Since age 4 I can recall numerous incidents of not being good enough and either having to walk away from the situation alone, or in the case of my father, being berated and then ignored. I have Bipolar I and had my first episodes at 17 and was not correctly diagnosed or treated until age 44 after several hospitalization. I have gained weight over the years about 100 lbs since college and now have Type II insulin dependent diabetes. Health issues aside, I feel as though my weight is some type of protection for me from the feelings I still have as an adult, but I really don’t know how to attack this issue with my therapist. CBT has not been a very effective form of therapy for me and the feelings I have are keeping me from enjoying the accomplishments I have made. Any suggestions ?

A. You have tried CBT but you might want to explore other approaches including hypnosis. Many people have found hypnosis to be a helpful approach to weight loss when used in conjunction with diet and exercise. If you choose hypnosis, it is important to work with a qualified and trained hypnotherapist who has a proven track record of success.

You seem to be searching for a psychological explanation for your weight gain. This can be useful but as a standalone approach to weight loss, it has its limits. A more comprehensive and efficient approach is to add exercise and to examine your diet. Sometimes, instead of waiting for the motivation to lose weight, or waiting until you fully understand the psychological reasons for why you gained the weight, it helps to simply start. In addition, even if you were to uncover the psychological explanation that led to the weight gain, it might do little to assist you in reaching your ultimate goal, which is to lose weight.

Not only can exercise assist with weight control but it can positively affect your mood. Be certain to check with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen. You should also meet with a nutritionist to examine your diet.

One common mistake that is made when attempting to lose weight is setting unrealistic goals. The main problem with unrealistic goals is that they can make an individual feel overwhelmed and want to give up.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example. An individual sets the laudable goal of losing 50 pounds. They arbitrarily decide that six months should be enough time to achieve their goal. To achieve this, they plan to limit their caloric intake to 1000 calories per day. They also plan to exercise for one hour, seven days a week. Normally, this individual consumes approximately 2000 calories per day and exercises two days a week, for 30 minutes.

Mathematically, their plan is very sound but it requires a major lifestyle change. The reality is that for most people it would be a very difficult plan to carry out. It requires too much of a change. The success rate would likely be very low. The individual in this hypothetical example, essentially created a plan for failure.

A more realistic approach to weight loss would be to plan small, daily changes. For instance, if an individual were to cut 200 calories from their diet per day, in a year they could lose approximately 20 pounds. For most people, this approach has much greater potential for success than the hypothetical plan described above.

You might want to also consider some of the popular diet plans. Many people have had success with these programs. In fact, Consumer Reports recently reviewed popular diet programs and rated Jenny Craig as the best. According to a recent study, 92% of individuals who utilized Jenny Craig were able to stick with the program for two years.

Psychologically, it is advantageous to explore what may have caused your weight gain but don’t stop there. Consider expanding your approach and to include some of my suggestions above. I hope this helps. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Jun 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Internalization of Not Being Good Enough Leads to Overweight. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/06/15/internalization-of-not-being-good-enough-leads-to-overweight/