to lose weight.
Dr. Michel Mazouz, a Los Angeles physician
who has been successful in helping many
patients lose weight, explains Metabolic
Disorder as follows:
Metabolic syndrome is a
complication of being overweight that
makes it more difficult to lose weight.
Insulin, the hormone that stores sugar,
takes blood sugar from the blood and
delivers it to the cell. Before diabetes
develops, insulin doesnít work well. The
body compensates by overproducing what
isnít working well. The body overproduces
insulin, which creates more hunger and
craving of sugars and carbohydrates.
Sugars and carbohydrates are harder to
metabolize and may be stored into fat.
High levels of insulin
in the body need to be treated. One fourth
to one third of people in United States
have metabolic disorder, due to obesity.
There are greater cardiovascular risks if
you have metabolic disorder.
Cardiovascular damage starts five years
before diabetes shows up. Dr. Mazouz
treats this with Glucophage, a diabetes
medication, to regenerate the insulin so
the body will stop overproducing it. With
more level insulin levels, the body will
crave less of the insulin producing sugars
that would be stored into fat.
Those who have a
metabolic disorder have a harder time
losing weight. The main symptom patients
can feel with metabolic syndrome is that
eating refined carbohydrates leads to more
hunger. Itís a vicious circle. You eat
carbs or sugars and you create more
insulin and an hour later, your blood
sugar drops and the brain craves more.
Once you start losing
weight, your insulin goes down and you
have less craving. The goal is to increase
lean muscle, which will reduce body fat.
The goal of a food plan
is to feel satiated, that is, being able
to forget about eating for 3 or 4 hours at
a time. Certainly food choice is
important. Letting go of the sugar/ carbs
that stimulate the cravings and eating
more satisfying protein and vegetables
seems to be the most effective way for
most patients. But itís important for you
to find a food plan you can fall into
without it being a strain, or without
Itís important to have
smaller goals so you donít get
overwhelmed. Even a little loss goes a
If you lose only five
pounds, you decrease your cardiovascular
risk by ten percent. With a ten pound
weight loss, you decrease your risk of
developing osteoarthritis by fifty
If you lose ten percent
of your starting weight (say 20 lbs. if
you are at 200 lbs.), you gain a great
deal of the health benefits.
Dean Ornish, who
motivates heart patients to make radical
change, believes you have to appeal to
peopleís emotions, to reframe their ideas
of themselves. Fear isnít as good a
motivator as positive emotions. If I
believe I can have joy, Iím more likely to
change. He also found that radical,
sweeping, comprehensive changes are often
easier for people than small, incremental
ones. ďPeople need to make big changes to
get immediate rewards, whether in health,
weight loss or gains in physical ability.
Then they see that the changes are worth
it. Itís a paradox, that big changes are
easier for people to make than small ones.
Patients often stop taking a
cholesterol-lowering drug, he says,
because they donít actually see the
changes or feel better.Ē (p.60)
Dr. Mazouz believes that
eating to lose weight is different from
eating a healthy balanced diet. He
believes that if the body has less
carbohydrates, it will use the fat stores
more quickly. It isnít about calories, in
his opinion. In Weight Watchers, you can
eat what you want, as long as itís under a
certain amount ohf points or calories .
Weight loss is slow, which can be
discouraging for some. Others like the
freedom to eat carbohydrates and can
manage the portion control and like the
stimulation of the meetings and group