Weight Loss Counseling | Austin, TX
Weight Loss by Gaining Emotional Awareness
Emotional weight loss counseling treats overeating in many forms: binge, compulsive, mindless, emotional, nervous, feel good, or the plain variety of simply eating too much. In one of the late comic George Carlin’s routines, he asked the audience if they ever stood in the kitchen, staring at the clock, and ate a whole box of cookies. At first, there were a few nervous giggles, and then, as Carlin’s pantomime emphasized the mindlessness of compulsive eating, the laughter escalated as many in the audience saw themselves up there on the stage.
One of the most important steps in counseling individuals for weight loss, compulsive overeating, and binge eating is helping you understand how your behavior currently works for you. Then can we progress to you working toward doing what you say you want to do. People cannot make permanent lifestyle changes of any kind until they understand and accept themselves, and this is the first step in acquiring an attitude of discipline so necessary for health’s sake. My emotional weight loss counseling practice is geared toward helping you learn the ways in which the all decisions you make in life have a health component. Actively choosing the healthiest path goes a long way toward easier decision making.
In our sessions, we’ll identify stressors that stimulate you to engage in the behaviors you want to change. These stressors often create anxiety about food, uncertainty about what to eat, and raise questions about hunger that lead you to believe that if you can only eat that cookie, you’ll feel better.
Working together during our group or individual emotional weight loss counseling sessions, I will help you understand your experiences. When faced with opportunities to overeat or binge and purge, you will learn to identify and honor your emotions accurately and respond with greater security and confidence. Instead of reacting with compulsive eating, rapid and secretive, you will be able to choose responses that allow you to lose weight sensibly and without hunger.
In addition to achieving greater emotional health, you will be armed with reliable guidelines on exercise and nutrition. You’ll learn how much exercise is enough, how and what to eat, and what to do about cravings for treats and starces that trap you in destructive eating patterns.
What’s the Problem?
As a former high school and university health and physical education instructor, and currently a licensed clinical social worker with nearly 20 years experience working with obese and other eating disordered patients, I rarely see evidence of awareness that sugar is absolutely addictive. It is not that people are addicted to food per se, but to “treat” foods and starchy foods—i.e., sugar in all its forms.
People don’t get fat on green beans, salad and chicken. In fact they will quit eating these foods when they are full. With sugar there is no inherent STOP! signal from the body. Sugar loves for us to eat more sugar. Once people begin to eat their treats, most find eating more sugar like dealing with a siren’s call. Only when nutrition has been balanced out by eating clean foods like fruits, veggies (non-starchies) and protein along with healthy fats over a period of a few days to a couple of weeks can one deal with the cravings that sugar produces.
Calories do count, of course, as Mark Haub’s research pointed out eating cheap gas station grocery-store fast food like Twinkies and Little Debbies. Clearly he was counting his calories, and he maintained a disciplined approach to his diet as he set out to prove that one could lose weight even in healthy-food-challenged neighborhoods where fresh, more wholesome choices may not be readily available.
What we are really talking about is that we do best as human beings when we choose at every opportunity to live our lives in a deliberate and thoughtful way, moment by moment. I sincerely doubt that the 70% of the American population that is overweight and/or obese is ignorant of what makes up a good, nutritious diet. I do believe that we all can ignore good health choices in the service of immediate gratification, and therein lies the problem.
Obesity As A Health Concern
Obesity threatens our collective health and medical pocketbook by putting many at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer. There are many reasons that such a high percentage of our population is overweight, but one of the most significant is the ease with which we can get almost anything we want to eat, 24/7/365. We don’t have to milk the cow, gather the eggs or mill the grain. When we go out to eat, “biggie-up” is often seen as the best choice in food serving sizes.
Obesity treatment is no quick fix. Compared to other weight loss strategies—even lap band surgery—the right treatment plan, including cognitive, behavioral-based therapy, can help you overcome addiction-like feelings to food or sugar. Rather than yo-yo dieting, weight loss counseling can help you achieve change without diet pills or risky surgery. You can acquire an attitude of discipline and mindfulness, being in the moment and learning how to relax. Most importantly, you can take charge of your life and attain enlightening self-wisdom.
Several outside resources that may assist you are:
- Schwarzbein Principle, by Diana Schwarzbein, M.D.
- You on a Diet, by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.
- Wheat Belly, by William Davis, M.D.
- Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter, M.D.
- The Eating Academy, the personal blog of Peter Attia, M.D.
- Nutrition Science Initiative, Gary Taubes and Peter Attia, M.D.
I incorporate ideas from these experts in my emotional weight loss counseling and dieting programs and encourage you to review their books and online resource materials.
Travel the Road to Recovery
Recovery from an eating disorder requires more than simply giving up starvation tactics, stuffing, purging or compulsive exercising. It means learning to understand your self better and replace old ways of functioning with new and more effective ways of getting what you want and need. In fact, you won’t be able to give up disordered behaviors until you find healthier ways of thinking and taking care of yourself, such as:
- Never let yourself get so hungry that you are tempted to binge. The best way to avoid a binge is to eat something every three to four hours.
- Protein and a healthy fat must be a part of each meal and snack. When you feel uncomfortable, take a few minutes to discover what is causing the discomfort. Allow yourself to think about what you discover. Plan what you need to do to soothe yourself.
- Until you make some progress, avoid situations that trigger unhealthy behavior. When you feel stronger, plan new ways to deal with triggers that won’t limit or isolate you.
- Find a satisfying way to feel self-reliant and proud of your contribution to your family, friends, associates and community.
- Spend time every day with friends or family in person or on the phone.
- Everyday do something of quality about which you can be proud.
- Realize that everything you do is a choice. Replace “I should” and “I must” with “I want to” and “I choose to.”
- Schedule an activity every day for fun, for something you want to do and can look forward to doing. Fun is a great way to release tension and frustration. It’s also an antidote for depression.
- Talk things over with a trusted resource person—a parent, friend, pastor, school counselor, physician or mental health counselor.
For Your Austin Counseling Convenience
For more information, please call (512) 306-9992, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All inquiries are held in strict confidence. Please understand that no counseling will be provided via the Internet or e-mail. Working with you in person is the best way to help you achieve your goals.
Daytime and selected early-evening sessions are available, Tuesday through Thursday 10:00am to 6:30pm. You may choose from three types of sessions: individual, couples, and family. Please feel free to ask about other possibilities to fit your lifestyle and needs.
Ann McIntosh, MA, LCSW, Counseling and Psychotherapy
4407 Bee Cave Road
Building 5, Suite 513
Austin, Texas 78746
Video produced by Michael Quick of QuickOne Media Ann McIntosh is also listed on the following Web site directories: Psychology Today | YellowPages.com | Eating Disorder Referral and Information Service