Saturday, 18 December 2010

Weight Loss Coaching

Around this time each year, i get inquiries from all sorts of people who want to make some progress on their health. Well... at least.... that's what they say they want! When, in fact, they just want their numbers on the weighing scales to be smaller and they wanna look like a cute, lil hottie when they boogie on down on the dancefloor. This is all absolutely fine by me!

But for real change - you need to dig a little deeper in the psychology of what got you porky in the first place. This weblog post describes how i approach weight loss coaching - by trying to bust through a couple of worldly myths. I know it's looooooong - but i've had a lot of success with it, so give it a shot (hell... baby... it's free - you don't even need to pay my hourly fee).

Put on a few pounds during the christmas period?

If you haven't - then shame on you! That's the whole point of a modern christmas. Epic nibble sessions!

This isn't going to be a weblog instruction advising you to eat 26 acai berries an hour, nor will i take you through the finer technical details of a 1980s Arnie Schwarzenegger bench press. As i always try and approach my blog postings, i will talk about weightloss from a more fundamental, grassroots angle.

Therefore, before you even start you post-Christmas regime - you need to detach/ decouple/ and separate these two concepts - and this is of paramount importance!

(1) Your weight
(2) Your self worth

In the media and within our very own social circles, we are conditioned to think that these two concepts are inextricably wielded together. But, this is not an accurate reflection of reality. If you were once a depressive, angry, shadow of person who never had a scrap of happiness in your whole damn life, losing 30 pounds is merely going to turn you into a slim depressive, angry, shadow of a person who still fails to capture even a smidgen of happiness.

Look at all the celebrities who have had drug problems, mental health issues and are going through crushing personal challenges at the moment. Lindsey Lohan, Mischa Barton, Britney Spears - aren't they all young, gorgeous, talented and SLIM... is this not enough to shake your belief that the dial on your weighing scales (does anyone have dial scales anymore?) is in direct inverse proportion to your worth as a human being? The lower your weight the more worth you have as a humanoid?!

I guess i'm very lucky, i had this belief not only shaken, but rugby tackled and kicked to death when i was just 15 years old. My mother has always been on a diet. Her whole life! When shopping at the supermarket she would spend hours analyzing the nutritional information and calorie content of each teeny morsel. She would also make statements like: 'when i loose a few pounds, i'll [insert activity X]'. I was constantly being bombarded by these negative messages... and my mother regularly tipped the 'obese' certification.

At the age of 15, i entered a competition and won a holiday! In fact, i didn't even come first, but the people who were further up the ladder than my entry were unable to go. Nonetheless, i won the holiday. There were around 20 other children who had won a variety of different competitions to get on the holiday and it was all being paid for by a well known drinks company. Needless to say, it was a very PR managed event with photographers and PR reps - we also got to meet some childrens TV presenters of the day. On the last day of the holiday the Head of PR and Communications for this mega PR agency was going to join us. I was interested to hear that this was a woman (conveniently busting another myth of my 15 year old self!) On the last day, she arrived in her chauffeur-driven nice, shiny, black, SUV-style car (I'm sorry i can't provide further detail autophiles). She got out the car.

Maaaan, she was the biggest women i had ever seen. She well over 6 foot and she was one hell of a biiig mama lady. What's more, she looked sublime, she was damn smoking hot! She was about 40, with pale skin and bright blue eyes. Her hair was in a perfect funky crop, her makeup was as if she'd spent the last 24 hours being dolled up by Yves Saint Laurent himself. Her trousers suit was a dark emerald blue - it was a huge contraption, with a tight designer stitch and whipped her figure back into some kind of inflated womanly shape. She had a rocked-up gold wedding band on her finger - which said to me she must have got married in the full swing of the eighties.

All the other PR people fussed around her like an over-sized, matriarchal queen bee. She was one cool cat, her poise, her confident voice and her exact gestures. She cut through the crap, she got right to the point. She had a zest for life and more personal energy than the 20-odd kids combined. I was wowed by this women, just setting eyes on her just burnt through everything i thought about being fat. Basically, i thought that if you tipped the scales... you would be held prisoner forever by your own lack of self esteem and you might as well just give up and kill yourself.

Whilst this lady was probably not the friend or colleague to consult for dietary advice or guidance on an exercise regime. I figured that she was the absolute don when it came to PR strategy. Everyone would try and get some time with her.

It was one of the first times i'd seen a mobile phone - and hers bleeped mercilessly. As she spoke on her telephone-brick she would flick rapidly through her filofax and say 'i'm sorry, i'll be in hong kong then' or 'i'll be in Milan for the whole of May, but let me send you one of my directors, but i'll oversee the project'. She had a PA scuttle around after her making notes, pulling out documents, getting everything just right.

Prior to this experience, i would have believed the whole thing entirely impossible. A big fat successful lady, absolutely top of her game and oozing confidence and sexiness. I've interpreted this event to mean that whenever i'm insecure or feeling down, i need to ratchet up my confidence in whatever way possible. Rather than reach for the Xenical!

So, what... we should all be fat? no! NO! Just split up 'self esteem/ self worth/ who you are from = the number of pounds you weigh'

Your weight is: the atomic mass of the combined the atoms that make up your body. This is then multiplied by the gravitational pull on earth which is: 9.80665ms-2

Sure we all know the health benefits of being slim athletic types, conversely we are perfectly aware of the health risks of big, flubbery types. Health disease, cancer, arthritis, infertility and depression. This is without even touching on the societal aspects and discrimination you may experience. But they're all sold to us as long term consequences, which in our world of both instant gratification and perpetual optimism we're absolutely certain we'll get our problem sorted before they can do any damage. It's totally implausible to think that we'll remain obese for another 20 years - right?

Well, this might put a sense of urgency into your plans:

A number of years ago, I was out to dinner with my work colleagues and their partners. One of the girls in the office was in her mid-twenties and morbidly obese. I forget how we got onto the subject, but she was moaning about her sky high health insurance premiums saying that her health was fine, she was 'just fat' and that there was nothing wrong with her except her fatness. My husband (who is a doctor) was also at this dinner. During her rant, the obese girl asked my husband's professional opinion of her predicament. Uh oh!

I'm not sure whether or not she was expecting my husband to go against the long established body of evidence from extensive medical research into obesity or thought he would sugar-coat his words for a friend and colleague of his wife (my husband is physically incapable of both). Or perhaps, back her up in some crude way by not pressing the point too fiercely.

So, he gave his point of view! His argument was that everyone knows about the heart disease and cancer risks, but what obese people didn't always understand was the huge risks they pose should they ever been caught up in an acute event. For example: if you are in a serious car crash - the bigger you are, the harder it will be for you to climb out of a window and there would be generally fewer options to release yourself, yet more of you to 'trap'. Passersby will have trouble pulling you out or carrying you to a safe place (and may actually injure you further in doing so). Layman rescuers frequently and unconsciously prioritize the less weighty passengers rather than the ones in most need.

Once an ambulance arrives - the paramedics will have a struggle to find a vein under the excess skin to administer life saving fluids/bloods/ medicines. Firefighters will struggle to cut you out of the car, your light-weight injured counterparts will already be at the hospital by the time you are cut out of the vehicle.

It is harder for a medical professional to determine any internal injury if you are fat. Furthermore, you'll be more likely to have a heart attack just from the course of the shocking event.

It doesn't stop there I'm afraid! At hospital, the staff will have to wait for a high-dependency bed for an obese person. Undergoing surgery is always a risk for an obese person - undergoing emergency surgery is an even bigger risk. The person has already been weakened by trauma, may have already lost some blood, they would need a huge dose of anesthetic to knock them out and they are more likely to have eaten recently (ie. have a full stomach) than their average-weight contemporaries - which will delay a life-saving intervention further. My husband concluded by saying: 'health disease and cancer can take many years to develop, but i wouldn't fancy your chances in a car crash.'

There was an awkward silence. But she had asked for his professional medical opinion.

I conclude this blog entry by saying: Being overweight is bad for you both in the long term and short term. But it has absolutely nothing to do with who you are as a person. The fat lady i encountered as a 15 year old knew this! Perhaps she even knew about the acute incident health risks that her weighty stature caused - maybe that's why she was all chauffeurs around in a huge SUV!