Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Dr Kiera Buchanan

Re­sist the pres­sures of the di­et­ing in­dus­try & re­solve to treat your­self well

When making your new years’ res­o­lu­tions, I urge you to re­sist the pres­sures of the di­et­ing in­dus­try and in­stead re­solve to treat your­self well. If you are seek­ing greater health, hap­pi­ness or self-worth, I as­sure you that be­ing at war with your body is not the way to achieve those goals. Al­low me to share a lit­tle of my story. When I was 20 years old, I tagged along with my Mother to a very pop­u­lar weight­loss clinic. At this point in my life, I didn’t re­alise that there was any­thing ‘wrong’ with my body weight. Rather, I had sim­ply agreed to at­tend as an op­por­tu­nity to spend qual­ity time with my mother, to sup­port her and gain more mo­ti­va­tion to get fit­ter and health­ier. At the time I weighed in at 65 kilo­grams and was in­formed by the con­sul­tant that 60 kilo­grams would be an ideal weight for me. Rather than ques­tion­ing how this woman could cal­cu­late my ideal body weight by merely look­ing at me, for the first time I was struck with the thought that, ‘I must be over­weight. Why else would this con­sul­tant en­cour­age me to lose weight?’

Re­sist the pres­sures of the di­et­ing in­dus­try & in­stead re­solve to treat your­self well.

And so, the quest be­gan to get my weight be­low 60 kilo­grams…and I got there. How­ever, the ef­fort re­quired to main­tain this weight was not sus­tain­able and be­fore long my weight had crept back to 65 kilo­grams. Rather than trust­ing that my body knew bet­ter than the woman at this weight­loss clinic, I blamed my­self; a story which I’m sure many women are fa­mil­iar with. So, the pat­tern of weight fluc­tu­a­tions, some in­ten­tional, some in­ci­den­tal had be­gun. A num­ber of life events in­clud­ing a bout of al­ti­tude sick­ness whilst hik­ing through the peaks of South Amer­ica and also the heart­break of sep­a­rat­ing from a longterm part­ner saw my weight plum­met back down to 60 kilo­grams. How­ever, on both oc­ca­sions de­spite my con­vic­tion to not re­gain the lost weight, it wasn’t long be­fore my weight had crept back up to 65 kilo­grams. Years later, I am pleased to say that scales are not a part of my life. In fact, I haven’t weighed my­self in years. How­ever, whilst writ­ing this ar­ti­cle my curiosity was sparked which prompted me to step on the scales once more. And you wouldn’t be­lieve it: the scales showed that once again, I weigh 65 kilo­grams. How­ever, this time is dif­fer­ent be­cause my per­spec­tive is very dif­fer­ent. My body tells me that all those years ago the con­sul­tant at the weight-loss clinic was wrong; 60 kilo­grams is not a good weight for me and 65 kilo­grams is not the re­sult of

be­ing lazy. 65-ish is my nat­u­ral body weight. This is my ideal weight when I am health fo­cused, not weight ob­sessed. How­ever, for me 60 kilo­grams is the short-term ef­fect of di­et­ing, ill­ness, and/or mis­ery, none of which I wish to sus­tain to sim­ply have a slim­mer physique. Your body has an in­tu­itive wis­dom far greater than any di­et­ing gim­mick. Learn to lis­ten to it, ac­cept it and trust in your body to do its job well. When you are no longer fo­cused on con­trol­ling your body­weight, you’re free to deal with the real rea­son why you may be strug­gling with your weight. Re­solv­ing that is­sue could be a much bet­ter and worth­while res­o­lu­tion for the New Year rather than aim­ing for a cer­tain body im­age and num­ber on the scales.

Dr Kiera Buchanan is a Health and Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­o­gist as well as the Di­rec­tor of Cen­tre for In­te­gra­tive Health; a multi-dis­ci­plinary prac­tice aimed at pre­vent­ing and treat­ing eat­ing dis­or­ders, weight con­cerns and body-im­age is­sues. Kiera spe­cialises in top­ics such as di­et­ing, eat­ing be­hav­iour, weight man­age­ment and self-com­pas­sion. She has pub­lished pa­pers, de­liv­ered work­shops and also pre­sented at con­fer­ences. Kiera can be con­tacted via web­site.

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