I Begin Weight-loss Counseling, or Discovering Answers I Know I Have - Mercy Medical Center

I Begin Weight-loss Counseling, or Discovering Answers I Know I Have

Posted on: October 17, 2013

I weighed in this week and lost just two pounds. I am just disgusted with myself. I should be losing more than this and know I could be doing better. I didn’t have any emotional eating episodes this week, so I was disappointed with only a two-pound loss.

As I started to get depressed about it, I was overcome with a fear that maybe I can’t do this. Maybe I was just going to sputter at a pound here and a pound there. I tried to perform some analysis on my week and came to the conclusion that this really is a game of inches.

Shifting Focus to How Far I’ve Come with Weight Loss

As I mentioned, I didn’t have an emotional eating episode this week. But as I analyzed my week carefully, I realized there were lots of little “cheats.” You know the kind I’m talking about. My daughter, who is renowned for leaving food on her plate (her two favorite foods are bacon and gravy, but she still sometimes loses weight between pediatrician appointments), would leave one chicken nugget behind. Of course, as I was clearing the table, I would grab a bite and tell myself, “It’s just one bite. Just a little taste. No worries.”

At the end of a week, though, I think all those little bites add up. One bite of chicken nugget, one spoonful of mashed potatoes, one handful of Good n’ Plenty, one fork full of pork chop. I think I just experienced the classic “death by a thousand paper cuts.” Then my self loathing kicked way into gear – not about being fat, mind you, but hating myself for being WEAK.

As I left my OPTIFAST meeting and stewed in my own self-hatred, I tried to review what I learned in my visit this week. I should focus on how far I’ve come, not how far I have to go. I need to motivate myself to achieve more, not dwell on when I struggled. So, the game of inches, it turns out, is one I am winning too!

Witness my inches! When I started OPTIFAST, I had to wear my belt around the second to biggest notch. Some weeks I would actually have to let it out to the biggest! I realized that this week, I am comfortably walking around and doing chores with my belt on the SMALLEST notch! I don’t know how many inches that is, but it seems like a lot. I may have felt like a failure at two pounds, but my clothes are getting noticeably looser. When I checked the time, I realized I had another noticeable difference.

Look closely and you can see the tan line where my watch USED to sit. It is basically one whole watch width. In addition, my watch used to fit tightly. It pressed down into my skin enough that when I took it off you could see the engraved Omega logo in my skin. Now, my watch hangs loosely at my wrist! So much so that I am considering taking a link out to tighten it up!

Renewed with a bit of inspiration, I was determined to do better this week. No bites, no samples, no slipping. I will stick resolutely to my OPTIFAST plan and display at next week’s weigh-in exactly what total commitment looks like!

Past Experience with Counseling Leads Me to Try Again

Speaking of total commitment, I mentioned to you a few weeks ago that I was upping my game and starting to see a counselor and a personal trainer. I had my first meeting with the counselor last week and I could tell immediately that I had made the correct decision.

For those of you unfamiliar with “talk therapy” or modern psychological counseling (or for those of you who’ve tried it and didn’t like it), I would like to share some of my experiences and successes with it.

In the beginning, I was skeptical. I am an educated man, generally stubborn and generally self healing. I didn’t buy into the idea that telling someone about my problems would help me at all. The idea makes no sense when you think about it at face value.

I had some problems early in my marriage, and truthfully I wasn’t very good dealing with them. I was younger and definitely more immature. I went into counseling expecting the worst. The funny thing is that even though I was closed off and “just going through the motions,” before I knew it I was actually looking forward to going.

In talking about my problems, fears and concerns, I began to work out what the correct course of action was for me. I could see situations where I could have made better decisions or perhaps been more sensitive to others feelings.

I told myself that this just validated my early expectations. I mean, I was the one who came up with the answers, not the counselor. So, if I have the answers, why did I need to see him? As a result, I did grow a little and become better at coping with things and interacting with people. But there was still room for more.

A number of years passed, and I was back in the same boat. There was a tremendous amount stress between my marriage, my family, my business and my children. I decided to go to counseling again, but this time chose a different counselor and arrived ready to meet with a different attitude.

I was completely open and honest about every facet of my life. Let me tell you first hand, it is a very freeing experience. You have an audience that won’t judge you, and you don’t have to worry at all about hurting anyone’s feelings or offending anyone.

Counselors Provide a Safe, Experimental ‘You’ Lab

I guess the way to think about it is that we do, in fact, have all the answers. We just often don’t know it yet. We place ourselves into a state of denial, or refuse to ponder options and outcomes because they are messy. But when you see a counselor, you are essentially getting a “free-play” area. All ideas are okay, all thoughts are okay to voice, and all opinions can be shared. (Note: I use the term “counselor” generically, but that could mean a licensed therapist, a psychologist or a psychiatrist.)

Counselors give you have a safe space to work things out, to try things on, and to see what makes sense and what doesn’t  – without distraction. More importantly, you get this experimental “you” lab to conduct experiments with a trained professional. They don’t “teach” you, necessarily; they essentially guide you through a syllabus of your own making. Counselors may not tell you what experiments to do, but they will keep you from creating a concoction that will blow up.

I emerged from counseling the last time more in control, more at peace and more dedicated then ever before in my life. I really see it as a major turning point in stepping up my game and becoming a better father and husband. I gained a deeper understanding of myself and have been able to leverage that into better friendships, a better marriage, better relationships with customers, etc.

This reminds me that the ancient Greeks knew more than just how to build an awesome temple. They took the time to make sure the message carved into the front of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi was “γνῶθι σεαυτόν.” Don’t speak Greek? How about the Latin version, “nosce te ipsum”? Oh alright, in English: “Know Thyself.”

Help for the Emotional Side of Weight Loss

So, all that was great experience, and now that I am struggling again, I decided to find a new counselor. I did some research and found a practice locally that includes a faith-based element, which is important to me. I checked their credentials and found a counselor I thought would be right for me based on website bios.

My first session with the new counselor reminded of my first session years ago. Forty-five minutes went incredibly fast, and I was unable to stop talking through the entire session. Don’t be alarmed, though, if you take my advice and decide to try counseling for yourself. The first couple of sessions is always basically a lot of you getting things off your chest, explaining your life, your background, and your reasons for wanting counseling. I would say if you are really going to give it an honest try, plan on going to at least six sessions, and then see how you feel and if you want to continue.

If after six sessions you really aren’t feeling comfortable, try to ascertain if you aren’t connecting with the counselor. You can always try another one (and another one) until you find the one that really clicks with you.

So, anyway, I went, emptied my issues onto the table and am looking forward to the next session. More than likely, your insurance will cover counseling; mine did. It costs me $40 a session, and while that may seem like a lot, at this point I would rather give up taking the family out to the movies that week if it means I will have help coping with stress. Making me a healthier, less stressed dad and husband makes me a BETTER dad and husband.

A Simple Story of Victory This Week

Speaking of being an awesome dad and husband, one quick story of victory this week. My wife loves big cats, as in lions, leopards and so on. My daughter is only slightly less of a fan than my wife. I discovered that there is a huge non-profit rescue organization here in Ohio only about 40 minutes from my house!

I took the family there last weekend. You can get very close (but very safe) views of a huge variety of big cats. They also have a host of other exotic animals there like monkeys, wolves, bears, donkeys – all of which were mistreated or abused and would have been put down had not this rescue organization stepped in and offered to take them.

The only down side to this is the place sits on a huge piece of land. It is all gravel or dirt walking paths between the huge animal enclosures. Lots of walking on uneven ground was going to be on the menu. Did I worry? Nope! I am walking like a champ now thanks to the weight loss and OPTIFAST.

Image credit

Sometimes writing can be a big part of making significant life changes. That’s what our guest blogger Eric Buwala has discovered as he’s been blogging his way through Mercy Weight Management‘s OPTIFAST program. Read his entire archive of posts here.

Live in the Stark County, Ohio area (Canton, Massillon and North Canton)? Need some help losing weight to improve your health. Contact Mercy for more information. We’re here to help.

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