Q I know this is a common problem but that doesn’t help me. I’ve put on quite a few stones in weight since having my first child five years ago. I now have three small children who keep me very busy. I don’t get around to eating proper meals apart from quick snacks throughout the day – although I do like some chocolate at night time. It’s as my treat for getting through the day!
I feel ashamed of my body now and I hate the way I look. My boyfriend says he doesn’t mind but I think he’s just being kind. He fancied me as a size 12 so how can he fancy me now I’m nearly double that?! I want my old body back again. I can cope with the stretch mark scars but not these rolls of fat. I get so tired all the time and know my weight doesn’t help. I don’t have the time or money for gym membership or personal trainers. What do you suggest?
A Yes it is a common problem – but not a universal one. My main feeling is empathy for your struggle. It’s hard enough being a mum without having this on your mind too.
Remember – without feeling any guilt – that you’re modelling to your children your own self-care, self-esteem, pride and confidence in yourself – yes, even though they are still small. They pick up how you feel more than what you do or say.
The scales will tell you one thing but they can’t offer you a solution – so for a while only weigh yourself on the first day of the month… first thing in the morning… naked… and before breakfast… and ideally after you’ve ’emptied your bowels’ (every bit less helps!)
This isn’t just about how much you weigh either. It’s more about your deeper feelings, how you see yourself (self-concept), and how you see, and relate to your body (body-image).
As you seem repulsed by your own body I’m wondering if there are any other psychological and emotional issues coming up for you too. Perhaps around mothers being attractive and sexy; or maybe about feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable and needing to hide away under a layer of fat.
Just an idea – I’m not suggesting that this is the case or cause for you. It’s as well to consider if this old psychological stuff is in the mix though – and if so, to sort it out before it keeps you stuck any longer.
I’d also suggest that you get your thyroid functioning checked out either by your GP or a naturopath,
If you see a naturopath or kinesiologist they’ll also check for toxicity in your body that might be causing you to hold onto your weight to protect your organs.
Whilst looking at the physical causes of your obesity you should also consider whether you have a Stress Belly or a Sugar Belly. Without going into the details of these, it’s important to keep your refined sugar intake as well as your stress levels as low as you possibly can. They both cause hormonal change which result in more abdominal fat.
Have small but regular meals – and fill up on proteins which take longer to digest and make you feel full for longer.
Imagine feeding an extra child at the dining table – and she’s the little girl inside you. Feed her only real foods – the sort your grandparents would have eaten, probably from their own garden vegetable plot – and no microwaveable junk food!
Keep on the move – and use the weight of one of your children to push you a bit harder when climbing the stairs (and always make sure you’re safe first though!)
Keep your focus upon being lighter, fitter and healthier. Little steps each day will get you to your goal. No rush, no panic, just stay committed to getting back ‘in shape’ (whatever that means to you).
We know that just vividly imagining losing weight has a profound effect upon our weight loss… so give it a go! Vividly imagine working out at the gym or running for a mile… all from the comfort of your armchair!
It all has to be vividly imagined though – no short cuts… feel your heart beating and your body sweating… feel the weight start to leave your body as you feel lighter and more agile.
Do this three times a day for a few weeks and your brain and body will respond as if it were real!
You can also make the most of your chores…by having funky music playing whilst you do your housework…and breaking out into dance like you used to years ago! Go for it like a dance-loving teenager for at least half an hour a day.
As for the late-night chocolate… well obviously that would be better avoided, but there’s no fun in deprivation. So instead, have half a chocolate bar and eat it very slowly. You’ll still get the chemical rush that chocolate gives you as well as feeling the soothing comfort of your daily reward.
In time you may even want to cut it down to a quarter of a bar…and less.
I’m not a personal fan of gyms – we can exercise at home using the stairs and weights we can make from stuff around the house. It’s the motivation we need most though.
That’s why some of the weight-loss clubs do well. There’s company and accountability. Again I’m not in favour of drinks instead of food (as the brain registers our chewing and swallowing with nourishing ourselves).
I’d also suggest that you are clear not to identify as being fat…don’t say ‘I’m fat’..say ‘I’m carrying excess weight at the moment’. Big difference.
It’s said that we become the sum of the five people we spend the most time with – and whilst I’m not sure I agree with that completely (family members spring to mind!) it is worth considering the company you keep.
If your friends are also obese and talk about it when you’re together then that is ‘fat talk’ and you’ve got ‘fat chance’ of shifting your focus onto the slimmer you with all that negative fat chat around you.
I’m sure your boyfriend will notice your firmer body, increased energy and confidence too – and you’ll be able to tell that he’s noticed 😉
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)