01/02/2013 11:18 am ET Updated Feb 28, 2013

Come Out of Fat Denial, America!

It's time for those New Year's resolutions again. The number one resolution people make is -- you guessed it -- to lose weight. Yet based on what we know about us (Americans), we are actually gaining weight. Right now 69 percent of us are overweight. Within that 69 percent, 35 percent of us are obese. This is not good. Obesity is a major risk factor for: Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and some cancers. It is a real threat to our health and our ability to enjoy life.

In my book, Foodaholic, The Seven Stages to Permanent Weight Loss, I have identified the seven stages we must go through in order to lose weight and keep it off for good. It's not a diet book. It is a guide book through the psychological tasks we must complete in order to be successful long term. The weight loss stage is only one of the seven. There is much more involved in losing weight, and keeping it off, than just eating less and moving more.

I know this because I used to be 50 pounds heavier than I am now. That was 22 years ago. I have maintained that weight loss all these years. I am also a psychotherapist and both in my private practice, and at the obesity clinic at UCLA (where I am on staff), I have helped hundreds of people lose weight and keep it off.

A recent study out of the University of Washington has confirmed what I know and experienced firsthand. That is that we are in "fat denial." This was a very large study of almost 400,000 people and when asked about their weight a year ago, people inflated the number. That made it seem like they were losing weight when in fact they were not. This was especially true for men.

When I was at my top weight I employed many fat denial techniques. I would wear stretchy clothes, hide behind others for a group photo, avoid clothes shopping, swimming, crossing my legs (because I couldn't), getting on the scale, etc.

So, the first stage of the weight-loss process is coming out of fat denial. This is the entire first chapter of my book. It was what I had to do before I took action to change my weight.

The lead author of the University of Washington study, Catherine Wetmore, said:

The message we're trying to drive home is that if Americans don't accept the reality of their weight changes over time, they're not going to be motivated to lose weight. It's important to be attuned to even small changes in body weight because over time they can really add up.

Here is a helpful video to assist you in coming out of fat denial. It's not easy to face the reality of where you are but it is necessary in order to get to where you want to go.

The three things you can do, right now, to help yourself break through the denial is:

  1. Get on the scale. Write down your weight. That can be your starting weight.
  2. Have photos taken of your full body while wearing something clingy. Front, side and back views so you get the full picture. These are your "before" pictures.
  3. Cross your arms and feel where they fall on your belly. Cross your legs, if you can, and get a sensory experience of what your body feels like right now.

It is my mission to help you lose weight, feel better, look better and live a healthy and happy long life. You can't do those things if you are overweight and in denial about it. Your weight is ultimately something you can control. I'd like to help you do just that.

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

For more by Irene Rubaum-Keller, click here.

For more on weight loss, click here.