Psychological Self-Help

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a survey that showed that 24% of women and 17% of men would
sacrifice three years of their life to be their desired weight. It becomes
an unhealthy cycle: body loathing causes emotional distress which
increases the disgust with the body. Psychology Today's suggestions
for accepting and feeling better about your body are: Stop looking
at fashion magazines or ads anywhere. Realize your self-concept must
be much broader than looks; weight isn't what makes you a good or
bad person. Appreciate all the uses, abilities, and uniqueness of your
body just as it is. Do things that make you feel good about your body-
-exercise, dress well, have good sex, etc. Change or get out of
negative relationships. Develop positive self-talk about your looks to
replace the criticism. Learn people skills, especially empathy, "I"
statements, and assertiveness (ch. 13), so you are more caring and
likeable (counterbalancing the prejudices people have against over-
weight people). 
Clearly one of the questions facing every overweight person is this:
Is the problem my habitual overeating or some underlying emotions
that drive me to eat? The answer is not easy. Being over-eating may
upset us and emotions may cause over-eating. For example, over-
weight 9 and 10-year-olds do not suffer low-esteem but by 13 or 14
they do! On the other hand, people dieting, who have a history of
depression, are at risk of becoming depressed again (the same is true
of people stopping smoking). So, the answer is "well, for some people
it is just family customs or habits of loving beer and pizza" and for
other people the answer is worry about body image, depression,
marital stress, conflicts at work, workaholism, or hundreds of other
possibilities. You may need to figure it out in your case. 
Capaldi (1996) tries to help us understand how eating patterns are
based on life experiences and how to change those patterns.
Thompson (1996) explains more about the connections between body
image and eating. A good book to help you start exploring the
emotional possibilities underlying eating is Abramson (1998). To
consider the more psychoanalytic reasons for overeating, such as an
unconscious desire to be fat or a fear of being thin and sexy, read
Levine (1997). There is probably no way to determine with any
certainty the role of emotions in driving your food/drink intake except
by (a) keeping a diary of the events in your life, your emotional
reactions and your food intake, (b) openmindedly reading therapy
cases and asking yourself "Could this be true of me?" or (c) getting
Keep in mind that although a lot of research is being done and
much is thought to be known, we are still pretty ignorant about all
three--weight, emotions, and changing our bodies. Many studies are
small, say with 20 subjects or so, and result in conflicting "findings,"
other studies are suspect because they were supported by companies
selling a product or people pushing a diet, and some pronouncements
just aren't true. For instance, a recent study (Anderson, 1999)
reported that very over-weight dieters who went on a very low calorie
diet (500-800 calories per day) and lost weight quickly had kept more
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