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Body Image

When I was 0-22 years old, I never worried about my weight.  I was naturally thin and my parents were always telling me that I ate like a bird.  But then something happened when I graduated from college:  my clothes no longer fit.

At first I thought, no big deal.  I’ll just start exercising, since I never did.  But I continued to gain weight.  So then I thought, I’ll just exercise every day and watch what I eat.  Still gained weight, but more slowly.  Finally, I resorted to obsessing about being fat 24-7, exercising every day, and watching what I ate.  Again, very slow weight gain plus a lot of suffering.  Maybe my metabolism started slowing down at 23.

Ironically, all of that time that I was gaining weight, I was still pretty thin.  Until I reached 40.  Now I look like I thought I did all of those years that I obsessed about being fat.  I know I’m not fat, but I’ve gained enough weight that my dad told me that I needed to eat less and he mailed me some appetite suppressants.  And I would still like to lose weight, although I’m not as motived as I was when I was younger. 

I specialize in eating disorders so I never do fad diets, starve myself, throw up, or anything else that would make me a poor role model.  Plus I love food.  So here are the middle-aged strategies I’ve tried for weight loss, based on effectiveness:

Not Effective:

  • Buy a gym membership and never use it.  I know a lot of people do this, but I obsess about money and I used to go to the gym every day, so I really thought it might work for me.
  • Obsess all day about exercising and when you get home fall asleep on the couch instead. 
  • Try to eat the recommended 1500 calories for weight loss and then binge at the end of the day because you’re starving.
  • Stare at your gut in the mirror every time you go to the bathroom.
  • Eat fast food for dinner because you hate grocery shopping and cooking.

Effective:

  • Play tennis as many times a week as your body will allow. 
  • Use a pedometer and obsess about getting steps.
  • Don’t look in the mirror.
  • Don’t look at any pictures or videos of yourself and only take head shots.
  • Look at pictures of other people your age who have gained weight so that you realize that this is just a part of getting older.
  • Cut 500 calories out of your 3,000 calorie diet.
  • Go on the GERD diet where you have to cut out all of the things you love to eat and avoid eating 3 hours before bedtime and before exercising. 

I am happy to say that I’m slowly losing weight at the rate of about .25 pounds every 2 months.  No one is going to use me as a poster child for weight loss, but as I say to my clients, something is better than nothing.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

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