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When weight loss fails

I’m sure that if you have had weight problems in your life, you have tried many things.  Some of them actually worked but required you to totally alter your life, undertaking extreme measures of dieting, food restriction, counting, and other activities that kept you focused on the task at hand.  And when you got to a point where you reached your goal, or could no longer go on, you stopped.  And what happened? You may have held your weight for a time, but your old habits and programming ultimately took over and you began to gain again.

I recently had a client who had tried everything.  She had even tried to sign up for surgery and found out that the medical conditions that she had would prevent her from having a successful outcome.  When she came to see me, she was incredibly committed to losing weight, and the gastric band was just what she wanted.  She was convinced it would work for her.
As I do with every client, I explain that the band is not a magic bullet.  Once it is installed, it must be tweaked, upgraded and tuned so that it works and continues to work.

One of the aspects of the band is that if you decide you are going to throw all your resolve out the window, the band will begin to fail.  After all, it is a device controlled by your subconscious, and if you are into undermining yourself, the band can play no role in that. Yes, yes, she understood all of this and wanted it.  In doing her diet history and learning something about her life, many of her diets and other relationships seemed to run in 2-3 month cycles.  We talked about this because it appeared to me that she had some sort of block to having long term success.
She did extremely well with the band over the course of several months, but one day contacted me to cancel her appointment because nothing was working the way that it had.  I reminded her that what we were doing with the band required her continued commitment for it to work for her and reminded her to listen to the post-surgery CD that I provide for reinforcement.  Over the next several weeks she would almost make appointments, but something was always  in the way, and finally she stopped communicating with me.  As I looked at the amount of time, the band worked for her for almost exactly six weeks.
So what does this tell me?  Each of us has stories we tell ourselves that are self limiting.  For whatever reason – generally stemming from some time in early childhood – we develop these stories as means to explain the world to ourselves.  If you think about the world as a baby, you don’t have a lot of information to work with – you don’t know much, or have an ability to communicate well, or have physical abilities that allow you to test the stories that you are creating.   And because many of these form before we are able to speak, they reside in us as feelings rather than as overt stories, but this gives them no less power over our behavior.
So if you are a baby who decided that things you loved or wanted were removed from you at six weeks, you may have created a story for yourself that this was going to happen so you would never be committed to something or someone for longer than six weeks. It sounds bizarre when you put it in words, but it is very common to make these kinds of commitments to ourselves so that we can avoid pain and loss.
And here you are 40+ years later, unable to sustain diets, relationships, and blaming whatever or whoever for this lack in your life. Once you are able to identify that this story is active in your life, then you can begin to remove its energy.  And all this requires the willingness to accept responsibility for what is going on in your life rather than pushing responsibility away onto others. In every story, there is more than one side, and if it is your life, then you have a side. And if decide to work in therapy on your weight, then not only will you need to be honest with yourself about your food and eating and exercise, you will also need to be willing to accept responsibility for other aspects of your life.  And this is where therapy for weight loss tends to break down.  As long as the client is focused on the problem and is doing limited problem-based work, things progress.  When challenges arise – less weight loss than expected, feelings, other life issues that are being triggered by healthy living – then the tendency is to retreat and blame.
The therapist is not the cause of the challenges, successes or failures. Virtual surgery and any supportive hypnotherapy will work for you if you are committed to making change in your life and working through challenges as they arise. And some days the best you can do is show up and acknowledge that things could be better and use your opportunity and your therapist to help you find new directions and solutions.

3 Comments to When weight loss fails:

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