Attending To Your Psychological Layers When Managing Your Weight Long -Term
Lately I've been reflecting on the idea of accountability and self-responsibility when it comes to weight loss and weight management.
A common notion is that if someone is not losing weight, all they need to do is step up and take some responsibility. That is, it if they really wanted to achieve weight loss all they have to do is just "try harder" and replace the cake with a carrot.
That starts to sound like victim blaming to me.
Its as if these simplistic measures are all that's needed. If weight loss and keeping weight off was easy then, well, it would be easy……. And easy it is not.
During winter we sometimes encourage people to wear layers so that they can remove or add a layer depending how hot or cold they feel.
I was thinking the other day how helpful if would be if we were able to adjust our psychological layers according to how we are each day when trying to manage our weight.
Having worked in this field for many years what seems to be missing from the conversations around weight management is looking at the many layers of emotions, feelings, personalities, life stages, cultures, struggles, conflicts, childhood experiences, mental health among many other factors, and how these impact our weight. Attending to these layers may be of help and fill in some of the gaps that are ignored when discussing weight management.
This not only means getting in touch with what these layers upon layers of the messy and complicated factors that make us human are, but learning how to access them and adjust them accordingly can be really helpful.
An example of this is that if life is hurting you ie you are experiencing a significant loss, then adding a layer or a few layers of self-care, is really important. Taking the pressure off your self about having to make the perfect meal, recognising your appetite might be significantly affected, and eating accordingly is ok during sad times. Maybe you can't face certain textures or tastes, or you have no appetite or increased appetite. I suggest going with it and not fighting it just because you are trying to lose weight. Add a layer of self-care until you feel resilient enough to reengage with your weight loss behaviours. Similarly, removing a layer might look like saying no to certain obligations or engagements that normally you would say yes to. It might mean removing the expectations you may place on yourself that you must meal prep every Sunday for the week ahead. Perhaps you could give yourself a week or two off from meal prepping and allow time to reenergise and then reengage. This might mean eating frozen meals, having toasted sandwiches for dinner and being ok with take away meals.
Being human is to be messy, complicated and glorious all at once and trying to be formulaic about our behaviours and squeeze them in to a neat little equation of "energy in and energy out" will inevitably let us down if we don't fit into that neat little package day after day, week after week and month after month irrespective of life's circumstances. I highly recommend looking at what layers of self care you can add or remove to make you more comfortable when you are vulnerable.
"I am excited to announce that commencing late July my colleague Will Bonney and I will be facilitating two separate diabetes support groups with the intention of providing psycho/social support and education to people living with diabetes. We recognise the needs and experiences of people living with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are different, so a group will be dedicated to each. This will be a safe and caring place to share and discuss the way diabetes affects your life. It is a place to gain the support of others well-placed to understand your unique challenges and concerns when family and friends may not. Will has lived experience of living with type 1diabetes and has extensive experience providing psychosocial support in this space. (http://wbwellbeing.com.au/diabetes/). And I have extensive experience working with people with type 2 diabetes. Groups will be held in the Sydney CBD every other week of a Thursday evening. If you are interested in either of these groups, please don't hesitate to contact me for more information."
Groups can be the most supportive and caring environments to explore and share the ups and downs of weight management. When covid hit I moved my weight management support group online and it has been a very comfortable transition where there is a lovely supportive, caring and safe community for those that attend.
If any of the groups I have mentioned are of interest to you or someone you know please don't hesitate to contact me for more information.
I wish you all a snugly warm and safe winter and I always love to hear from you all to see how you are getting on.