Posted in Blog Posts, Featured

My struggle with body image – Part 6

Date: April 22nd 2019

I’m baaaaaack!
We left off in January with me starting my individualized program with Brandy.  As I explained in my earlier blogs, I was very resistant to doing anything that reminded me of my “old ways” of dieting.  I did not want to count calories, weigh food, deprive myself, label foods “good” or bad”, or weigh myself constantly.  I did not want to judge my day (or my character) based on how well I had “stuck to my diet.”  

Brandy took this all into consideration and was able to devise a nutrition program, despite my “limits.”  By the end of March, I had lost 19 pounds and I am maintaining that weight loss.

Learning about what my body needs for nutrition, the role macronutrients play, as well as timing of meals and snacks, has made this journey much easier than the deprivation diets of my past.

I can honestly say, I am able to practice my “program” at restaurants, parties, and people’s homes without any awkwardness or regret.

However, the last few months have not just been about losing weight.  I have become even more aware of my self-talk and how easy it can be to see weight loss as the end all of accomplishment.  Many times, I hear clients describe how happy they will be when they reach their weight loss goals.  I occasionally found myself determining my accomplishments/happiness based on the scale.

Maybe it’s my age (~65) or maybe it’s my long career as a therapist, but I’m convinced happiness comes from within and it is based on what we tell ourselves.

If we tell ourselves we won’t be happy until we lose X amount of weight, we will probably be right. What if we were more proactive in our happiness and consciously looked at all we do, not just our weight.  I recently heard an Oprah podcast that resonated with me and I would like to share it with you.  (See link below)

 Until then, be kind to yourself and let’s look at all our positives.

– Marlene Sexton

Posted in Blog Posts

My struggle with body image – Part 5

By Marlene Sexton LMFT

Date: January 30th, 2019

I left off last time telling you about my past decision to lose some weight. I restricted calories, avoided fat, skipped meals, deprived myself of tasty foods, and expected fast results. Never mind that the results were temporary AND unhealthy! Most, if not all, of my weight loss in those days was water and muscle.  

Refusing to go back to my old dieting ways, I now promise myself:

I will not count calories or points, 
I will not weigh myself several times a day, 
I will not deprive myself of certain foods, and 
I will not beat myself up for any “failures.”  

So, how am I going to drop some pounds?  

Well, I challenged any thoughts long ago that being overweight was a personality flaw. I dismiss any notion that heavy people are just undisciplined or “lazy”, and I know that any quick weight-loss program that promises long-term results is a lie. But, despite years of on and off dieting, I knew nothing at that time about obesity as a disease.

Fortunately, as a partner and behavioral therapist at Three Health, I have access to Medical Director Brandy Wiltermuth’s medical expertise. I already knew that my old way of dieting did not work to sustain weight loss, and most of what I thoughtI knew was old and faulty information at that!  

Brandy has the courage to take on the diet industry and tell the truth: The only way to lose weight and KEEP IT OFF is through individualized, medically-driven, holistic programs that treat the mind, the body, and the spirit. Everyone is different, and every patient requires an individualized program based on his or her personal medical conditions and profile. 

“Dieting” is not a one-size-fits-all program!  

Brandy’s experience in the science of weight loss is deep and insightful. She drew charts to help me understand how macronutrients work in mybody, making it easy for me to understand what works and what doesn’t work for mybody. There is a big difference between being told what I need to eat rather than what I can’t, and Brandy designed an easy-to-follow nutritional plan for me to follow. 

I was adamant that I love my social lifestyle and traveling, and she listened. In fact, I have no desire to curtail any activities; therefore, she has helped make it easy to go to restaurants and friends’ homes for dinner.

I was also adamant that my “dietary needs” not be obvious, and they aren’t. I have been following this plan (not to the letter and, yet, no guilt), and I have lost about eight (8) pounds in a month. 

While my “self-care” program worked for many years, time does not stand still. Just as my thinking had changed over the years, so had my body. Again, excess weight is not a personality flaw!  

As a partner at Three Health, and by following Brandy’s guidelines, I truly understand that everyone’s life situation is totally unique, which is why it is important to understand each patient’s lifestyle and situation. What I learned first-hand is that each person’s bio-metrics, medical test results, and medical condition play a huge part in healthy, sustainable weight loss.  

I don’t ever want to go back to the days where I put myself last or feel my needs are not important. As I have said before, I vowed I would never treat myself the way I did in my teens and twenties. I changed my self-talk, which changed my self-esteem, and now I practice self-care in all areas by including this new way of eating. 

I am taking care of myself by getting the right medical and professional advice for myweight issue because this nutritional program is unlike any “diet” I have ever been on. My health is one of my most valuable assets (as your health is to you), and I feel I am protecting it by losing weight in a healthy way, both physically and emotionally. You can do it too. 

Until next time, take care of yourself and yourbody’s needs,

Marlene Sexton LMFT

Posted in Blog Posts

My struggle with body image – Part 4

By Marlene Sexton LMFT

Date: January 23rd, 2019

In Part 3, I left off by mentioning a dilemma I have. I promise I will get to it, but first let me give you a bit more of my story.  

When my husband and I were blessed with two daughters, it hit me how important it was to model the behaviors I wanted our daughters to learn. This meant I would not make disparaging remarks about my body, and I would also no longer comment on other people’s bodies. I knew I could not change a society that tolerates weight bias, but I could have teachable moments with our girls to help them avoid the pitfalls of negative body image.

I also had to keep learning about and practicing a healthy relationship with food, which, as you know, is quite a challenge given the food culture we live in. There was a time when I saw food as my worst enemy; I know others who see it as their best friend, always there for them when they “need it.” Although I no longer see food as my enemy, I also can’t reconcile with some our cultural views about food. 

For example, all of us use food to describe things in our everyday conversations: “That test was a piece of cake,” or “She’s a smart cookie.” Food is even referred to as love(think Papa Murphy’s “Love at 425 degrees”). We often see food depicted as “medicine” by ads that encourage eating sweets after a stressful day, or magazines and TV shows that focus on food as entertainment. In fact, product placement on TV shows and subliminal advertising are intended to make us snack while watching our favorite programs and reinforcing our belief through character roles that we should be thin. 

We may be encouraged by our friends and family to lose weight, but then any effort is sabotaged when the host insists we eat the dessert they made “especially for us.” While I recognize that many families are going hungry, it is because of a lack of food, not choices. If you want to see a four-year-old have a meltdown (and who does?), look what happens when he or she is asked to pick out one candy bar or a box of cereal from the abundant choices in front of them! I read that we make about 250 food choices a day, but with social media, online ads, and programs like the Food Network™, we can’t count how many food “messages” we get daily. Again, living in our culture is a challenge when it comes to eating healthy.

Although I gave up “dieting” when my kids were little, I had yo-yoed for years because that’s how diets work, right? You might lose 10 pounds, keep it off for a while, gain back 12 pounds, and then diet again. That cycle can continue until you have lost literally hundreds of pounds and have spent years and years depriving yourself, beating yourself up for “blowing it,” and thinking about your weight all day! Before I made changes, I weighed myself two or three times a day to determine my“worth.” I know how dieting and weight can easily become your “life” and believe me, it is not a good life!

I spent years repairing my self-esteem and body image by changing my relationship with food.  I became conscious of why I was eating and began to understand I needed healthy foods in order to feel well. But, I also stopped thinking I had committed a felony if I ate a piece of cheesecake!

I then started self-monitoring to determine if I was hungry or maybe just bored or stressed. I developed skills to manage difficult emotions, and I became assertive and no longer worried if people would still like me if I disappointed them. I no longer allowed strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family to comment on my weight or body. 

I can’t put into words how freeing this revelation was to me, but it did not happen overnight. I had to work at it. Remember, being overweight, (or unhappy, stressed, and so on) is hard, and changing is hard. I chose my “hard” and worked toward self-acceptance and self-worth; I wouldn’t go back to my old ways for anything!  

But, finally, here is my dilemma:

I have been a therapist for almost 25 years, and you can imagine it requires a lot of sitting. A few years ago menopause hit; my metabolism and body shape changed. And although I absolutely love my job, I commute over two hours each way, which interferes with my well-established self-care plan of meal planning, healthy eating, fun exercise, and focused meditation for stress. 

Like you, I want to maintain good health and prevent diseases that come from being overweight. Once I started to feel good about my body, I gave up weighing myself and learned to create good feelings by my thoughts and actions, not by the scale. I decided to determine my weight by my energy and how my clothes feel, which was going well until I got curious and started using InBody, a device that measures body fat, lean muscle, etc., a much more accurate tool for determining healthy weight. Long story short, I found out I need to lose weight and build some muscle! I don’t need to lose much weight, but the idea of depriving myself, counting calories, weigh-ins, good food/bad food, and so on terrifies me. I refuse to go back to those days! But, and this is big, my health is very important to me.  

How do I lose weight without falling back into the “dieting cycle”? Stay tuned. Next time, I will tell you how I am working on this issue.

In the meantime, take care of YOU!


Posted in Blog Posts

My struggle with body image – Part 2

by Marlene Sexton LMFT

Date: January 11th, 2019

In my previous blog, I discussed the dynamics that lead to my “very diminished,” aka non-existent self-esteem and body image. Writing that blog was difficult because it meant going back to a time 45 years ago that was confusing and painful for me. You see, I have come a long way since then, and I worked hard to put it all behind me and make it just part of my story. However difficult it was, I am also proud of myself for creating a life I wantto lead, and I am here to tell you it can be done. 

Long ago, I saw a meme on Facebook that simply said, “Being overweight is hard, and losing weight is hard. Choose your hard.” I wish I had seen that decades earlier! I would have applied it to many of life’s difficulties, including those that were not weight related. 

Here is more of my story:

I was in my early twenties. I believed I was not good enough, and I should be grateful if anybody paid any attention to me. It did not matter to me how they conducted themselves, what their values or beliefs might be, or even what goals they had. If they liked me, I liked them and despite any red flags, I would fit them into my life. Looking back, I can see I had a high tolerance for poor behavior.  

What I know now but didn’t know then was “like attracts like.” To put it in more dynamic terms, we attract people who confirm our beliefs. In other words, if I don’t feel good about myself, I will attract people who (a) don’t feel good about themselves, thus giving us something in common or (b) they also don’t feel good about me; again, something in common! 

My self-loathing not only manifested in the company I kept, it prevented me from taking care of myself. Oh, I showered and dressed well (at least by 70s standards) but, frankly, that was so I would not offend others. I allowed “friends” to stand me up on commitments they had made, and it was “no problem” if they called for a favor (e.g., rides, bail, shoulder to cry on) at two o’clock in the morning. I skipped meals to help others, I ate junk food to appease, I put my own plans on hold to cover for co-workers so they could do something fun, and so on. There seemed to be no end to my “generosity” and need to please!  It felt good to be needed, but it came with a steep price. For starters, I was exhausted. Exhausted from taking care of others, but also exhausted from feeling so bad about myself.  

Honestly, I am not sure if I had a weight problem then or not. The number on the scale said I was “within the range” of a healthy weight and despite pictures that show otherwise, I was certain I was overweight and unattractive. (We now know BMI is not accurate in determining a healthy weight). But, back to being exhausted. 

I saw others feeling good about themselves and practicing self-care, but I didn’t know how they got there. Despite my early interest in psychology, I felt as if self-worth was out of reach. I believed profoundlythat we are products of our environment and we don’t have much control over our lives—things just happen. I thought others were “lucky” to have life go their way; I also held absolute beliefs, using words such as always, never, everybody, and nobody, to describe my life. I didn’t know I had options until one day I decided I could “try” to make improvements.  

I started reading articles on self-esteem, and I came to understand that what we say to ourselves matters. I made it a goal to stop criticizing myself. I listened to my self-talk and challenged my negative descriptions. This did not happen overnight, but with practice I could catch myself in a negative spin and challenge or stop my thoughts. My goal was to quit saying things to myself that I would not say to a friend. Then I decided that I would stop negating compliments and simply say, “Thank you.” 

Soon, I began augmenting compliments. If someone said they liked my blouse, I would get out of my comfort zone, risk being thought of as conceited, and say, “Thank you. I saw it and really liked the color.” I realized the world would not stop spinning if I were kind to myself. My confidence grew and, soon, my friendships changed. I started attracting more confident, functional people into my life, and I realized I could “keep up.”  I saw myself as more valuable and worthy of good things. And good things came.  

In the next blog, I will share with you how the subconscious works and how to tap into your strengths so good things come your way, too.

Stay tuned.

Peace and good health!