Women and their weight

"I feel fat…why is this always on my mind?"

Ladies – we are so self-conscious about our weight, so much so that we are obsessed with it. Our thoughts weigh us down with the ‘heaviness’ we feel about this all too common female issue. There isn’t a woman I have known that doesn’t watch her weight.

Women spend billions of dollars every year trying to find a weight loss solution. According to ABC 20/20 News on May 8, 2012, the annual revenue of the U.S. weight loss industry, including diet books, diet drugs, and weight loss surgeries is $20 billion (watch the full story on “Losing It: The Big Fat Trap” on “20/20” on-line). The compelling numbers tell us just how anxious, frustrated and sometimes desperate women become when their weight defines who they are. What’s interesting, however is that weight is very often a self-esteem issue or a fear of intimacy issue, and not an “I’m just eating the wrong foods” issue.

Here’s why killing yourself at the gym just isn’t going to work, and dieting will fail you. When we look at weight from the outside we are looking in the wrong place. We need to look at weight from the inside in order to get a different result on the outside. If you believe what advertisers tell you about their products, then the only thing you are going to lose is your hard earned money! This very delicate issue is not as simple as counting your calories or taking a pill. Weight is a big deal for women because we measure ourselves by it–not just with a tape measure, but also with our own internal police station. We measure our competence by it, our value and worthiness by it, our femininity and how desirable we are to someone by it, and the list goes on. Weight becomes who we are, how capable we are, how lovable we are, etc.

How can therapy help me if I am depressed or anxious about my weight?

If you are like most women who have tried everything to battle their discomfort about their weight without much success, then chances are your weight is not likely to be the problem. It is the symptom. In other words, our weight may be the first thing we see as we look at ourselves in the mirror on a daily basis, so we are visually reminded of our discomfort. Or, if you are the woman who has to get on the scale daily, then what you actually weigh will be a painful reminder, unless you realize your clothes are not fitting. These are the ways women torture themselves.

What you don’t see lies hidden on the inside of you, and that is where help begins. Your discomfort begins from the inside out! If you have never explored how your self-esteem is very much related to your “heaviness”, then this is where your story really begins. Body Image and self-image are tied together like peanut butter and jelly. When we throw in genetics, exercise and aging, we have a casserole like no other. Weight problems then are very complicated, and since we have not developed a way to put self-esteem in an over the counter product, I am suggesting that looking at your feelings may be the key to a happier you! Psychological roadblocks lead to weight gain or weight loss. Could this be the reason why dieting just doesn’t work for you? I am suggesting that when we begin to look at family patterns, how you were rewarded as a child, how your mother soothed you with a cookie, or how you soothe yourself in general on a daily basis, we begin to put the puzzle pieces together that tell us how food has become or always has been very, very important in your life! (Beyond hunger)

“So, what am I really hungry for?”

This is of course what I think is the million dollar question. I am not talking about Mexican vs. Italian for dinner. This question pertains to being able to have an emotional connection with yourself regarding what is calling to you. Simply put, emotional eating does not lead one to healing. We must then ask: How fulfilled are you in your life? Are you enough? Were you starved emotionally as a child? In therapy, a woman can search deeply for the dynamics, which have brought her to her discomfort. The experience can be truly life changing. In a safe environment, and with another woman, you can face yourself and the areas of your life that need to shift. Emotional shifting is like defragging your computer; we are shifting the moving parts-making room for the new, putting the old to rest, or doing a little of both. A dietician, a green tea supplement, and eating organically will not do this! A physician telling you to exercise more will not help. In fact, if you are a woman who has been on a roller coaster of dieting her whole life, chances are you will feel too vulnerable and be put off by someone who tells you what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat, etc. I will help you find the fullness in your life you are looking for. I will help you to think about the big picture so you can be your best self, so you can stop obsessing and torturing yourself about your weight. Your chances for success increase if you really understand what’s eating you!

Women in Abusive Relationships

Secrets That Lead to Shame

Am I in an abusive relationship?

Most of us think of physical violence, when we hear about a woman who is in an abusive relationship. Yet, the term abusive can be expanded to any relationship that involves emotional cruelty, such as harsh insulting language. There does not have to be physical violence in order to categorize a relationship as abusive. More than likely, if you are in an abusive relationship, you know it. You feel trapped and/or frightened, so it is extremely difficult for you to reach out for help. Sometimes, there is a level of threat from a partner that is so severe, you may be terrified for your life.

A woman can be physically or emotionally battered, both of which present troubling circumstances, particularly if children are involved. If there is alcohol or drug use added into the mix, then an abusive relationship can be a ticking time bomb. There is a strong link between violence, anger outbursts and substance abuse. If you are hoping and praying for a partner to change, if you forsake your own personal limits, if you act out of compliance due to fear, feel constantly manipulated, or make exceptions for behavior you would not tolerate in anyone else, you may be in an abusive relationship. According to the CDC 2012 violence prevention report, nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner which impacted their ability to function normally.

Why do I attract partners who are abusive and what can I do about it?

The answer to this question is so significant to your happiness, that it is critical for you to understand. There are many factors that play a role in how we choose a mate. For example, did you grow up in an abusive family? Studies show that women who have grown up in families where they have been abused or have witnessed abuse, are more likely to grow up believing that abuse is normal behavior. Women who watch their mothers engage with a partner who uses anger, control or violence to solve problems perceives this relational pattern as acceptable. Women who watched their mothers take orders, or comply with someone out of fear in order to avoid anger soon learn that mother is riddled by self-doubt, insecurity or low self-esteem.

As children, we are like sponges taking in our experiences and making them a part of who we are. Our major caretakers are our special mentors. We depend on them to keep us safe and secure. When this doesn’t happen, we grow up not knowing how to care for ourselves, how to protect ourselves emotionally, and we do not have a “good mommy” inside of us that can help us make decisions and use good judgment about what is or isn’t right for us. There are many more complications if a woman is financially dependent on a man (particularly when there are children involved), or emotionally dependent on a man to provide the self-esteem and self-worth that she so desperately needs. This is where the term “co-dependent” evolves from.

Many women think that two halves make a whole. This may be true when we refer to cutting a piece of fruit, but not when it comes to having our own identities as women! You must have what you need for yourself before joining with someone else. If not, you may make your partner responsible for giving you what you need, when it is you who must look at your own internal unfulfilled needs. You are never responsible for violence. You are responsible for taking the steps to free yourself from abuse of any kind. If you identify with any of these issues then chances are you are struggling in your romantic relationship(s). If you have already been through several failed marriages or relationships where you see the same patterns over and over, then it is time to reach out for help from a trained professional.

I will help you to develop a strong, confident sense of yourself whereby you can stand on your own two feet. When you finally feel strong enough on the inside, you will not tolerate abusive partners who treat you with disrespect and you will not fear leaving partners who cause destruction in your life. Your recovery depends on you seeking the psychotherapy that you need.

Is it too late to change?

 According to the March 2015 AARP Bulletin, 95% of women say it’s important to be open to change no matter what your age. The Domestic Violence Intervention Program in Iowa City states that more than 50% of women leave abusive partners after seeking help. There are many factors unique to women’s lives that play a role in whether she will develop depression. A woman who tolerates abuse in a relationship is more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

The prospect of change can be frightening when having to hold the unknown of the future. Not making a change can mean a life of generational abuse, passed on to a woman’s children, who then repeat the same patterns. Living a life that mostly approximates what you have always wanted for yourself increases your chance of happiness and longevity. Walking through a woman’s therapy with her so that she is not isolated and alone is the key to growth and change. I have walked with many women and I look forward to walking with you.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Help When You Need It Most…Contact Dr Siegel