Looking Within

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

Continued from page 1

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. ...

Get in Touch with Your Demons

Eating for emotional reasons happens more when we are unsure about what's bothering us. Once we get a clear picture of what's really going on, the urge to take solace in food is likely to diminish and eventually disappear. Clinical psychologist Dr. Edward Abramson therefore encourages his patients to pay close attention to events that precipitate eating episodes. "I frequently ask people, 'What were you thinking about before you started eating?' Not just 'Where did I leave the peanut butter?' but 'What was I thinking about before I asked where I left the peanut butter?'" This method helps people identify what was going on in their head at the time and enables them to connect a particular feeling to the urge to eat. It may be an upcoming job interview or other work-related situations that cause anxiety, for example, or the memory of someone who is absent that precipitates loneliness.

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Gary Null
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