I am starting a new series here on my blog that is based on my musings of the Optifast Literature that they give you during your fast and maintenance.  From time to time, I will “discuss” these materials when I find something interesting that I would like to share.

Body Image — You can’t avoid the pressure from society about your body image.  Many of us hide from society completely (No way I am putting on a bathing suit and going to that party!). Others try to not be seen (Don’t sit in that chair!). My favorite is: I don’t care what people think! — (Well, you should, you really should!).

So let’s see what Opti has for us…

Tools for Success: Recognize signs, Understanding factors that influence your image, Understand the hidden benefits of obesity, & recognize feelings that signal weight gain.

Yikes.  So much to discuss… So little time… There is much more to this little lesson but I think we have enough here to discuss.

Recognize Signs – It goes without saying that overweight people know they are overweight. Optifast talks about how their research shows that obese people try to hide the signs or signals in their day-to-day life. The example they give is mirrors.  Overweight people tend to have less mirrors in their houses and around them.  Full Length mirrors are virtually non-existent if you are obese.  I must say that I never cared about mirrors and I did not have many of them around.  We once purchased a house and the first thing we did is remove the full length mirror on the back of the bedroom door.  At the time, we did this because it was a cheap mirror that we just did not need, but in retrospect maybe there is something to the Optifast thought here.  We certainly did not run right out and get a new and nicer one to replace it. Optifast discusses how there are plenty of face and hair size mirrors but in obese households you will not find any that show your overall appearance. Photos play into this as well.  I know I avoided all photos including those “family” photos.  Movement.  Overweight people tend to stay home and exercise less.  Many of the reasons for this are pain (my knees, my ankles and my back used to hurt when I exercised) and going out in public (Isn’t it fun to walk pass all those stores in the Mall and know there is nothing in there that you can fit into?). Finally — touch. Overweight people avoid touching at all costs.  I had to laugh at this, but when you dig into it — it makes sense.  One of the people I know mentioned that they shy away from letting people touch them.  By this she explained that if someone put their arms around her and tried to give her a hug that it reminded her of how fat she was.

Hidden Benefits of Obesity – OK this is a stretch.  Here are the optifast examples:

  1. Not having to meet goals.  You don’t have to work hard because management would never give that marketing or sales position to a fat person.  Why bother working hard?
  2. Power.  Big Guys have lots of power in our society.  Sounds like intimidation to me… What was that?  Were you talking to me? Yeah, I did not think so!
  3. Credibility.  If you are overweight it signals that you work hard and don’t care about your personal life or family.  You will work weekends and nights and long hours because your body looks like you are willing to sacrifice for your career. So let me get this — you have credibility and then you have cover for not meeting your goals… What is not to like?  Pass the gravy please…
  4. Decreased Threat to your friends and peers.  People mistrust someone who is too attractive. Being overweight is just like saying — “Hey, I am just like you. I am no threat.”  So if you are thin, good-looking and nicely dressed — you might as well move on from this blog.  We have our eye on you…!
  5. Test of your Mate’s Commitment.  I must say that my wife loved me when I was 450 lbs.  and she loves me now.  When my feet hurt so bad I could not get out of the livingroom chair she never said a word.  I give Optifast this one.  She is a great woman and I love her for sticking with me!
  6. Reduced  Risk of Infidelity — A little hidden benefit to being fat?  A good anti-depressant can do the same thing.  I don’t buy it.
  7. Staying Below the Radar. Others expect less from the obese. You become invisible.  I must have I have seen many overweight people do this.  We do try to go about our lives trying not to stand out or be seen.
  8. Protection.  If you are 6′-5″ and 450 lbs. you really don’t have many people argue with you or start something. No one messed with my family.  Being a semi-pro football offensive lineman helps as well!

Recognizing Signals for a Weight Gain — Optifast discusses signs that could cause you to start regaining your weight. Resentment and Anger towards people who notice your weight loss or even notice you for the first time.  That anger is actually a way to allow you to regain your weight.  “I am the same person I was before.  Why do they talk to me now?”  All of this means, if I gain my weight back will they ignore me again? — It is an excuse. Anxiety about your new image.  If you have anxiety about putting yourself out there for the first time you need to recognize and examine this feeling. Ignoring it may be a way to go back to your old eating habits so that you do not have to be so out there. Pressure to meet expectations.  People sometimes feel great pressure to perform better at work and in their personal life.  Going back to the old you should be no choice. Here is the one that I have — right here in the Optifast Literature — “Inability to see you’ve lost weight”. Oh my Gosh!  How many times have I posted that??? It is a signal that you are at risk for a weight gain! So as you can see, I have some work to do on this image thing.  No way I want to go back there again!

I would add one other thing here — I am big on Diet Diaries — I think it is the single most important thing you can do to keep the weight off.  If you are keeping track of your diet, mood and exercise — you can look back and see what a successful week looks like and what a weight gain week looks like.  Your mood goes right to your self-image. If you keep track of how your feel day-to-day, you will see that a successful week is a week in which the balance between food, exercise and your mood has been achieved.  When any of the three get out of whack, I can guarantee you will see a weight gain.  I plan on using my Diet Diary to help with my self-image and get me to recognize my lost weight.  That and a full length mirror!



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