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I am devoted to helping people become more of what is possible for them. My commitment, actually my passion, is to help people become more fully alive.

Weight Problems? What Does Your Hunger Really Mean?

Let’s look more closely at a very familiar New Years resolution. It shows up in many peoples lives time and time again, that of weight loss.  Think about all the new industries that are preoccupied with weight loss, diets, weight loss supplements, exercise programs, health clubs etc. etc.  Those industries are successful and continue to expand because they promise hundreds of thousands of people they will lose weight if they use their products.  People sometime lose the five, ten or fifty pounds only to gain it back and often lose it again and again.  So what is really happening here?

To give you an example, a family arrives for therapy with an acting out teen’s behavior.  While the parents stay preoccupied with their child they do not address deeper problems.  Usually the marriage has some deep cracks that desperately needs attention but they are avoiding the reality of this.  So the teen becomes the smoke screen and plays a part in holding the family together.  Quite often if the therapist addresses the marriage they drop out and say “things are a lot better now.”  The deep fears/problems are not addressed because they know there may be consequences good and bad they are not ready to deal with if the marriage changed.

So what does that have to do with weight loss difficulties?  Well what I have seen in my practice over the years is that the “weight loss struggle” is the teen metaphorically speaking. You are expending a lot of your energy on self-control, self-denial, willpower and persistence.  It may help some, but it is only a short term solution.  While our culture seems to value willpower or the “white-knuckle” approach to break an ingrained habit, it is not effective.  Neither is a quick fix although our culture seems to expect such.

What becomes clear is that we overestimate the powers of the conscious mind and we underestimate the power of the unconscious mind.  None of us is pleased to learn that our will is not enough to resolve the problems, because there are always unconscious factors at work.  Back to eating “eat your food with gladness and drink…with a joyful heart…” (Ecclesiastes 9:7) or is your experience more like this.  “He eats in darkness with great frustration, affections, and anger” (Ecclesiastes 5:17)

We eat for a range of reasons that have nothing to do with hunger.  If eating is the teenager mentioned earlier what is behind our emotional eating.  Simply put emotional eating serves a multitude of purposes some as follows.

Distracts us from many painful emotions such as sadness, grief, loneliness, shame, helplessness, anger, anxiety, etc.

Raises our blood sugar levels causing all of our emotions such as depression and anxiety to be numbed somewhat at least temporarily.

Certain foods raise endorphin levels similar to a drug response and elevates mood,  think chocolate or comfort foods, usually refined carbs.  Overly stressed people often use this method of defusing their stress instead of using more effective stress reduction techniques.  Food works as a quick fix in the moment, only to accumulatively attach to our hips, bellies and add to our stress load later.  Certain foods are associated with “the good times.”

Some people believe at a subconscious level if they carry more weight they’ll be safer in the world, or stronger or stay healthier if they associate dying with loss of weight and fragility.
Some people fear the full expression of their sexuality, and use weight to keep themselves from being tested. Other people have had severe early deprivation and attempt to fill their inner holes with food. Geneen Roth who struggled with eating disorders from age 11 for 17 years writes. “What Are You Hungry For?”  If your eating is out of control you might want to read her story.

The above examples are few compared to all the ways your subconscious can interfere with your conscious goals.  What to do?  Take some time, get relaxed, go inward and reflect.  What is your storyline that keeps you stuck around weight issues?  What purpose does your preoccupation with weight, diets, and food serve?  How does it keep you safe? What does it keep you from doing in your life?  What consequents do you fear?  Yes Virginia! There are always consequences when we change, some good, some not so good.  Sometimes families want us to stay just as we are because if we change they get anxious.  They may even up the ante.  Whenever I went on a diet my husband, now ex showed up with chocolates .  Maybe he feared I might stop cooking his three squares.  Whatever my insecurities my dieting caused he never owned responsibility for trying to sabotage my diet. One of the first things I do when somebody comes to me about weight struggles is to ascertain the real culprit.  With their permission using clinical hypnoses or psych K, I am able to address the clients unconscious in order to determine if there is an inner agreement to do the work.  If there are other problems they may have to be addressed first, in order to prevent sabotage.  Often it’s just getting clear what gets in the way, and an agreement to change has to reached in order to get the work done.

Get to know yourself at a deep level and you can realize success, whether its weight issues or other deeply entrenched habits that need to be changed.  Consider the iceberg, only 10% is above the water.  Our mind is much like the iceberg, it’s the 90% below the surface, the  unconscious, that can cause the problems, deserves recognition and respect. The conscious mind is the 10% available to us on a day to day basis.  We tend to honor the conscious mind more in our society.

    “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears out side as fate.” C. G. Jung.

Accept slip ups, they will happen, forgive yourself and start again.


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