Peace River Psychology Center
Helpful Articles by Rebecca Bright, PsyD.
By Rebeca Bright, PsyD.
Very few people are happy with their bodies. It seems there’s always someone younger with more perfect features reminding us we have no control over what we have been handed by life. At some point, most of us recognize that having the perfect body won’t make us happy, but we continue to beat ourselves up trying to at least lose the weight.
Feeling bad about eating Oreos won’t help, but changing your relationship with your body can lead to a more positive outlook, better enjoyment of life and ultimately, better health. Your relationship with your body is self-acceptance in physical form. Being able to accept ourselves as we are — not comparing ourselves with others, not having to meet a cultural ideal and instead being grateful for being alive and having the physical capacities we have is a freedom few dare to reach for. But the joy and pleasure of that freedom is limitless.
There is joy in taking care of ourselves, in being able to accept the good and bad about our bodies and our lives, the physical wounds we show and the wounds no one can see but that manifest in many different ways. Looking in the mirror and being grateful for our own particular version of physical perfection can be the most important part of working toward change. Our relationship with our bodies can change over time, from being viewed as an uncontrollable enemy to becoming a source of pleasure and personal accomplishment. It begins with taking small steps that start to take hold and gradually become habits.
For example: Slowly introduce healthier foods in the diet and eliminate those that are not so healthy. Find ways to fit exercise into your lifestyle. With exercise, it is important that you be willing to experiment and perhaps to accept a less than stellar performance sometimes. Everyone is unique, and we all have different preferences in sports and activities we enjoy. As self-acceptance increases and more enjoyable physical activities are included in your daily routine, you will start feeling good about your body. You will feel good getting into clothes.
You’ll like feeling the strength of your muscles. You’ll feel more confident and enjoy sex more. You will enjoy delicious, healthy meals that are light and include enough nutrients and fiber to work with the natural rhythm of your body. You will grow to have a different type of relationship with your body, one in which you listen to signals of satiety instead of stuffing yourself to the point of discomfort. Your body will afford much more fun and excitement that it did when you ate all you could eat at the all-you-can-eat buffet. The ups and downs, bumps and lumps will make more sense and be an okay part of the bigger picture, a life where you do the best you can do with what you have been given.
before weight-loss surgery.
By Rebeca Bright, PsyD.
Choosing to have surgery as a method to lose weight is a difficult decision, normally surgery will not be considered unless many years of failed weight loss programs have been attempted, affecting self-concept and relationships with others.
Pre-surgical psychological assessment is an important part of the process of determining if the risk of surgery is worth the health benefits gained. Psychological issues related to the surgery and about future adjustment to changes after the surgery can be discovered and a plan to change can be developed considering emotional, cognitive and behavioral factors. The pre-surgical assessment includes objective personality testing, which compares the patient’s personality characteristics with other general population adults, and can identify possible personality issues that can be addressed during the evaluation process.
The pre-surgical assessment can be eye-opening as issues related to coping mechanisms, diet and exercise are explored. The patient's experiences with restricting calories or types of food, and their successes and failures with changes of their diet are detailed. Feelings about food and making changes that involve food are explored and the patient can mentally prepare for the changes they will be expected to make after the surgery is completed. The patient and the doctor will be better prepared for issues that may develop and start finding resources or options that can make adjustment easier.
During the pre-surgical interview and through questionnaires, the motivations for having the surgery and expectations of what the surgery will achieve can be discovered. The patient's expectations need to be realistic as unmet expectations can be disappointing and a sense of failure will lead to giving up and regret for having the surgery. Patients who understand that the surgery will be a support for their efforts in changing their diet and modifying eating behavior will be better prepared for the changes they will have to take responsibility for.
With the pre-surgical assessment, the patient can be educated about psychological issues associated with the surgery that may not have been considered. The patient may have been coping with depressive symptoms and attributing disappointment and stress to being overweight, but that may not always be the case. Being in therapy or taking psychotropic meds does not mean a patient is not a good candidate for bariatric surgery, but how diagnosed mental illness may affect post-surgical adjustment will be an issue to prepare for as the surgery is planned. The patient can start adapting to the team approach to surgery that will include the surgeon, nutritionist, and other representatives of disciplines that will demonstrate a holistic approach to change that the surgery will entail.
By Rebeca Bright, PsyD.
The joy and bliss that many experience during this time of year is not always the reality for those who are dealing with grief, loss and family difficulties. We want the holidays to meet our expectations of happy gatherings that have always included the same family members and traditions, but this is not always possible. Situations out of our control can change relationships and routines. Instead of having happy moments sharing dinners and gifts with those we have always been with, we could be in a strange place surrounded by strangers.
The holidays might not meet our emotional needs and instead might highlight negative emotions that leave us feeling not good enough. Although these feelings are very powerful, they can be changed to give you the relief and joy you experienced when things were more normal. Understanding that what you’re going through is temporary can be a huge relief. With a little time and help, it is possible to experience the joy and love that is around you. A different perspective can help you realize that the feelings making your life seem lacking might not be based in fact. With time, you will be able to see the opportunities around you to give and to experience love again. The holidays can be a time when you evaluate your life and current relationships in a deeper way, which can be beneficial.
If you notice you are seeing things negatively, it may be an indication that you could use a change in perspective. It can be difficult to accept change, but it is possible. We can all learn to accept difficulties as a part of life, accept problems as a part of relationships and accept that we all make mistakes and deserve forgiveness. This is part of the beauty the holiday season can offer.