EXCESS WEIGHT OROBESITY IN WOMEN
SMART & LIGHT
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.