These 5 traits challenge widely-held perceptions about overweight people, namely that they are ill-disciplined, lazy, greedy, irrational in their behaviour, and guilty of putting healthcare services under increasing pressure. The problem with the above judgements is that they overlook personal experiences and the complexities of our relationship with food. They assume that managing weight is black-and-white, that simply by eating less and moving more, you lose weight. But if it were that simplistic, it wouldn’t be such a huge struggle for so many, myself included.
So here are 5 common traits that I've identified from listening to my Heyday clients and my own personal experiences:
Never say ‘no’
For me Catholic guilt and being told as a child to “always be nice to others, pet” meant that saying “NO” was just too much. So instead I binged on crisps and biscuits to quell the anger and helplessness I felt at having to so often say ‘yes’ when it wasn’t what I really wanted. How often do you say ‘yes’ when you really want to say ‘no’?- to spending time with people you do not want to be with, to having visitors you don’t really want, to doing something for someone that you really don’t want to do.
The more I started saying ‘no’ to what I did not want, usually demands from people around me, I also began to say ‘yes’ to what I wanted and what I needed. Practice saying ‘no’ even once today.
Try to say ‘no’ to food as often as you can when you are not hungry. So often we can be concerned about saying ‘no’ when offered food, appearing rude or feeling awkward being the only one not eating. Rejecting food, “I don't want it” puts you in charge, instead of the food being in charge of you.
I’ve noticed that many people who struggle with weight have very high expectations of themselves and tend to be perfectionists. If their eating isn’t perfect, it’s not good enough, hence “I’ve eaten a few biscuits, I’ve messed up. I might as well continue eating”. A problem with black-and-white thinking is that it skews your perspective. Imagine if you spilt a few drops of orange juice on your white shirt, and thought, “It’s a complete mess, it’s destroyed”. The reality is that it can be salvaged. It’s only a few drops.
Never good enough
“I’m not good enough” is what most of my Heyday clients honestly believe. For me the misery of nightly binges, restricting food intake and feeling ashamed of my body meant that my self-esteem was rock bottom. I was highly self-critical and constantly self-blamed.
Imagine what it would be like to have a friend who always criticised you like you criticise yourself? We somehow expect that if we despise and criticise ourselves enough, we will lose weight. If this constant stream of negative self-criticism was effective, we would all have very different bodies by now.
Care too much for others & too little for themselves
Do you notice that every situation that needs fixing is your job and everyone with a problem is your pet project? Your self-care is often quite poor and you feel selfish when you do things for yourself. People who struggle with weight invariably feel guilty about looking after their own needs, and spend most of their energy look after the needs of others.
Asking for help is a no-no, “I don’t want to inconvenience other people with my problems. This is my problem and I need to sort it myself”. You might feel bad when you want or need things for yourself, and the main way you take care of yourself is by eating. Instead of focusing on weight loss, can you start thinking about caring for yourself and looking after your needs?
Have a Heyday
Let’s start a dialogue that empowers you to develop a healthy relationship with food and weight. Send me your comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org