THE BLOG

The Psychology of Weight Loss

07/07/2010 04:44 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

I am seeing a strong trend lately in the literature, and the comments to blogs, that disturbs me. I hear angry people who have trouble losing weight getting mad at those of us who are experts in the field because we are saying things they don't want to hear. This disturbs me. As my boss, the head of the obesity clinic at UCLA, and author of several books on the subject says, "Everyone who eats is an expert." He is used to this. I, even with my 20 plus years in the field, am not.

I once went to a weight loss doctor when I was heavy and couldn't seem to lose weight. I thought I was only eating 1,200 calories a day and exercising a lot. Despite that, I weighed 175 lbs. He said, "No one came out of the concentration camps fat." I like to call him Dr. Harsh. Even though he had a point, it was a nasty way of putting it.

It turned out that I was actually consuming closer to 2,000 calories a day. There was a company then making muffins with the label that said each muffin was 140 calories. I had also found a "diet" dessert company that labeled all the calories and they were really low. In truth, the muffins were about 800 calories a piece and the diet dessert labeled 110 calories was really 450 calories. Both of these companies have since gone out of business, and laws have been enacted to guard against this type of misinformation. I was so mad.

Anyway, after uncovering the reason why my weight was not moving, I made the tough transition to healthy, whole, unprocessed foods. Yuck! At first I felt deprived and so missed my muffins and desserts. Life didn't feel worth living until the weight started melting off. Then the rewards of the weight loss started to outweigh my sadness over the loss of my favorite foods. Food had been my friend, my party and my nightly activity for years. I missed it until I started to not only look better, but feel better.

So now, 20 years later, and 50 lbs. lighter, I would not go back for anything. The studies show that obese people eat more than thin people, bottom line. Many people often underestimate both the portion sizes and the calories in the foods they eat. Trust me, I know first hand about that one. We kid ourselves, find companies that will help us with the denial, and then go about blaming genes, carbs, doctors, experts, studies, etc...

It's your body and you can lose weight and be healthy. If you think you can't, don't give up. Make sure there is nothing physically wrong with you first. Then, uncover the reason for your problem and attack it. You can do it!

If you'd like to participate in the research for Irene's new book on the process of weight loss, and you have already lost weight, please take the survey.