How To Lose Weight With Love: An MD’s Thoughts On Owning Your Health
"Expressions of Self Love," artwork by Rita Loyd (c) 2005
Standing at the airport looking at magazine headlines, I found myself, once again, nauseated by all the headlines about weight loss. How To Lose 100 pounds Without Trying. The Biggest Loser Loses More. Jane Superstar Magically Gets Her Body Back After Baby. Oh No! Gorgeous Supermodel Has A Muffin Top! It’s enough to make a girl want to puke.
Yes, maintaining a healthy weight is part of OWNING your health. Yes, obesity is endemic in this country. So I get it. Lots of people would benefit from losing weight. But it guts me to see how much pressure people are under to get skinny. Frankly, I’ve never had a problem staying a normal weight. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for those who struggle. If you’re one of those people who has been fighting your weight your whole life, my heart goes out to you. I know it’s not easy.
But I believe it doesn’t have to be so hard. As a doctor, the responsibility to help people achieve a healthy weight often lands on my shoulders. But we doctors often don’t have the tools we need to effectively help others.
According to a survey of 290 primary-care physicians by Harris Interactive:
- 89% of doctors believe it’s their responsibility to help patients lose weight.
- 72% say no one in their office has been trained to deal with weight problems.
- 87% weigh patients at every office visit.
- 45% say they regularly discuss weight with their patients.
So why aren’t we helping people more?
A Holistic Approach to Battling Obesity
I believe that you will never achieve and maintain a healthy weight until you learn to love yourself, fat and all. If your weight loss is fueled by negative mind chatter and self-hatred, weight loss becomes punishment. You know what I’m talking about. The scenario goes something like this.
Something’s missing your life, so you go to the fridge and pull out a carton of ice cream. Maybe this will fill you up. You take one bite, but then you remember about Jenny Craig (or Weight Watchers or The Zone Diet or the South Beach Diet- or whatever). While the ice cream melts in your mouth, you start berating yourself. “You’re such a loser. You have no willpower. I can’t believe you just took that bite of ice cream. That’s your whole fat allocation for the day. You can’t do anything right. And if you can’t follow this diet, you’ll be fat and ugly for the rest of your life and nobody will ever love you. You suck. I hate you.” You feel so awful that you dig your spoon in and finish the whole crate of Ben and Jerry’s.
Jeez. No wonder you’re having trouble losing weight.
I believe you must start with loving acceptance for the divine, radiant being that you are. Every one of us was created as a perfect, whole being who is weightless. With you lies that beautiful, perfect spirit, regardless of what the world sees on the outside. You must reclaim, honor, and love that part of yourself to begin your journey to a healthy weight. As long as you punish yourself into trying to lose weight, it simply won’t work. Even if you lose 100 pounds because you’ve limited yourself to 500 measly fat-free, sugar free calories per day, you will likely discover that you are 100 pounds skinnier and you still hate yourself. And one day, when the evil voice in your heads says, “See. You’re skinny and you still suck,” you will pick that Ben and Jerry’s container back up and dig in. And in time, you will likely wind up fat again.
So how are you supposed to lose weight?
10 Tips For Reclaiming a Healthy Body With Love
- Practice radical self-love. Honor yourself. Nurture yourself. Take time to be in your body. Apply scented body lotions to your naked figure. Luxuriate in bubble baths. Walk around the house without clothes on.
- Make friends with the person in the mirror. Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “You are perfect and beautiful just the way you are.”
- Do a Body Blessing every day.
- Honor the perfect spirit within you with beautiful foods. Choose colorful raw veggies, succulent fruits, beautiful fresh foods. Shop on the outer aisles of the grocery store. The Goddess within you doesn’t need junk. She desires to be fed strawberries, slowly and luxuriously. She deserves healthy, nourishing, organic produce, lean, hormone-free meats, and whole grains like quinoa and brown rice.
- Make food an offering to your divine self. You wouldn’t feed the Divine Cheetos or Coca-Cola. You would pick fresh produce from your garden, create a beautiful salad, squeeze fresh juices, and luxuriate in the sensuous pleasure of color, crunch, and the bounty of the earth. Feed yourself with love.
- Add green juice to your diet. Consider starting with a green juice detox cleanse to flush your system of toxins and stabilize your blood sugar. Drinking 3-4 servings of green juice per day helps eliminate unhealthy cravings.
- Only eat when you’re hungry. Listen to your body. Eat slowly, with reverence. When you no longer feel truly hungry, stop eating.
- Be mindful about what you put in your mouth. Remember, your body is your temple. Your spirit is divine.
- Avoid emotional eating. If you feel something you don’t wish to feel, be brave enough to be with that feeling. Name the feeling. (“I feel pissed off at my boss.” “I feel sad that my father abused me when I was little.” “I feel bored and I hate my life.”) Honor your feelings. Give yourself permission to feel them. Instead of running to the kitchen, grab your journal. Write it down. You deserve to FEEL.
- Move your beautiful body. Even if you can only manage a slow 20-minute walk per day, do it. You deserve it. Use the time as a meditation. Repeat affirmations to yourself such as “I am whole. I am lovable. I am perfect just the way I am.”
I’ve seen this work time and time again with my patients. And when it does, it’s sustainable. Believe in yourself. Love yourself. Be whole. You know you already are.
Dr. Lissa Rankin is an OB/GYN physician, an author, a nationally-represented professional artist, and the founder of Owning Pink, an online community committed to building authentic community and empowering women to get- and keep- their "mojo". Owning Pink is all about owning all the facets of what makes you whole- your health, your sexuality, your spirituality, your creativity, your career, your relationships, the planet, and YOU. Dr. Rankin is currently redefining women’s health at the Owning Pink Center, her practice in Mill Valley, California. She is the author of the forthcoming What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (St. Martin's Press, September 2010).