In my work with Diabetes Ireland, I see and hear from many people with either a diagnosis of pre- diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. The advice that is given is usually a combination of medication, healthy eating and exercise.
For most people this is a very challenging ask. Frequently, as a response to diagnosis, people will seek out the information and put it into practice with varying amounts of success, they will often experience difficulty in maintaining that change long term and end up feeling disillusioned and demotivated. I hear things like:
- I’m just not motivated
- I’m too weak willed/no self-control
- It just does not work for me, change is too hard
- The pandemic is causing me to eat
- I’m stressed/too busy
- I’m too old to lose weight or to change behaviour
It is about changing our habits and behaviours
Many weight management programmes and books give very general advice, this does not always address individual habits and behaviours. These are hard to change and need gentle, non-judgemental professional guidance and support so that it’s not just about willpower alone. Very often, we lack awareness of how, “in the moment”, we are so comfortable with our behaviours and how we can approach, manage and free ourselves from the immediate feeling of satisfaction that they provide.
The key to successful weight management is not about simply getting the advice and having a onetime checklist, it’s a personal, ongoing and continuous cycle of learning and understanding that permanently strengthens our own capabilities.
The approach I use builds awareness of how you can change your own mindset to achieve your health goals and to achieve a healthy weight in a long-term sustainable way. You will do this by changing your thinking so that you never again “go on a diet”. This approach will identify how and where you sabotage your efforts. You will learn how to deal with cravings, emotional eating and how to motivate yourself. Most of all, rather than giving out to yourself, you will learn to adopt a compassionate view of your efforts.
On a more personal level, consider how you can be the “best you”. Pause and ask yourself if overeating and drinking alcohol is good for you. When do you feel at your best? The quality of the food we eat has a much bigger impact on our physical and mental health that we realise. Look at your alcohol intake, many of us will initially experience a feeling of relaxation when we drink alcohol but then experience a low, depressed mood afterwards. This is an example of momentary pleasure that ultimately makes us feel worse and leads to low esteem around behaviour change.
Many people make resolutions around changing habits, around healthy eating, weight management and perhaps taking up exercise. For many, this is regular event often with disappointing results. People report making very big efforts to lose weight and to subsequently gaining it all again. The approach that I offer, helps people understand habits and behaviours around weight management. How often, I hear my clients coming and saying, “I could write the book around how to lose weight” but I don’t know where I am going wrong because “ I just pile it back on” and more with it.
The answer to this is to go through a process of discovery and awareness of the “whys” of our habits, it takes about 6 one to one sessions. It’s a very individual journey and clients learn about how to increase motivation, how to deal with emotional eating, cravings and triggers.
This process will empower you to make informed choices and to have better control around your eating and drinking decisions. It acknowledges the natural ups and downs that happen as we change behaviour, in a non-judgemental environment. This is not a shame-based exercise and is not a teacher/student like relationship. This journey is highly respectful of the participants own lived experience and uses this expertise alongside proven techniques to achieve lasting change.
Think ahead to our post pandemic world, regardless of what you do or don’t do, the days will pass, we WILL move to better times. For now, pause and consider how you can use this period of lockdown to benefit your health. Close your eyes and picture how you want to look and feel. The possibilities and implications of what you do now will determine how you are as we emerge from these very difficult times.
Taking the first step
Pauline Lynch is a pre-accredited Psychotherapist/Counsellor with the Irish Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors (IACP) and has completed training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for weight management.
She is available for one to one support for people with Diabetes and the general public either in the counselling room in Cork Care Centre or nationally on Zoom.
For more information, contact 021 4274229 or email [email protected]