Weight Gain and Weight Loss – the Psychological Ramifications

By: Michael Bens

With roughly the same amount of food being available to all of us in our society, why do some people end up with weight problems while others don’t? And moreover, why are some of us able to lose weight and change our lifestyle relatively easily, while others hold onto their excess weight? There are about three different answers to those questions. The first is physical – some of us have a faster metabolism than others. We just burn calories faster, so any weight that we do gain is quickly lost. The second answer is behavioral – this refers to the habits we have picked up over the years. If we have bad eating habits, they can be changed, but until they are, we are likely stuck with any weight that we do gain.

The third variable is psychological, and it may even be the most powerful determinant for who will be able to lose weight and who won’t. Many of us have a psychological basis for our weight gain or weight loss. Until the psychological issues are dealt with, weight loss may well prove impossible. Once the person deals with these issues, however, weight loss may occur quickly and easily, even if you aren’t trying to lose weight.

In a sense, it is natural that food and weight might be linked to psychological issues, because food is also linked to childhood and our relationship with our mothers. This is the earliest and most potent psychological reality. Think about what your mother taught you about food. Did she show love by giving you food? Or did she withhold food, out of a concern about weight gain (many mothers in the 1950s and 60s did this, as thinness was considered important). Chances are, the way in which your mother dealt with food has a bearing on how you deal with it and what you feel about it. If your mother used food to show love, you might have a problem dieting or restricting food, because restricting how much you eat makes you feel unloved. On the other hand, if your mother controlled your food intake and you felt the need to rebel against her rules, you might still be rebelling by eating too much – even as an adult!

It can be more complicated than that, though. How do you feel when you think about losing weight? Some of us love the idea before it starts to happen, but when it does, we get scared and start to sabotage are own weight loss plans. The fact is that you may have a vested interest in holding on to your excess weight. It may be doing something for you, in a sense – for example, it may be hiding the ‘real you’ from the world, and protecting you. For women in particular, carrying excess weight means that they will be less attractive to men, and this can be a way of avoiding relationships. People who have experienced abuse in the past may use this as a way of hiding. On the other hand, people might also want to hold on to weight (on a subconscious level, of course) because the world seems like a dangerous place, and they are afraid of getting swept away. Having excess weight on your body makes you bigger, literally; you may feel better equipped ot deal with the dangers of the world if you are heavier.

Most of these fears and desires take place on a subconscious level only. What you are consciously experiencing is a lot different – you might think that your are really trying to lose weight, but not succeeding. You might even conclude that you ‘can’t’ lose weight, for whatever reason. In many cases, just recognizing that you have a psychological basis of your weight gain may be enough for you to let go of it. You can make the shift, and the weight will suddenly start to come off easily, even spontaneously.

On the other hand, you may not be able to get past these issues on your own, especially if they have to do with the past – with a history of abuse, for example. You may need to seek counseling in that case, and though this can be challenging work, the end result is always worth it – not just weight loss, but regaining a positive sense of self.

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Authored by Michael Bens. For more great information on weight loss, diets, nutrition, and living a great healthy life style visit Gabae Weight Loss

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