Dr. Phil's Plan for Weight-Loss Success

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Food and Coping

Q: You've talked about using food to cope with bad feelings and to celebrate happy occasions. Why are we so emotionally tied up with eating?

Dr. Phil: Part of it is the marketing machine in America. The wily people behind these strategies understand that the No. 1 need in all of us is acceptance. And this plays on two levels. First, a baked potato never says no. A cheeseburger never has a headache. I mean, you never get rejected by food. Also, if you look at fast-food commercials, it's all beautiful people, cool kids laughing and families grinning from ear to ear. So there's this image of fun, celebration, and belonging. Well, that's what advertisers want you to experience. And that's how they program people to eat emotionally.

Q: It's like cultivating an addiction.

Dr. Phil: There actually are things that happen on a physiological level. When you eat, blood goes to your digestive system. Your body temperature goes up and then there's this feeling of calm and relaxation. We like that feeling, and it becomes a habitual way of comforting ourselves. So you eat something that tastes good -- usually high in fat, carbohydrates, and sugar. You'll get fat, and you'll stay overweight until you learn to replace eating with some other coping skill.

Q: What's the most important first step to fixing the problem?

Dr. Phil: You've got to get real with yourself. I mean, don't play the victim. "Oh, I've got to diet. I've got to work out. Poor me." What a crock. The second thing is setting a realistic goal. Don't try to keep yourself at some emaciated level. I'm a big guy. I played football all my life. I weigh 240 pounds, but I've got real low body fat because I have a lot of bulk and muscle mass. And set a reasonable timeline, which is the difference between a dream and a goal. You say you wish you were as slender as when you were single. Yeah, yeah, I'm sure you do. But that's not the same as saying I'm going to get down to 160 pounds from 185, and I'm going to do that by losing two pounds a week. You say I'm going to exercise four days a week. You make a plan and work it.

Q: Easier said than done. You might swear to run four mornings a week, but getting out of bed in the morning is awfully hard.

Dr. Phil: It is. But there are things you can do to support your resolve. Create some accountability with yourself. If I don't work out today, I don't watch TV tonight. Don't be a lone ranger. If you don't trust yourself, get somebody you do trust to exercise with, like a friend or spouse. But if they don't show up, that's not your excuse to not be there.

Continued on page 4:  Dr. Phil's Diet Plan


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