Dealing with overweight. Part 11: Mysterious emotions

I see a certain pattern over and over as people ask me for help losing weight and we begin working towards this goal.  I don’t completely understand it and much about it is mysterious, indeed.  It is not the most frequent situation I see, by any means, but it is common enough to tell you about.  It may be important to you if you have tried the strategies I have described in my earlier articles without success.

Typically, these folks are very frustrated by repeated failures following programs or techniques which they know have used successfully by others.  Some have made dozens of attempts.  Whenever they begin to make progress something always goes wrong.  Sometimes the problem that undercuts their efforts seems to be out of their control.  Other times it almost looks like they are sabotaging their own plans.  The hallmark of this pattern is that weight loss efforts are frequently abandoned in the middle of success.  I am not the first to observe this phenomenon, of course; some have even named it a “self sabotage syndrome.”  Emotional triggers seem to be the culprit here.

This is what is mysterious: if someone’s behavior is driven by some sort of emotional factor, why are they not aware of it?  Sometimes these patterns are called “unconscious,” but to me this is just a name for something someone is not aware of that is clearly affecting their behavior.  Giving it a name doesn’t help much.  What is clear to me is that if these kinds of factors are driving the excess weight problem, they must be cleared up before success is achievable.  One example may be someone who has a deep fear of the sexual advances that they had experienced in the past when they felt they were more attractive to others.  Another possible example is someone who has a very low self-esteem and their overweight status provokes criticism from others that is in line with their self image.  I have rarely been able to adequately pursue my suspicions to completely confirm them, but I strongly suspect they exist, at least some individuals.

Sometimes the emotional factors are obvious to the person struggling with them, but the mystery here is how to get them free of the consequences.  One fairly common situation is eating out of boredom.  They may be watching a lot of TV, not getting much exercise and steadily snacking.  Another similar situation is someone who is lonely and finds some comfort for their loneliness in food.

Getting to an accurate assessment of whether such factors are present may take very courageous self examination.  If you strongly suspect your weight loss efforts are being undermined by emotional factors, finding a good counselor or therapist may be helpful.  There is another option that may be useful, also.  I wrote an earlier article in which I discussed EFT, a form of what has been called “energy psychology.”  The most popular EFT website: , contains many reports about the successful use of this therapy to help people control their weight as well as access to research reports about its use.  Just click on the “weight loss” or “eating disorders” topics when you get to the site.  The articles and the other resources on the site are well done.

My next article will cover my experience with weight loss medications.  This is one of my “last resort” strategies.  I have quite a bit of experience that I can share, having learned to use medications for weight loss fairly effectively.

After eleven articles, you would think I had just about covered it all.  Note quite, but there are only a few more important topics to cover.






About Chuck Gebhardt

I am a physician specializing in internal medicine. I sub-specialize in nutritional medicine. I am very interested in all areas of healing research, not necessarily limited to traditional medicine topics.
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