One Man’s Tale To Weight Loss, Weight Gain And The Barrier Determining Long Term Success

12521214053_d8b0285e8d_bCROPPED500How many times have you read stories where people stated, “until I saw myself in that picture, I never realized how serious my weight problem was”?

fat-doctorHow many times have you heard doctors say, “you’re in remarkably good health” even though you know in reality you’re overweight, sedentary, depressed and likely taking multiple prescription medications? If your doctor resembles the picture above, do you think his opinion may lack credibility even though you want to believe him?

The following is a story many of you will relate to:

A 57 year old man (we’ll call him Mr. Smith) weighing 377 pounds was driving to work when he began to experience right arm numbness. He wasn’t overly concerned because a month earlier he had his annual physical exam that revealed NORMAL blood pressure and NORMAL cholesterol findings. Mr. Smith interpreted these two values as a “clean bill of health.” He knew he needed to lose “a little weight” but believed otherwise he was “healthy.”

When he returned home he informed his wife of his symptoms. A google search by his wife resulted in a visit to the hospital where stent surgery was performed for a blocked artery. Further testing revealed the need quadruple bypass. This too, was eventually performed successfully. This FEARFUL cascade of occurrences provided the motivation to begin a rigorous low fat, low sodium, calorie counting nutrition plan. 10 months later, Mr. Smith was 100 pounds lighter.

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THEN THE PROBLEMS BEGAN!

Mr. Smith believed his hard effort to lose weight had ended. He had successfully reached a weight he was satisfied with. This is when:

“old habits gradually resurfaced.”

Back in college (at 180 pounds) his physical activity (tennis and running) and youthful metabolism kept his weight in check.

“After graduating college, getting a time consuming job, marrying a woman who worked  night time hours and no longer exercising, I began to eat out of BOREDOM and LONELINESS.” I reverted to my “old ways” and began eating fried fast foods and larger portions often equivalent to 2 or 3 meals. Within 2 years my weight climbed back to 338 pounds.”

DID THIS MOTIVATE A CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR?

No!

“It annoyed me, but didn’t motivate me.”

.

“I was alive and already did the hard work before.” “I was at a point in life where I felt too comfortable to change.”

Mr. Smith’s surgeries and knowledge that “old patterns” played a major role in his heart disease was not enough motivation to overcome the “joys of comfort food eating” he was engaged in including cheeseburgers, french fries, chips and desserts at every meal.

“I knew losing weight was important, but doctor’s orders weren’t enough to change my behavior.” “I was resigned to the fact my life expectancy was likely to diminish.”

But he kept justifying to himself he was in better health than his doctors suggested.

He was able to play tennis a few times a week rationalizing:

“an unhealthy person would be unable to perform this physical task.”

As his heart condition worsened, he was required to wear a defibrillator vest. This vest was used to shock his heart to restore a normal heart beat.  In one tennis match the defibrillator fired 4 TIMES. Even this event was not enough to compel Mr. Smith to alter his destructive lifestyle eating habits.

Finding justifications (regardless of how irrational they were) to support his damaging lifestyle became his solace. After all, he was still down 40 pounds from his initial heart surgery and the eventual pace maker surgery he underwent provided a “safety net” to maintain a “normal” heart rhythm. He convinced himself he could rely on a mechanical device to maintain his “health.” It was clear at that point he decided there was NOTHING that would change his current lifestyle.

WHAT TURNED MR. SMITH’S LIFE AROUND FOREVER?

His children began developing the same weight problems resulting from the same destructive patterns he was following. He knew the extensive health problems they would face and didn’t want to be the “example setter” for their demise. It wasn’t his own health that motivated him; it was his concern for his children’s well being that motivated his return to a healthy lifestyle.  Since his love for his children had no end point in time, he knew his return to a healthy lifestyle behavior would last FOREVER!

WHAT’S THE COMMON THEME IN BOTH HEALTHY AND UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLE CHANGES?

SATISFYING EMOTIONAL NEEDS!

We, as a society, want to FEEL something. If it’s not going to be quality health, than disease through unhealthy satiety will suffice.

I shared this story to show just how difficult it is to overcome habitual patterns of destructive behavior. Many of us are saying, “this is not me,” when in fact, it absolutely is! Nearly 7 out of 10 people are following this path. Dieting OR exercising OR reducing stress OR _______________(you fill in the blank)…. is the focus, but NOT THE ANSWER!

Discovering the hidden EMOTIONAL NEED(s) providing lifelong motivation for quality health is the solution for so many people. The easier part (we focus too much attention on) are the vehicles used in the process to achieve this goal including (1) nutrition, (2) exercise, (3) stress reduction, etc…

You must ask yourself:

“What emotional need(s) can I identify to create a defiant strength within myself necessary to override my addictive destructive behaviors and patterns?”

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Answer this question successfully and become part of the solution to overcoming ALL major health problems we face today including weight management!

A HEALTHY REALISTIC LIFESTYLE is NOT a buzz phrase; it is a necessity to ACHIEVING and MAINTAINING good quality health!  But, without having a clear emotional need(s) providing ongoing self value for the rest of your life, old damaging patterns will resurface and eventually take your life!

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19 comments

  1. Well said here. A healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be ignored just because you’ve reached your weight goal. It happens to so many folks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Getting the MIND to focus on inner MOTIONAL needs in place of focusing on FOOD is a difficult undertaking for many people. They want to believe FOOD is the CAUSE of their problem, rather than simply the VEHICLE used to sedate emotional imbalances.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Dr. J. Identifying emotional need is key! How many people “eat”’to satisfy that? Too many!! Care for inner needs, shore up your emotional securities makes a difference in your overall lifestyle and eating patterns. It’s not just about weight loss and checking the scale everyday. Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You stated this beautifully, Christine. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an eye-opening article.. How scary to think you are healthy, and then find out you have a multitude of heart and cardiovascular issues.. but I love that you offer the solution at the end.. Truthful and Brilliant. It is not easy, but we must look within ourselves, do a little “soul-searching” to figure out the why, and take conscious action to be healthier. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I want complete “strangers” to realize people in this world (they don’t even know) CARE!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. …Forget to mention that I am going to reblog this. I think this message is so important! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for supporting this concept and caring enough to help others overcome their weight challenges.

      Like

    1. Thank you for sharing this important message.

      Like

  5. So true! Most of the time the reality check comes when something happens to someone important to you. Then you realize you have to change to help them change. That emotional need is a huge thing in everyone one that has almost any kind of weight issues

    Liked by 1 person

    1. …and often the ONE factor removed from any plan of action to reduce weight LONG TERM.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We always need a reason to make changes in our lives, don’t we. Finding the right motivation (emotional need as you’ve rightly stated) is the only thing that pushes is to make a complete u turn from our unhealthy behaviour. Thank you for sharing and proffering a solution. We need more people like you in our society.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. The world is FULL of good people; we simply need to open our eyes and ears in order to see and hear them!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ONCE AGAIN – thank you, Doc! I am just now acknowledging that I’ve grown a tidge “fluffy” over the summer and it’s time for me to get ‘back on track’ but I must also incorporate addressing the emotional issues which enabled the stuff-turned-into-fluff. Hugs for the motivation!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re a wise lady to recognize altered weight is experienced by the MIND as well as the BODY. Address BOTH and achieve better results.

      Like

  8. My weight impacts my health and mental wellbeing and whatever the scales show I have to exercise. It is how I feel and not what anyone says about my looks! My biggest reason to stay healthy is ME and then MY BOYS… I guess that man got it this time lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s because you don’t measure your health on appearance; you measure it on functionality and emotional well being. Scales are unable to offer this type of insight into an individual. Looking into a mirror and seeing the “whole person” (not just the physical image) reveals more about ones status on the health spectrum than a scale could ever explain.

      Like

  9. I will come and read this again….thanks Jonathan, you always know what I need when I need it…LOL

    Like

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