Health Lines: It’s all in the head

Alva Carpenter

Published — Wednesday 7 November 2012

Last update 7 November 2012 6:13 am

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Very few of us are overweight by choice — so why is it that successfully maintaining a healthy weight appears to be one of the greatest challenges in our lives?
Having been involved in dealing with nutrition and weight management for a number of years I have found that the diet industry largely depends upon selling new diets to people so that they will buy the latest celebrity book on the subject. But the diet industry thrives upon people failing to lose weight.
Losing weight is not just a case of buying the book. To lose weight you need to have motivation and mental preparation — let’s call it a mind journey.
You may have been feeling unhappy about your weight for some time, but have not yet been convinced into taking action because the mind and body have not been working together as a team. Successful, permanent change only occurs after a period of contemplation.

Attitude and food
If you have been dieting and remain overweight for some time, you may have developed an unhealthy attitude toward food. Food becomes an enemy and every day becomes a battle with food. Instead of eating for hunger and good health, you start to eat out of boredom, depression or to comfort yourself. Everyone does this to a degree.
So, think about your life. Why do you overeat? Do you need to change things in your life? Write down the answers.
I receive many letters from people who have long-standing weight problems, with a lot of weight to lose. I really feel that what some of the letters have in common is that they are from really super, giving and caring people. Nurturing people, who have a lot to give others but with no time to have their own needs met, spend so much time thinking of others that there is no time or space for their own emotional needs. If you think you fall into this category, here are some things to think about.
• Try to ask yourself why you overeat.
• Is it boredom or depression?
• When did it start, in childhood?
• Was there a trauma in childhood or a family divorce that started you on a path to comfort eating?
• Is there no time or place in your life for your own emotional needs?
Any of these can cause a void and comfort eating sometimes fills this void. When you realize the reason why you overeat, then you can take simple steps toward finding what you want from life and move forward to a more positive, healthy and fitter you.
Make the time to list what you want to achieve in life and try to take little steps toward achieving them each day.

Accept the fact
You are eating more food than your body needs for repair and energy. That is why the excess food is being stored in your body as fat. So, that is why you need to make changes!
Knowledge is power.
No one makes you overeat — you make that choice.
Comfort eating only makes you fatter — so deal with the causes.
Build your confidence — If you say, “I can”, you will. If you say, “I can’t”, you won’t.
Believe in yourself, keep on trying. If you eat something you feel you shouldn’t have, never mind. We are all human, so keep trying. Getting into shape starts in the mind so make a choice everyday to be fit and healthy.

Ask Alva
How do I know if I am overweight? I am 1.6 meters tall and weigh 80 kilos. — Mary B.

Find out your body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. People with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight. People with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese. You can calculate your BMI yourself. Square your height in meters (e.g. 1.6 x 1.6 = 2.56) and then divide this into your weight in kilos (e.g. 80 ÷ 2.56 = 31). Your BMI is 31 and this indicates that you are obese and you need to lose weight for the sake of your future good health. Your ideal weight is around 62 kilos. — Alva

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