Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Turning the Negative Into Positive: Ways Through Weight Loss

Another book I've enjoyed reading lately crossed my path because of my work counseling bariatric (weight loss) surgery clients at the Khalili Center in Beverly Hills. As I've gotten to know the field a bit better, I'm in awe at the profound changes that weight loss surgery creates and the inner transformation sometimes required to allow it to be as successful as it can.

Michelle Ritchie knows the experience firsthand and wrote a self-help book titled It Ain't Over Til The Thin Lady Sings: How to Make Your Weight Loss Surgery a Lasting Success. I highly recommend it for anyone considering the surgery or going through it, but have also found it to be a beautiful journey through struggles with body image and emotional eating, useful for anyone with those issues.

I've come to understand weight loss surgery in a whole new way over the months of training. It's not a cosmetic, quick fix and it's primarily covered by insurance only when weight has begun to create serious health issues like diabetes, sleep apnea, heart issues and joint pain. In that sense, weight loss surgery is an important help to people who have struggled with weight their whole lives. Some studies already show that having gastric bypass surgery can actually reverse diabetes!

That being said, the journey through is not an easy one. Afterward, patients are restricted to smaller meals throughout the day and are at risk for side effects like nausea and vomiting if they overeat or eat foods that aren't recommended. Often through the course of having the surgery, patients find that they have to, once and for all, give up food as a comfort and face deep feelings that may never have been examined before.

In her book, Michelle includes a beautiful section on 'Learning to Honor My Body' and shows how old negative thoughts can be transformed into new, positive affirmations as a way of moving forward into a better relationship with your body. Here are some great examples to consider, whether you're a candidate for weight loss surgery or simply struggling with finding a healthy body image or freedom from food. 

Old thought: My body is just a prop to carry my head around. It isn't really me.
New affirmation: My body is an important part of who I am, every day of my life. My body and I can work together in a loving relationship.

Old thought: I have to battle against my body (or against my food cravings) to lose weight. Sometimes I feel like my body is my enemy.
New affirmation: My body is speaking to me all the time, trying its best to work with me, not against me. I will listen to its voice.

Old thought: If I really let myself go, I'd lose control completely, eat everything in sight, and become a big fat balloon.
New affirmation: If I really let myself go, I'd release all the feelings that get pushed down by food, and then I'd be free to move on.

Old thought: I don't like my body, and neither does anyone else, so I'll just ignore it, stuff it, or punish it with starving/bingeing.
New affirmation: I can't hate my body and love myself at the same time. I choose to love my body as it is now.

I hope these can inspire you too. There are so many reasons to choose a loving relationship with our bodies as a more effective vehicle for inhabiting our lives. Try writing some of the new affirmations out for yourself and see what comes up for you. Is it possible to step into a new way of seeing the relationship you have with your body?

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