How you treat others is often a window into how you treat yourself.
Thus, it is no wonder our group of seven got to this point of weight gain and is now struggling to take it off. This is no longer novelty, and tempers are flaring as they make some real lifestyle changes. They treat each other horribly, and that is clearly a parallel process for how they treat themselves. Weight loss is not just about exercise and diet. It is about valuing yourself enough to treat yourself with respect. When you eat badly, avoid physical activity, drink too much, and put yourself down – you are disrespecting your body and your mind. Treat yourself with respect and it logically stands that you will treat others with respect.
Mandy, who may be the consistently kindest of the bunch, states that she was told by her grandmother, "If you are kind to people then your kids will be lucky." If that proverb is true, then I don't want to take any of their kids (with the exception of Mandy's) to Vegas.
The disdain and antipathy was oozing out of everyone – Shay's infuriating interaction with Joe at Mandy's dinner, Nikki's nasty ribbing of Stacy about an upcoming date, Nikki and Bryan's comments about Jeana. While you didn't hear my comments about it – Nikki's mean-spirited eye-rolling about Stacy's tears in therapy did not go unnoticed.
The exercise in therapy was an interesting one – Jackie had them bring in a childhood photograph of themselves so they could connect with the vulnerability of childhood. Not surprisingly, the pictures evoked childhood patterns about food and weight. Joe's love of cheeseburgers may be less about cheeseburgers and more about dad. A photo of little Stacy recalled the cruel criticisms of a grandmother. Nikki's self-loathing was revealed in her characterization of her childhood self as the "little fat girl." When we see our own childhood pictures, we see someone who may be "pre-pain," who hasn't yet experienced hurts we know will come, who hasn't developed harmful habits.
Jackie and I keep trying to move these clients into the present – to be present when they exercise and when they eat. All of us have the freedom of choice, but we can only exercise that freedom if we acknowledge our past. At some level, losing weight means letting go of the past. The best way to let go of the past is not to deny it, but to invite it in, and see that it does not rule us.
Time for you to weigh in: Will the escalating tension between Joe and Shay come to an explosive head? Will Nikki's willingness to delve into her past pain help to extinguish her self-destructive patterns such as showing up late and treating alcohol as a food group? At this point – who do you think is going to lose the most weight?
What about you? What life lessons would you want to impart to the " 6 year old you?" When you look back at childhood, what lessons about food did you learn that you wish you could undo?
And I couldn't let the rice pudding thing pass. Figures that a client in a weight loss therapy group likened the psychologist to food (by the way – he's not that far off – I smell like vanilla and cinnamon). Until next week...