The Real Food Issue: How To Take Your Body Back Before the Last Diet Sarah was in and out of my office for therapy for three years before she was able to make a full commitment to take her body back. She is (or was) a member in good standing of what I call the American Obesity Society. Anyone with a little time to sit and people watch in airports, malls or other public places will become acutely aware of the obesity epidemic in our society. As a mental health counselor I work with individuals who have struggled for most of their lives to get a handle on their body image issues. From the book "Diets Don' Work You Do" by author Linda Louise Martin you can find incredible information on how to how to recover from an overeating addiction. She herself had a long history of yo-yo dieting and binge eating. She is now a petite, vibrant and energetic sixty something year old that will dress up a pair of jeans as good if not better than a twenty year old model. How did she do it? With a program of recovery that had little to do with dieting but instead included emotional, physical, and spiritual recovery. Once she had some of these issues resolved and some principals of living under her belt she could begin the actual food recovery. I reference obesity as a body image issue because I believe most over eaters have totally lost touch with their bodies from their neck down. When I work with my clients to "take their body back" I ask them to stand in front of a full length mirror and make notes about what they see. Most are totally resistant to doing this exercise because the denial is more comforting than facing the truth. In order to be successful at food addiction recovery a lot of emotional work has to be done before the physical food management and exercise can be effective over the long term. The whole idea of dieting is a ridiculous one to begin with because of its restrictive nature. If I only restrict my intake and do not work on my emotional self I am destined to fail. I know if I deprive the needy child within me long enough she will have to act out and binge! I first help my clients focus on the early messages they received about their bodies, how early they remember feeling shame about it and what they told themselves about it. Questions to ask are: Was there constant focus on body image by a parent, especially the physical attributes and/or how much they ate or weighed? Was there a lot of family ritual around food? Was how they looked more important than who they were? Was a particularly needy parent always leaning on them for emotional support? Does obesity and/or food issues run the family? This begins to help the over weight client to get in touch with the truth about how they feel about their physical self. It is generally a vicious cycle of I don't like myself therefore I eat and I don't like how I look when I gain weight so it effects how I don't like myself. To break this cycle and the cycle of dieting is incredibly challenging. This is why we initially we are addressing the addiction to food and working to build the resiliency needed to tackle, really tackle the weight problem by make a lasting lifestyle change. Speaking of addiction, the twelve step model of addiction and over-eaters anonymous is a free and helpful guide to understanding carb and sugar addiction and to work on the spiritual self. Use the steps as life skills while working on emotional underlying issues. we will see that a number of them offer substantial solutions to the problem of being overweight. There is the fast track exercise video with a workout that only takes minutes. There are several diabetes videos showing the actual cure of what society thinks is an incurable disease. Why then do individuals not follow this good advice and get the weight off? I am famous for saying it is because it is "what is eating them not what they are eating" that causes the fat issue. Yes, I am going to use the ugly word fat instead of the nice word overweight. Whether you are fat or not if you think you are fat it is an issue. Remember the goal is a life of health and wellness. And above all, learn to love and be patient with yourself. It is the key to all permanent weight loss.