BATTLING CHILDHOOD OBESITY
Childhood obesity, why is it such a problem ?
Obesity is a complex and difficult-to-manage illness for all human beings on an emotional and physical level. For obese children, it is an absolute tragedy and, in their childish understanding, an unsolvable problem. Apart from the damage caused on the emotional and physical level, overweight children feel abandoned in every way, and their parents do not know how to help them. Since 2004, the Smart and Light program has helped dozens of children reach a healthy weight without them having to endure the least bit of suffering or frustration. But children are not equipped to make their own decisions or to take charge of their lives. Therefore, it is up to the parents to decide for them. However, before making any decisions it is important to know more about the ins and the outs of this condition.
Little fat girl in Paris
In the 1960s, an era when obesity was much less prevalent than it is today, I was an obese child in Paris. I was an isolated case and I suffered terribly from what I believed was an immensely unjust destiny. Because of my own past, a child’s suffering really touches my heart to the core and this is why I work in this profession today.
An obese child is often misunderstood and feels guilty about their weight. The sadness and isolation that an overweight child feels can be devastating to their psyche. Apart from the discomfort and fatigue that they sometimes feel as a result, obesity touches children on every level and the psychological damage they suffer because it is a real ordeal.
As a child, I endured so much suffering, both physical (due to weight limitations) and emotional. However, much of it was caused by my own internal demons. I asked God every day why He had made me fat. It is only today that I discovered the reason: so that I could help others fight their own battles with obesity.
One aspect of the overweight child’s habitual thinking is a form of self-degradation known as “the negative mindset”. The types of phrases which incessantly resonate in their minds are: “everybody hates you”, “you’re worthless”, “you are fat and ugly”, “you can’t do anything right”, “no one likes you”, “you’ll never amount to anything”, “you ruin everything you touch”, “you’re a burden to everyone else”, “you don’t deserve anything in life”, “you’re a disgusting excuse for a human being”, “you don’t deserve to live, you might as well just die”, “others have their own problems, they don’t need yours as well”, etc.
Obese children, apart from not being blessed with good genes, have something very specific in common. They suffer from a syndrome known as CNC, or “confirmed negativity condition”. These children are very sensitive to the suffering of those around them, and that of the world in general. They feel the need to look after their families and everybody else as well. These children are first-class humanists who take on the responsibility and blame themselves for the suffering of others. Often, they end up sacrificing their own identities, putting their needs aside altogether, in an attempt to forget their own existence. Fat children carry the weight of the world, as well as their own excess weight, on their shoulders, such that there is literally nothing left for them.
Our goal, today, is to reassure these children, help them recover their identity, and give them back their confidence. We also want to teach parents how their overweight child functions. The dysfunction of an obese child is the same as that of an obese adult and we need to get to the source of the problem to find its solution.
Chubby little boy
Of all the children who have come to see me, this story has inspired and touched me the most. It’s about a nine year-old boy who came to see me with his mother. The boy was the one who made the decision to lose the excess weight he was carrying. He had found me on the Internet, had read the testimonials, and had asked his mother to book a consultation.
This little boy only had about 20 lbs to lose. The main reason why this little angel wanted to lose weight was the hope that by controlling his own weight problem, he could somehow save his dad, a morbidly obese man with about 200 lbs to lose. All this was going on in the brain of this nine year-old. He came to me so that he could show his father that it was possible to lose weight and make the necessary changes to get back your life. Everything he learned from me, he took back to his father. In nine months, not only had the boy lost weight, but he became his father’s coach. Sometimes, children are more aware than we are and are ready to implement the necessary changes, if they feel empowered to do so.
Children are our future
Here a few sobering statistics regarding the incidence of obesity among children in various countries around the world.
Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that 22 million five-year-olds are overweight.
Over the past 30 years, in the US, the percentage of overweight children between the ages of 5 and 14 has increased from 15% to 32%.
One in four children in the US is overweight and 11% of them are obese.
In Beijing, 20% of school children are obese. Today in China, close to 500 million people are obese according to statistics from the WHO.
16% of Saudi Arabian school children are obese.
In the United Kingdom, 14% of 15-year-old boys are overweight (pre-obese) and about 4% are obese; for girls in the same age group, these numbers are 11 and 3%, respectively.
Italy holds the dubious distinction of holding the world record for childhood obesity with a staggering 37% of its children being obese.
If current trends continue, this will be the first generation of children who will die at an earlier age than their parents due to complications linked to obesity.
The three primary complications consist of: diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, diseases which were previously considered to mainly affect adults. According to the U.S. Institute of Medicine, 30% of boys and 40% of girls born in the United States in the year 2000 are at increased risk of acquiring Type II diabetes because of their obesity.
Other studies show an alarming tendency in this generation of children. The increasing incidence of childhood obesity is triggering an explosion in the number of cases of high blood pressure in this age group. If nothing is done to counter this, we will be faced with explosive levels of cardiovascular disease among young and older adults, according to Dr. Rebecca Din-Dziezham, a professor at the Morehouse School of Medicine, in Atlanta.
The Factors Which Trigger Obesity in our Children
What is behind this worldwide epidemic of childhood obesity? Though DNA has a role to play, the skyrocketing number of cases in the last two decades would appear to indicate that genes are not the only issue at play. According to Dr. Stephen O’Rahilly, professor of medical and clinical biochemistry at Cambridge University in England, genetic heritage alone cannot explain the alarming increase of obesity in the general population as it is simply not possible for the human genome to be so drastically modified in only 30 years. The Mayo Clinic, in turn, provides this analysis: although there are genetic and hormonal influences that can cause a child to be susceptible to obesity, the primary reasons for the high numbers of overweight children we are experiencing today are simply because kids eat too much and don’t get enough exercise.
Two tendencies illustrate the evolution of our modern-day eating habits. First, most parents work and have little time to prepare home-cooked meals. Pre-packaged, ready-to-cook meals are now becoming the norm for most households and fast food outlets are flourishing throughout the world. One study states that American children between the ages of 4 to 19 eat some form of fast food every single day! Apart from the fact that the servings in these establishments are excessively large, the foods themselves contain too much sugar and are loaded with saturated fats, thus, highly addictive.
Second, soft drinks have replaced milk and water. For example, every year Mexicans spend more money on soft drinks, particularly cola-based ones, than on the 10 main staple foods combined! Studies have shown that drinking a 16 oz soda every day can lead to a 22 lb weight gain in just one year!
Another study conducted by the University of Glasgow, in Scotland, reveals that, in general, a three-year-old child spends 20 minutes a day doing moderate to intense physical activity. Professor James Hill, pediatrician at University of Colorado, affirms that this increasingly sedentary behavior among British children is not the exception; this tendency can be found almost everywhere in the world.
Sources: The National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic
What can you do to help your overweight or obese child lose weight ?
Today’s children are in danger. As parents, we can help them, not only to get back to their healthy weight without any suffering, but also to re-establish the emotional balance that helps them develop confidence and self-awareness. With proper guidance and support, for the child as well as the family, the issues facing the overweight child can be overcome.
Smart and Light offers a number of innovative coaching methods adapted to children, such as our cheerful and festive cooking and tasting workshops, classes in behavior modification and taking responsibility for one’s own well-being, and sessions in play-oriented exercise. With our approach, we are able to hold their attention and instill in these children the desire for change without them even realizing it.
The many success stories we have witnessed here at Smart and Light prove that children can lose weight, change their unhealthy eating habits, and learn to embrace a regular exercise program without any suffering at all. Dozens of children have already come to us for help and are now able to frolic about like children once more, without any cares or worries, the way it should be.
TEENAGE OBESITY: WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?
Weight gain in adolescence and the anguish of the overweight teen
Adolescence is a time of great physical transformation, thus making it a critical period in people’s lives. The changes we go through during this phase often push us to no longer accept ourselves as readily as we once did and perhaps even to go so far as to truly reject our bodies.
For teenage girls, adolescence is a time when they become conscious of their femininity and the effect it has on the way they are perceived by others around them. Particularly by men, whose riveting stares can be embarrassing and sometimes even frightening. To ease their discomfort, many girls will make a conscious or unconscious choice to hide their curves by gaining weight and changing their body makeup. Others may go to the other extreme, rejecting food altogether and becoming anorexic; another way of eliminating their feminine curves.
For boys in their teen years, adolescence is a time they become conscious of their masculine power. They try to adjust themselves mentally so as not to disappoint which can lead to all sorts of excesses, compulsions, and even addictions.
Adolescence is also a time of protest, opposition, and non-acceptance of the current environment. The young person’s confrontational attitude and total rejection of adult guidance makes it difficult for others to intervene and help them through this volatile time.
For those who are already suffering from teenage obesity, two major problems are likely to arise: social rejection among their peers and love interests, as well as successive failures to lose the excess weight. Therefore, the risk becomes that these young people gravitate towards a mode of self-destruction; constant deprivations lead to aberrations in their eating behavior, such as binge eating, which, in turn, aggravates the obesity problem.
Personally, having been an obese child myself, I entered adolescence with existing problems and bad habits that were linked to my weight. I should say that, for me, the situation was no worse than what I had gone through as a child. In hindsight, I don’t believe I suffered any more during adolescence than in childhood, unless you count my romantic setbacks. However, it was at the family level that things began to deteriorate. I was angry with my parents for their inability to help me get through my suffering; especially for not recognizing how utterly miserable I was and for not being able to help me heal.
FACTORS CAUSING TEENAGE OBESITY:
Adolescents, the ideal target for our consumer-driven society…
Adolescents are an easy target for our consumerist economy. Given that they generate a larger percentage of this consumption than any other age group, advertising is programmed to better satisfy them. Today, to our disgrace, we even manufacture chocolate and strawberry-flavored cigarettes to encourage these young people to take up smoking! It’s the same with other advertising messages they watch throughout the day. On a daily basis, slick marketing campaigns encourage them to take up all manner of bad habits and all food and behavioral addictions.
Teens are also the victims of the new methods of virtual exchange. Through new communications mediums such as the Internet, they are pushed into buying, one after the other, the countless video games that abound on the market as well the gadgets linked to these new technologies. In addition, they don’t even need to go shopping anymore to satisfy their desires; all they need to do is convince their parents to order it online or simply order it themselves. Today, online, we can order pizzas, soft drinks, candy… For today’s teens, even hanging out with the gang at the mall or on the corner has become useless and outdated.
The agro-alimentary industry, the culprit that’s responsible for creating these poisoned foods that teenagers are so fond of, then sells them the antidote: “miracle products” from the weight-loss industry! Teenage girls are the first to fall prey. Panicked by society’s impossible criteria of beauty, they buy into the myth of the perfectly anorexic body.
But, let’s get back to this imposed sedentary behavior. An obese teenager who perceives the outside world as a source of rejection is easily tempted to isolate himself from others with his innumerable gadgets and comfort food. For these young people, practicing some kind of sport is almost ridiculously out of place as this would force them to mix with the group which would make them feel even more uncomfortable.
How can we avoid temptation, find ourselves, and break these horrible habits that isolate us, and our children, from all notion of reality?
HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR TEEN LOSE WEIGHT?
The only way to convince a sullen teenager of anything is to open up a dialog, inspire trust and make use of humor. At Smart and Light, our supervisors and coaches have helped dozens of overweight and obese teens over the last twelve years by providing the encouragement these young people need to dedicate themselves to their transformation.
The Smart and Light E-learning program is another tool that is perfectly adapted to the lifestyle of today’s teenager. Behind the computer monitor, far away from any indiscreet looks, they can make the decision to change and to participate in their own transformation, in a manner that is both fun and meets their needs.
How do you lose weight as an adult ?
OVERWEIGHT AND OBESITY IN THE EYES OF SOCIETY
The traumas endured by overweight or obese children dramatically scar their adolescence, and continue to be present in adulthood. The standards of society allow any adult to reproduce, but for people who are overweight or obese, finding a mate is a challenge, an almost impossible wager. Career-wise, being overweight or obese can keep them from getting the job they want or may even cause them to lose their job. At a social level, the discomfort of being overweight or obese may be a huge obstacle to their mobility, which causes them to restrict social activities, leading to withdrawal and isolation.
AT THE SENTIMENTAL LEVEL
There are thousands of questions going through an overweight or obese adult’s mind in today’s society: Can I find someone who finds me desirable the way I am? And if I do manage to find them, will I feel trapped in an inferior position? Who could possibly want to get in bed with me or hold my hand in the street, have dinner with me at a fancy restaurant or introduce me to their friends? Who could be proud of me, the way I am?
If these questions don’t arise when they’re already in a relationship, other problems can appear. Within any relationship, there is a structure: certain patterns and habits are established; daily tasks and decision-making responsibilities are distributed. The overweight or obese adult will tend to compensate for what they feel is a burden on their partner by doing whatever the latter wishes, without complaint. Their self-confidence will be damaged as a result. The image they have of themselves will be redefined by the new image as forming part of a couple. The reality is that our partners are not responsible of our vision of ourselves and sometimes hold us in more esteem than we do ourselves.
AT THE PROFESSIONAL LEVEL
Obese candidates are, on average, 2 times less likely to land a job interview. For a position in sales, the odds of the obese person getting a positive response drop even further, to 3 times less… and 24% fewer for a position in telemarketing! Laws have been enacted against discrimination because not all recruiters are morally aware and may choose candidates based on a photo and an assumed weight. However, physical appearance is considered a discriminatory selection criterion in the same way as ethnicity, gender, or religious affiliation. Whether the position is in sales or in telemarketing, physical discrimination is just as illegal.
Job discrimination suffered for reasons of obesity particularly affects already disadvantaged social classes. In Western nations such as France, the connections between the two are well known. Consequently, job discrimination at the moment of recruitment is more likely to affect candidates who already have problems finding employment because of their gender, ethnic origin, skin color, having grown up in a disadvantaged neighborhood, or lack of education. However, for many businesses in areas such as communication, being overweight is a major obstacle to being hired, before other factors such as background, living standards, education level, cultural background, social and intellectual qualities, qualifications, or relevant experience are even considered. Unfortunately, image is crucial in this day and age and we prefer to match certain types of people to certain positions based on their appearance, as opposed to hiring qualified people lacking in the desired physical attributes. Those who are overweight or obese might find administrative or other positions where they rarely come in contact with the public more easily because the business feels its image won’t be altered due to an employee’s appearance.
ON A SOCIAL LEVEL
Whether the overweight or obese person integrates or not into a circle of friends depends on their attitude. Those who already have a circle of friends won’t suffer the isolation of the ones who don’t. People with serious weight problems find it almost unimaginable to spontaneously go towards a group of people and integrate themselves socially and it’s just as unlikely that the group will approach them. Thus, they withdraw from others in an attempt to avoid rejection and scoffing looks. They will avoid groups, parties, social activities, outings, and other people in an attempt to avert suffering. The social isolation of the overweight person is practically inevitable, whatever their family situation. How many married women refuse to accompany their husband to family events for fear of being judged? How many men refuse to accompany their family on walks in the woods or to sporting events for fear of not being able to blend in?
HOW DO YOU LOSE WEIGHT WHEN YOU THINK YOU’VE TRIED EVERYTHING ?
Once we reach adulthood, we try everything to lose weight and nothing seems to work, so we give up or lose all hope. We lose confidence in our power to change, in our power, period. When we are obese or overweight, we harbor such feelings of sadness and guilt that we develop a profound hate for ourselves. When we’re plagued with these negative emotions, it’s difficult if not impossible to get over them and to lose the weight on our own. This is where the support of a good coach can be crucial.
I, myself, went through all of the stages of obesity and I managed to overcome it. This is why I can reach out to someone who is living the same situation. I spent more than 20 years asking myself questions and searching for a way to help myself without the process being overly demanding or having to endure much suffering during the course of transformation.
I finally found the necessary ingredients to build this program and for the last twelve years I’ve been helping others get their weight under control. What gives me the most pleasure is rescuing someone from this painful situation, setting them back on the right path and handing them back the reins to their own life. The Smart and Light program was conceived with this goal in mind. Our behavioral, culinary and physical guidance sessions are intended help you regain control while teaching you to see life from a different angle. It’s through pleasure, and not constraint, that you will find your bearings again for a better, much happier life.
OUR RESPONSIBILITY AS PARENTS
Let’s not forget that when we reach adulthood, we are already parents, or at least in the process of becoming so. We must be role models for our children in every way. Our first responsibility as parents is to teach them to eat well and to live in a healthy manner. Animals in the wild do this; the parents’ teach their offspring how to feed and fend for themselves in their natural habitat, in order that their little ones may survive and, in turn, rear their own families.
Eating healthily is a duty for us and for our children because if they don’t learn how to do this at home, they certainly won’t learn it at school or in the cafeteria, unfortunately. If we don’t set a good example, our children will be the first victims of our negligence. What we do for ourselves, we do for our own family, it’s important to think about this and understand all its implications.
EXCESS WEIGHT OR OBESITY IN WOMEN
Over the last twelve years, I have coached many women who came to see me at various stages of their lives: as a child, teenager, young woman, bride-to-be, women who were ready to have children, women unable to get pregnant, expectant mothers, mothers, pre- or post-menopausal women, single or recently separated women, and women in their senior years. Each of these women had very specific expectations about losing weight; each had her own life story, circumstances, needs, and responsibilities towards her significant other, family or employer.
With each of these women, I strove to find the most suitable way for them to begin the journey of transformation they were about to undertake. In most cases, by working together we were able to achieve their weight-loss goals with optimal results that are certain to last over the long term. For each particular case, there is a solution. On numerous occasions, I have observed that the metamorphosis which takes place in their bodies and in their lives has a very positive impact on their equilibrium as women and that their formerly negative states of mind are transformed into an optimistic point of view that becomes an integral part of their lives from that point on. Watching the acceptance and affirmation of their rediscovered femininity is always a great joy and a real satisfaction for me. I enjoy being witness to the positive changes in the lives of these women, changes which are a delight to those around them: their families, their spouses, their children, and, above all, themselves. Their success is worth more than a symbolic crowning as the Best Actress at Cannes, since it is the primary role of their lives.
SEXUALITY AND EXCESS WEIGHT
I will say that of all aspects in the life of an overweight or obese woman, sexuality is the one that is impacted the most, apart from certain health problems. A woman’s sexuality is an integral part of her overall well-being; it’s the key to her emotional life, her life as a woman.
Feeling as if you’re not pleasing to others, feeling that you don’t please yourself, feeling undesirable; obese women have the impression that they are on the sidelines of society. Young women who have been obese for some time feel completely rejected and banished from society and its dogma of skinny beauty. As they suffer from discrimination, they realize it will be difficult for them to marry and settle down. This causes them enormous anguish, especially when they are at the age to marry and have children.
There was a time when being overweight or even obese was a sign of grace, femininity and sensuality. In some countries, excess weight was considered a sign of good health, strength, or wealth.
But times have changed, and our criteria for measuring beauty as well.
No more graceful “love handles”, big butts and “thunder thighs”, with the exception of admirers of large women, who are relatively few in number. In the modern world, men prefer their women thin and women know it.
Men who claim to be attracted to obese women (fat admirers) tend to be considered by psychiatrists as voyeuristic or regressive, and in their fantasies, debase the woman as an object.
But here again, a woman who does not love her body cannot understand how a man can appreciate it. She will shun intercourse, or will experience it in a very negative way.
The consequence of this poor self-image often leads to sexual disorders called “anorgasmia”, also known as “frigidity”, a condition which may date all the way back to childhood. Indeed, women are not able to enjoy sex in the mechanical way that men do. We need ideal surroundings as well as the fulfillment of certain conditions to experience pleasure.
In some cases, refusal to lose weight may be related to the fear of becoming “too” attractive or “too” vulnerable to seduction. Not that obese women are afraid to please, but they may be fearful of revealing their true nature, one in which they release unbridled sexuality. Therefore, they continue to eat. On the other hand, they may overeat in an attempt to dissuade unwanted sexual advances.
In cases of bulimia, another paradox of obesity, eating binges can result from a basic imbalance of a sexual nature.
Food is often used to fill an emotional void, to calm fears, to remain silent and not say hurtful things, or as a replacement for sex. What the bulimic personality fears most in the sexual act is having to surrender to their partner so they are no longer the one in control. But, having control is obviously not that.
These women are also afraid of experiencing deep emotions and of spending time alone with themselves. If their sex life is unsatisfying, it is because their urges have been suppressed at different times in the development of their sexuality. Binge eating is not the root cause of sexual problems, low self-esteem and negative judgment of the body is. Therefore, in cases of bulimia, therapeutic approaches focus mainly on body care and psychotherapy and put nutrition on the back burner.
Bulimia is often associated with a strong sexual anorexia: desire is often absent, and sexual intercourse is mostly experienced in a detached state, as if the subject was a spectator to the act.
To conclude on this crucial aspect a woman’s life, one for which it seemed important to devote an entire chapter, I will say that if your obesity negatively affects your sexuality, it is essential to consider the impact this will have on the rest of your life.
No sexuality, no affection, no love, no games of seduction, no physical pleasure, no satisfaction of the sensual kind; you risk missing out on many aspects of your life as a woman, wife, mother, or life partner.
We must therefore stop kidding ourselves, as many of us have done at some stage of frustrated love, telling ourselves we don’t care. This is never the case. Of course we care, and quite a lot!
You will not live without love, but please, take the first step towards finding it yourself, we are worth it, as the L’OREAL commercial says, and we are our first allies.
The effort made by many women to denigrate themselves, to forget about themselves on a physical level as well as in their mode of dress, to hide or hate themselves and to pay for those choices, is more work than they would have to do to reverse the trend and reclaim their lives and well-being. We all have the capacity to change these horrible, erroneous messages we are constantly sending to our brain which upset our actions, our behavior, our relationships, our choices and our lives.
We are all capable of making good decisions, taking action, organizing ourselves and our lives in such a way that we may live better, eat better, dress better, walk more, but mostly be able to control our lives and control ourselves, knowing that the circumstances of our lives are a choice that we have made deliberately.
The first coach, who was a tennis coach, said: “The worst enemy of any player on the court is above all, himself!”
Now, the ball is in your court. You can do it!
Pregnancy is the ultimate symbol of femininity and love. It is also a symbol of continuity, and of life itself.
But pregnancy is also the stage of life where we pass from the established position; that of being someone’s child to being someone’s parent. We become responsible for the life of this being that we are bringing into the world. Responsible for his health, his well-being, his education, his environment, as well as any messages we wish to transmit. Otherwise, why make a baby, just to have something to do or for the fun of it?
Becoming a parent means assuming a number of responsibilities; hence, the decision to procreate should not be taken lightly.
For a future mom who is also obese, the risks are even greater.
If she has reached this stage of maturity (one in which she is old enough to bear a child) and has not yet incorporated good food choices and healthier habits into her life, and even more so if she is focused on problems with her image or her solitude and is still sending faulty messages to herself, what positive messages can she hope to convey to her child?
I’m not trying to dissuade obese women from becoming mothers, but rather am attempting to convey a message that is important to the future of their children.
A mother should be an example and should organize the environment in which her child lives by making the best choices, sacrifices and changes.
In general, women often boast about quitting smoking when they learn they are pregnant. That’s good, certainly, but what about the rest?
A cradle in pastel colors and a colorful room filled with cuddly teddy bears are not the most important elements of a good environment in which to raise a child.
There is no malice in my words, but simply the desire to raise the awareness of these women who should be the first to say they do not want their child to become obese.
A full-term baby who is about to come into the world, with its placenta and enveloping tissue, weighs about 7 to 9 pounds. Add to this: 2 quarts of retained water and 4 to 7 pounds of fat reserves and you arrive at a total of 20 to 23 pounds.
This is the amount of weight that a future mother should gain during her pregnancy, and not an ounce more.
As I mentioned in the chapter on childhood obesity, eating badly and in copious quantities during pregnancy can cause your baby to start off on the wrong foot, giving it a predisposition towards eating the wrong foods, and even becoming addicted to them.
On the other hand, obesity not only increases the risk of infertility, but also the risk of complications during pregnancy. It increases the risk of hypertension and diabetes, risk factors which are known to contribute to premature deliveries and neonatal complications. An obese woman is also more likely to give birth to a big baby (macrosomia), require a Cesarean section, have a miscarriage or a stillborn birth.
Obesity during pregnancy can also trigger conditions such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, or phlebitis.
Therefore, I recommend that during your pregnancy, you try not to exceed 2000 calories per day, while eating a wide variety of foods, especially good, wholesome products.
Here are some guidelines to follow in your eating plan.
Eat as much as you like and whenever you are hungry.
Eat meats, with the exception of pork and mutton as these contain too much fat.
Eat poultry, but without the skin.
Eat all types of fish except for smoked fish. Also, avoid seafood as it is not recommended during pregnancy.
Eat fruit, but no more than 5 portions per day. Also, stay away from very sweet fruits, such as figs, dates, bananas, and cherries. Avocados, which have a high fat content, should also be avoided.
Eat all vegetables, with the exception of beets and potatoes.
Avoid rice, pasta, and corn, which are not essential to your well-being.
Eat 0% dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Eat fresh eggs, but not too many.
Eat only one slice of bread per day, two at the most.
Avoid fats such as olive oil and butter, try to limit yourself to a teaspoon of one of these per day.
Avoid sweets, and if you crave chocolate, take a square or two of dark chocolate a day, but no more, as it might trigger sugar cravings.
Avoid all sugary drinks, tea, and coffee, as they will overexcite both you and your baby.
Avoid alcoholic beverages, which not only harm your baby, but they also cause you to gain weight.
Drink one to two liters of pure, distilled water per day. This will help flush toxins out of your body.
Other activities that have been proven to be beneficial include:
Lying down and relaxing for ten minutes as often as you can, it’s good for your circulation.
Taking short walks – if your pregnancy allows.
Relaxing in a warm bath. Use the opportunity to massage your belly and say nice things to your baby.
Listening to soft, relaxing music.
Keeping a small journal where, every day, you can write about all the beautiful things you want to do for your baby and all the loving messages you want to convey to him.
Taking good care of yourself. Try doing self-massage: it causes you to radiate health and beauty. You are giving life.
Reading good books on personal development from authors such as Louise Hay, Anthony Robbins or Deepak Chopra, these will motivate you.
Repeating to yourself as often as you can that you love yourself, that you love life, and this is why you’re bringing a child into the world.
Children are gifts from heaven, they are an inexhaustible source of love, experiences, and learning.
For them and through them, we become better because they motivate us to give the best of ourselves. Their radiance shows us the way and makes us want to shine in turn.
You will be a wonderful mom and, in your child’s eyes, you will always be the best.
Always do things with your heart, because we overweight people have a lot of love inside to give, and our hearts are overflowing with it. It is our defining feature.
The start of a brand new life represents a change for all family members. With the arrival of a new baby, a wonderful adventure begins. However, it totally turns our lives upside down.
Postpartum depression, otherwise known as the “baby blues”, affects 7 out of 10 new mothers. They feel overwhelmed, lost, incompetent, and helpless because they are going through a metamorphosis at all levels.
Once a woman becomes a mother, her status changes and she must also reorganize her conjugal life.
Get some help, right from the start, because you need it. Explain this to your family and friends and find a way to avoid having to do it all on your own. If there is any financial investment to be made, this is it.
Grant yourself the services of an expert, a midwife or a nanny, for at least a few hours a day during the first month, from the time you return home from the hospital.
Learn everything you can on a technical level, as it is not easy to become a mother from one day to the next, and this will help you relax.
Rest is essential, otherwise, with all the sleepless nights, you may get a little unglued. If you are exhausted, nothing will work out as it should, and, combined with the stress of a new baby, the fatigue will eventually become detrimental to your health.
Also, try to get Dad to take over from time to time during the night, it is his duty to help.
Take everything with humor and patience. Don’t play the victim as, after all, you made the decision to have a child, right? If your baby is crying, do what you feel is right; don’t blindly follow other people’s advice. When it comes to your baby’s emotional state, you are his mother, and the bond between you and your child is the only one that should be taken into account. Take charge of the situation with patience and serenity, you are now a mother, and it’s time to show it.
Feeling nervous and anxious is pointless. Listen to your common sense, and everything will be fine.
If you operate from the assumption that you will be stressed out, your baby will pick up on it, and so will other members of your family. This is not a good thing.
The hours in which you have someone take over for you are essential. Use this time to catch up on your sleep or take relaxing, hot baths with essential oils. This is not the time to rush about trying to get the shopping done. Instead, try to recuperate, and ask Dad and other family members for their help.
Read, relax, take care of yourself, your appearance, your body. Remember that these new changes also affect the father of the child.
Perform the exercises recommended by your doctor or physiotherapist.
Try to eat in as healthy a manner as possible, and tell yourself this is not the time to stuff yourself if you’re feeling tempted to do so.
When you finish breastfeeding your baby, which I highly recommend you do, start preparing small vegetable soups with meat and fish for him.
Take advantage of them for yourself.
Try to eat, you and your baby, food that is as healthy and organic as possible, be watchful of the foods your child eats, and there’s no need to add a quarter cup of butter in your recipes, half a teaspoon will do.
Give him water in his bottle, don’t instill in him a need for sugar, a taste which is so difficult to get rid of.
You should drink water or herbal teas, as well as fresh-squeezed juices, especially orange and lemon for the vitamin C they contain.
Eat meat, but not pork or mutton, fish whenever you like, seafood, raw and cooked vegetables.
Avoid starchy vegetables, pasta, sweets, fats, and bread in large quantities. You don’t need these foods. One to two slices of whole-grain bread a day is plenty, if it’s absolutely necessary.
Eat dairy products with 0% fat and eggs, but no more than two of these per day.
You can also eat pickles and use mustard and spices.
The trick is never to be hungry, so take the time to fill your fridge with good foods, like roast chicken, turkey slices, big salads with water-packed tuna and boiled eggs, balsamic vinegar and a few drops of paraffin.
Prepare snacks, such as large tomatoes filled with tuna or hard-boiled eggs or steamed zucchini on which you sprinkle just a bit of salt or Parmesan cheese. You can also prepare gazpacho with fresh tomatoes, water, cucumber and a little garlic, and drink a glass of it several times a day.
Eat 20 times a day if you want, just don’t eat the wrong foods.
Don’t drink either tea or coffee unless they’re decaffeinated because it raises your stress level and that’s the last thing you need.
If you feel overtired, take a magnesium supplement, or consult your physician.
Try to send yourself good, positive messages as you would do for your baby. Kind and encouraging words to yourself cannot hurt, on the contrary.
Tell yourself that your mission as a mother is to shine for you and your family: SHINE, is the key word here.
In life, every day counts, and there’s no point in wasting time before doing things well.
Having a child is an absolutely wonderful thing, and, despite the difficulties you will encounter at times, it will bring meaning to your life, and mountains of love that is real, powerful, and unconditional.
Your duty as a mother, and no one else’s, is to be worthy of that love, and give back more than you receive. You will see that this sets a very high bar because your children will love you anyway. They only see in you that which is the most beautiful, but it is so worth it not to disappoint them!
Show them that you are living up to their expectations, and that they are not mistaken in any way about your wonderful potential!
PREMENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE
Menopause is a natural part of our lives as women, and should not be viewed as a disease, disability, or curse.
It obviously causes a lot of changes, many of which are related to the age when it occurs in our lives, at about 50 years of age.
Marked by the cessation of menstruation, it is a transitional stage. Although it will strongly influence our senses and emotions, we must adapt to it since menopause represents over a third of our lives.
Today, when we see certain 50-year-old women shine like young girls, we know there is no need to worry.
Aging in calendar years is the rule of the game, and not a privilege reserved strictly for women. It is up to us not to fall into the trap, and say, “That’s it, my life is over”, on the contrary. This phase of our lives should be welcomed with dignity, like all those that preceded it which we used to our advantage. Why not take the time to make a positive assessment of our lives in order to live as best we can and in good health, both for ourselves and for those surrounding us.
Premenopause is the stage that precedes the end of the menstrual cycle. This period can last from a few months to 5 years. During this phase, you will likely experience menstrual irregularities and excessive bleeding, which can be quite painful.
When you have not experienced a menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months, you are considered to be menopausal.
The following symptoms are related to menopause.
• Hot flashes and night sweats.
• Vaginal dryness and pain during sex (atrophic vaginitis).
• Urinary incontinence and recurrent urinary tract infections.
• Changing sexual reactions: decreased libido.
• Insomnia, fatigue and weariness.
• Weight gain.
• Mood swings, irritability.
• Poor memory.
• Tendency towards depression.
• Anxiety and nervousness.
But let’s get back to the theme of this book, weight gain.
Like all of life’s phases that may prove to be a challenge, menopause is for the obese, or ex-obese woman a time in which they may revert back into bad habits, because bad habits tend to come back when we’re feeling anxious.
Moreover, this period generally coincides with external factors that are also a source of stress, such as empty nest syndrome and approaching retirement.
You absolutely must contain the damage by watching what you eat and getting regular exercise.
Try not to exceed 2,200 calories per day and eating foods that are as healthy as possible.
1000 calories per day of carbohydrates, which are found in cereals, beans, vegetables, milk, and fruit. Carbohydrates are used to obtain energy. Glucose is the fuel used by all cells of the body. Carbohydrates do not cause weight gain when they are consumed in the proper quantities and when they are consumed to meet energy needs.
800 calories of fat, found in olive oil, in oily fruits like walnuts, pine nuts and hazelnuts, and avocados. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and these are essential because our body needs them to function properly and it is not capable of producing them. They are extremely beneficial to us.
However, avoid the fatty parts of meat, bacon, lard, butter, sour cream and margarine.
400 calories of protein found in meat, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, soy, dairy products with 0% fat or jerky. Proteins are essential to our well-being, and don’t cause weight gain.
There are several treatments you can follow to reduce the symptoms of menopause, but they should be tailored to your specific needs. At the first symptoms, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor, who will be able to guide you through this process.
But, at the same time, try to eat as healthy as possible, to relax, and to practice at least half an hour of physical activity, whatever type of exercise suits you the best.
When you experience decreased energy, mix the juice of one lemon with a cup of water and a teaspoon of honey, it’s low in calories and will boost your energy.
A woman’s life is fraught with physical and moral trials that can be somewhat challenging at times, but we are strong and have within us the capacity to withstand them, overcome them, and become even stronger. We also have the ability to pick ourselves up when we’re down and bounce back.
Menopause is not the most difficult time of our lives. Like everything else in life, it requires self-acceptance and a bit of organization. If you’ve made it this far, you will make it through these changes.
Each stage of life, like every day we spend on Earth, is an opportunity to learn, grow, and discover our endless possibilities. Women know how to adapt, and this new stage of life can, if you decide to make it so, become synonymous with much happiness.
OVERWEIGHT & OBESITY IN MEN
Men have not escaped the scourge of overweight and obesity, and if the average numbers are slightly lower than in women, the incidence of obesity is alive and well. However, the problem is not as widely discussed for the simple reason that men tend to talk less than women. Also, they may be better able manage the condition on a psychological level than women.
I have worked with many men over the last twelve years and know they face just as many challenges as women, but have different concerns. Fortunately, they are just as motivated to change.
Working together, we found the methods that were essential to their progress at the start of their weight loss journey, and all of them, without exception, were successful in achieving their goals. Men are generally more aware of the dangers they face due to overweight and obesity. They are very good at participating in the Smart and Light program because they have less nostalgia about the lifestyle changes that need to become their new habits. I’m always excited to watch their rebirth and see them reclaim their youth and vitality.
Nevertheless, the overweight or obese man is exposed to the same risks as women as well as certain health problems that do not exist in women, such as cancer of the prostate.
Physical discomfort is perhaps easier for men to deal with as they are better able to cope with excess weight. They find their body image to be less disturbing because they often associate a larger body mass with strength and virility; hence the extra weight makes them feel more powerful.
However, on a professional level, men find obesity to be more of a challenge because they experience discrimination in the workplace, especially in areas such as sales where presenting a good image is important.
Also, in a society where being slim is a major criterion of beauty and desirability, big men are obviously playing a losing game. It’s at the age when they first begin dating that rejection in love affects them the most. If the little fat boy failed to lose weight despite the taunts and jeers of classmates, he will be persuaded, through frustrated attempts to achieve success with the opposite sex, to be more motivated to act. Frustrated sexual impulses, emotional rejection and love are all good reasons to take charge.
And if his abundant charm has not prevented the obese teenager or young man from wanting and having normal relations, he will likely experience discrimination in the professional arena, which can present a real obstacle to hiring.
For many employers, it goes without saying that a candidate’s obesity reflects his personality: a weak individual with a lack of will to control their own compulsions, therefore unlikely to exhibit the expertise, responsiveness, autonomy and professionalism the company wishes to portray.
Obese employees are also sick more often than those at a normal weight; hence they represent a loss of profitability for the company.
Risk factors for men:
Risk factors linked to obesity in men are, for the most part, the same as for women. In addition, they may develop cancers of the prostate, a loss of fertility, and experience erectile difficulties as their organ may get lost in pubic fat, thus causing complications with the sexual act if not rendering it impossible altogether.
But men, who are generally less resistant to pain and stress than women, are more likely to experience the symptoms of fatigue and discomfort brought on by their excess weight: shortness of breath, headaches, migraines, lower back and joint pain, heaviness in the legs, dizziness, flushing, excessive sweating, and a debilitating sense of fatigue.
Men are also more reluctant than women to heal, (for they are a little shy) and thus have a tendency to put on even more weight due to a lack of information and self-care. They experience heart attacks more often than women because men are more likely to be smokers and drinkers as well. Due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, men exercise less, if at all, so they’re not using up the excess calories they’re consuming.
As is the case with women, they also develop depressive disorders due to overweight, but find it more difficult to get help by talking to a psychiatrist because psychiatric counseling, for them, denotes a weakness in character.
Obesity is a contributing factor in the incidence of prostate cancer.
The larger size of the prostate in obese men makes it harder to perform accurate cancer screening. In the obese man, biopsies do not extend over the entire prostate gland; hence, diagnosis becomes more difficult. Prostate cancer is the second-most common form of cancer in the US, after skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2005, 232,000 American men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and over 30,000 of these have since died. Recent studies show that excessive consumption of dairy products is to blame. Now, the recommendation is to replace cow’s milk with soy milk, and to eat more tomato sauce, tomatoes, tomato juice, and strawberries, foods which contain lycopene, a nutrient which reduces the risk of prostate cancer.
Proper diet and regular exercise reduce the risk of prostate cancer by up to 30%. Hence, a low-fat, high-fiber diet in conjunction with regular exercise can reduce the incidence of prostate cancer dramatically.
Gentlemen, please eat more healthy foods, even if you eat out or in your workplace. Forget your endless sandwiches and pizzas, and instead opt for fish, chicken, meat, vegetables, and fruit. Put aside the bread and the beer, reject all that is fat and sweet, and get some exercise!
Drink lots of water and eat as many times as you like in a day, but be sure to eat healthy foods.
Social and Professional Discrimination
In our society, discrimination against the obese is a shared reality for both men and women, yet the employment bias affects mainly men. The French are aware of this with 74% of respondents considering that an obese candidate has a lesser chance of being hired than another who is equally qualified.
Obese men are also discriminated against when it comes to access to jobs involving contact with the customer.
Obese candidates, on average, are two times less likely to land a job interview. The obese receive three times fewer positive responses for a position in the trades … and 24% fewer positive responses for jobs in telemarketing! Laws against discrimination are required because some recruiters select job candidates based on a photo and assumed weight. However, using physical appearance as a selection criterion is discriminatory in the same manner as a bias against one’s ethnicity, gender, or religious affiliation. Whether it’s a sales position or a job as in telemarketing, discrimination due to one’s physical appearance is just as illegal.
The discrimination in access to employment experienced by obese people particularly affects disadvantaged groups. In Western countries like France, these links are well known. Discrimination in recruitment is most likely to affect candidates who already experience difficulties in finding employment because of their gender, country of origin, skin color, being raised in a disadvantaged neighborhood or lack of schooling.
Obesity is a contributing facture in academic failure and the marginalization of many young boys. The situation is then compounded by direct and indirect discrimination at various stages of their lives, unfair, yes, but practically inevitable. I will say that this injustice towards men is of the same order as that against women, in terms of societal pressure to emulate some unrealistic “ideal”, which puts many of them at a disadvantage on the “desirability” market. To each his burden, and his share of misery.
The Emergence of Male Complexes
There once was a time when the reassuring big man and bon vivant was highly appreciated by members of the opposite sex, and never would such a man even consider having complexes. We loved these men for being big, funny and friendly, and we respected the authoritarian who was big, strong, and impressive, as he generally represented power and/or money.
But, those days are gone and being big, whether one is nice or not, is no longer fashionable. The big man is no longer looked upon with respect; he has lost his “sex appeal” and his manhood. The big teddy bear, soft and comforting, will have to change his ways if he wishes to please. Meanwhile, the big man who’s severe and grumpy can go bang his fist on the table elsewhere.
The fat man, because of his weight, seems older, less dynamic, less responsible, less manly, and less “in”. Women today do not seek to attract a mate who will be a burden to them, especially one that doesn’t cut a good figure.
What is new when it comes to male obesity is the emergence of the male complex.
Today, too big equals not sexy, no fancy clothes, no girlfriend, no social life, no confidence, no respect from others, no credibility, not getting hired, no job, no money, no vacations, no entertainment, no bank credit, no life insurance, no place when taking public transport …
In short, everything a man needs to exist.
And it is so difficult for these men to open up and talk about it. Difficult as well because there is virtually no self-help group for obese men and nothing else is offered that is relevant to their problems.
Gentlemen, know that I sympathize with that feeling of loneliness because when I was an obese girl living in France, so many years ago, I was an isolated case. So, I know first-hand what it’s like to experience obesity in this lonely way.
However, also know that the situation is the same for obese women, and that you have the power to change your fate.
I highly recommend to these gentlemen that they read this book by Anthony Robbins, one of the greatest coaches of our generation: “Awaken the Giant Within”.
Anthony Robbins was once obese, ill at ease, and very lost before discovering the awareness that led him to be, today, not just a “playboy”, but an extraordinary speaker as well as the biggest healer of all time.
Give yourself the means to change and change the course of events.
You’re up to the task and we need you.