Looking Within

Self-actualization techniques to help reach your weight-loss goals

BY: Gary Null

From "Ultimate Lifetime Diet" by Gary Null, copyright 2000 by Gary Null. Used by permission of Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. For online information about other Random House, Inc., books and authors, see the internet website at http://www.randomhouse.com.

Many people sense that part of the reason they are overweight is that they don't have the power to run their lives the way they want to. They feel stressed out at their jobs, where information comes in faster than ever and our responses must be equally quick. The number of hours we work is on the rise, and many employees worry about job security. But even after we leave the office, our problems may continue at home. Many of us feel lonely and stay stuck in unrewarding friendships and relationships for fear of being isolated. If we're married and have children, we may live in households where no one communicates or shares feelings with one another....

Our lives also are filled with short-term crises--an exam at school, a heated argument, or getting stuck in traffic on the way to an important meeting. These minor stresses have no lasting effect on our bodies and immune systems, notes Dr. Joan Borysenko, one of the pioneering scientists of psychoneuroimmunology, the study of how emotions act as a link between the body, mind, and immune system. Rather what does us in is the chronic stress we feel from a negative outlook that can develop as a result of these minor irritations and setbacks. ...

Some of us handle stress better than others, a concept known as stress hardiness by researchers in this field. Superior adaptation to stress depends on three factors: challenge, control, and commitment. Instead of letting ourselves become unhinged by troublesome events, we need to view each difficult situation as a challenge, take control, and commit ourselves to resolving it. ...

Self-Actualization Techniques

...[T]here are a variety of ways of smoothing out the bumpy aspects of life so you'll have an easier time reaching your weight-loss goals. ...

Unclutter Your Life

When patients wishing to lose weight talk to therapist Dr. Peter Reznik, one of his first questions is "How's your closet?" Trained in mind/body medicine, Reznik works on the premise that a disorder on one level is always reflected on other levels. He also asserts, and I agree, that you can successfully start a process of change on any of these levels and it will have direct repercussions on the others. People who want to let go of excess weight but can't often are unable to let go in every aspect of their life. As a result, their closets and homes are clogged with old clothes, papers, books, furniture, and dust-collecting trinkets. An initial step to change, then, is to start cleaning your house or apartment, getting rid of everything that you no longer have use for. You'll find that this can contribute greatly to an enhanced sense of well-being.

The emotional makeup of an overweight individual often reflects this pattern as well, with the person hanging on to memories, perhaps painful ones, that no longer serve a purpose. The regrets and resentments we hold on to from the past keep us from living fully in the present. ...

To begin the healing process, Reznik has his patients clean out their inner closets by remembering past stressors and releasing them. Unlike more traditional models of therapy, where people talk about a hurtful situation and then store it in their mind so that it continues to rule their life, Reznik's approach teaches patients how to resolve the painful memory differently. For example, if a patient has suffered abuse, he would ask him or her to return to the experience, feel the pain, and then transform it by creating a better ending. ... While it's true the actual experience will never change, the way that memory is now processed


changed, and that's what's important for healthy functioning. ...

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