Huffpost Healthy Living
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Irene Rubaum-Keller Headshot

Scared to Be Thin?

Posted: Updated:

Do you find that no matter what you do, you can't let yourself lose weight and keep it off? Well, there is a reason you are trying to lose weight. I'm not psychic but I bet I know what it is. Because you gained weight? At some point, even if this happened very young, you gained weight. You took in more calories than you burned and stored them as fat. There is/was a reason why you gained weight. There is a reason, or many reasons, why you took in more calories than you were burning. For real long term weight loss and even more importantly, weight maintenance, to be successful, the reasons for the weight in the first place, need to be addressed.

I gained weight for many reasons. I went from waitress to psychotherapist. One job was extremely active, the other was not. I also found that I used food for lots of reasons that had nothing to do with hunger and fueling my body. When I was single, food was my party. I'd look for "fun" things to eat. Bored? Eat. Lonely? Eat. Angry? Eat. Happy? Eat. Hungry? Hmm.... Oh yeah, eat.

Even 20 plus years ago when I was trying to control my weight I understood about calories. I tried to count them and thank heavens the labeling laws have changed and the information on the food we are consuming is much more accurate now. Back then I found these fabulous muffins, called No Muffins. The label said: no sugar, no salt, no etc... It also said the muffin was 140 calories. I would eat two a day. It turned out these muffins were closer to 700 calories a piece. I couldn't understand why, when I was only taking in 1,200 calories a day, and exercising, I was gaining weight. That company has since gone out of business.

Some of us put on weight because we didn't want to look too good and be sexually attractive. If we have bad associations with being attractive, and/or with being sexual, then this can be very scary. If when we thought we looked good we were taken advantage of, rejected, used, etc... we can decide it was because of how we looked and not because of how we behaved or because of circumstances beyond our control. The idea that the weight is a protection from being hit on is dangerous because it is partly true. When you are obese, you are less sexually attractive. This makes biological sense because you are also less healthy. We have an inborn drive to perpetuate the species by choosing the healthiest, cutest, mate. There really are less chances of having to deal with advances when you are heavy. The perceived notion then, is that there is less chance of being hurt. Now, if you didn't have to be heavy 24/7 and could just put it on when you were afraid of being hit on, this could work. The fact that you have to walk around heavy, even when you're home alone, just in case someone out there finds you attractive is overkill. Don't you think? What we tell little children who want to hit their buddies because they are angry at them is, "Use Your Words." I use this phrase all the time with my overweight clients who use weight as protection. They are using their bodies for fear they won't be able to say "No" when they need to. For people using weight as protection, the issues are best addressed with a qualified, competent therapist who specializes in this area. You can have all the information in the world about how to lose weight but what you also need is courage and the tools to deal with the changes that come as a result.

My fear, as I began to lose weight, was that I would get hit on all the time. That I would have to be saying "No" constantly and it would be like Marilyn Monroe walking down the street with a trail of suitors vying for her attention. I purposely wore baggy clothes and no make-up while I was losing to keep the men at bay. Slowly, at my lower weight, I got the courage to wear clothes that fit. Let me just say that the men suitors, while there was more attention with 65 lbs. gone, were not following me around, asking me out constantly. I live in Los Angeles. The most beautiful people in the world come here to try and make it in Hollywood. Occasionally someone would come up and say something, but I was more than able to handle it.

An important point to keep in mind is that the people closest to you, do not want you to change. Even if you are 400 lbs. and in physical danger, the people closest to you want you to stay the same old (insert your name here) that you have always been. No, this isn't because they want you to be miserable, or because of some shortcoming of their's. It is actually normal. Any family system, friend system, work system, have ways of operating. We get used to our loved ones, friends and co-workers. We expect them to be the way they have always been. When someone changes, then we all have to change. If Megan was a 250 lbs. 33 year old single, attorney and she loses 100 lbs. and starts dating and looking amazing, we have to change to accommodate Megan. Let's say we are friends with Megan and we used to have girls night out. She was the one that would be left sitting after everyone else hooked up. Now, you are still there sitting and Megan is out there dancing. Yuck. If you are her coworker and Megan used to work non-stop and now that she is dating, Megan works less and you have to work more. Yuck. If you are her sister and she was always the heavy one and you the pretty one and now Megan is also pretty and not only that but because of the big change in her, she is getting a lot of attention. Yuck. So, you can see that Megan might get some less than positive comments from these people that feel more comfortable with 250 lbs. Megan. We hope that when we embark on self improvement that those around us will support us and applaud. When they don't, or even go so far as to sabotage us, then we get thrown off if we don't understand it and don't know how to work with it.

Don't know if you're scared or not? You'll know if when your weight starts to go down, your anxiety starts to go up. You'll know if you get to a certain weight and start letting things slide. "Oh, I have lost ten pounds; I deserve a high calorie day (or two, or three)."

You'll know if when people start commenting on how good you look, it throws you into a panic. If you expect and can work with these feelings, you will be better able to lose weight and keep it off.

That's it for now. Good luck and let me know how you're doing.

From Our Partners