I had already been a therapist for a few years when my sister, Eve, decided to open a gym. Her vision was super specific: everyone was welcome to sign up, but she wanted to pay special attention to people with weight problems.
I did not need to ask Eve why. Growing up, she loved fast food, and junk foods too much became obese. Many kids in our neighborhood ended up teasing her because of it by copying a pig’s snort until my sister would cry.
Of course, I felt awful as I witnessed the bullying that Eve endured. Instead of coaxing her to get revenge, though, I encouraged her to go hiking with me on the weekends. Since my sister was massively out of shape, she used to get winded after 15 minutes. However, she genuinely wanted to lose weight, so she stuck with the hikes and never complained. Soon enough, she dropped from size 16 to size 12, which was incredible.
Going back to the original topic, I was only meant to be my sister’s personal cheerleader. Her gym had been gaining many potential clients, and I could not be happier for Eve. But then, she came to my clinic one day and asked if I could give counseling and therapy to her clients.
“I worry that my efforts will end up futile if my clients do not have a proper mindset when it comes to weight loss,” my sister said.
I agreed to meet three or four people after my work hours, but it did not mean that I treated their cases differently from my clients. In truth, I noticed a few things that had been holding them back from losing weight.
The primary thing you need to let go of is insecurity. I have come across many people who claim to have tried almost every single workout tutorial on YouTube. But when you look at them or ask if they have met their weight goals yet, you will notice no significant change in their physique.
When I ask such people why they have not gone to the gym instead, the standard answer is that they fear getting laughed at because of their bodies. Although I cannot say that there are 100% friendly folks in gyms, everyone has the same goal: to be fit. Going to the gym at your heaviest may even earn you some high praises for wanting to improve yourself.
People with weight issues tend to compare themselves with others all the time, whether they are aware of it or not. They can look at someone and think, “I wish I am as skinny as her!” or “Why can’t I look as good as that?”
I often discourage my clients from making comparisons because it is a way of feeding their negative self-thoughts. It may not sound like it, but looking at others and wondering or wishing why you can’t have their amazing bodies means you are comparing yourself with others. Always doing that can get you stuck in the depression lane and prevent you from appreciating yourself or making progress.
It upsets me to say this, but most – if not all – the individuals with weight-loss issues I talked to believed that they were far from gorgeous. They hide in baggy, unflattering clothes and try their best to keep others from seeing their flaws. And since they don’t think they deserve to be picky in life, they often get conned by the people around them.
There is nothing else to blame for such a mindset but media and the standard of beauty they portrayed for decades. If they celebrated big-bodied men and women in the past, plus-size people would not have felt inadequate. Getting over this issue takes months for some people, especially since the idea that ugly equates to fat has been sadly ingrained in their brains.
The difficulty of achieving weight-loss goals increases significantly when you are dealing with too much stress. For instance, you may be drowning in projects at work, you cannot get over a bad breakup, or you have been having a family dispute.
How do similar problems affect your weight, you may ask? If you have a hectic work schedule, it’s easy to jump out of your diet and feel like you deserve a cheat day or five. The same thing happens when you are fresh out of a relationship, and overeating seems to be the best way to desensitize yourself from your emotions. And if too many problems are occurring at once, you may even forget to exercise, thus halting your progress.
Peeling off those negative things like the layers of onion was not a cakewalk for everyone. Some would want to stop in the middle of the session because the topic was getting closer to home, but I would remind them that it was necessary to form better habits.
Fast forward to 2021; I am happy to say that I have helped almost 100 clients through my sister’s weight loss program.