Can you relate to Willow? She’s in her late 20s, very personable, smart, creative – just a truly nice person, and she has struggled with her weight since high school.
People always tell her she has “such a pretty face” and if she just lost weight, she’d be fighting off the guys. Her grandmother said, “If you lost weight, men would be lined up around the block.”
(gee, thanks, grandma – or, not so much)
And by the way, what a message. That somehow your weight and appearance is the ONLY thing that a guy is interested in? So Willow’s only value is her body and that’s the only thing that would attract a man? Very shallow view of men.
But I digress. Back to Willow.
The truth is, some guys prefer curvy, voluptuous, plus-size women. There was no reason why Willow couldn’t find someone who liked her just as she was. But she didn’t.
Willow grew up watching her mother submit to her stepfather on everything. Her mother was powerless to make basic household decisions and had to justify all purchases to her husband. Willow developed the idea that marriage and relationships meant a power struggle. One person had the power, and the other had no power.
It's not about willpower. It's about power.
As long as Willow remained heavy, her weight protected her from the kind of male attention that might lead to dating.
In her mind, dating would lead to be in a relationship and she was afraid that if she became someone’s girlfriend or wife, she’d lose herself in the relationship, lose all her power.
As Willow processed this fear in therapy, she began to date for the first time in her life. When her size no longer served the purpose of protecting her from relationships, she was able to lose a little weight and keep it off (and by the way, by then she was dating a guy who really didn’t care if she lost weight/ gained weight – he just wanted to be with her).
What's your conflict?
If you find yourself conflicted about weight loss, if part of you wants to lose weight and part of you doesn’t, it’s for a reason that probably has to do with fears about people or relationships.
In the absence of meaningful connections with other people, food becomes a substitute. Unlike people, food is consistent, available, and reliable. Unlike people, food won’t let you down, disappoint, or hurt you.
Here’s some Food For Thought:
- What are your associations to intimacy and closeness?
- What makes you afraid of romantic or sexual attention?
- What are your hopes and fears about being perceived as attractive to others?
When you focus on “why” you’re eating, not “what” you’re eating, you’ll have the opportunity to resolve the actual problem and not turn to food as a distraction. And that’s how you win the diet war.
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