Enlivening Ourselves

Dear Dr. Norquist:
I have been on a diet for a year and half now. It is doctor-supervised (Optifast). I go to a hospital. I have done very well. I was 418 when I started and got down to 296 in about 11 months. Now I have gained back 35 pounds.
I need help in staying on this diet. I work in a hospital on the night shift as a sergeant in the security dept. I am tired all the time. My diet consists of shakes, diet jello, and low sodium soup. That is all. I know I did good when I first went on it but need some advice in getting back into the flow of things. I see many overweight people in the hospital and see what is happening to them and that in itself should push me forward but it doesn’t.
My question to you is what is a good motivation to get me back on this diet and to do good once again.

Dr. Norquist responds:
A balanced approach to life has great benefits. It allows us to utilize more of our resources (emotional, physical & cognitive) in any situation we encounter and any goal that we set in life. Think of it this way: any pendulum, when it is set in motion, swings just as far to the right as it does to the left. I often see this principle evidenced in dieting. It appears that the more extreme the deprivation of the enjoyment of eating the more likely it is that the dieter will eventually swing to the other side (over-eating the foods s/he feels deprived of) as the pendulum tries to move back toward a state of balance. Your diet sounds very depriving. I’m not surprised that you are having a back-swing, so to speak. Perhaps a more balanced, long-term approach to dieting will serve you better in the long run.
You say you are tired all the time. Were you tired all the time in the past when you were working night shift, but you were not on a diet? Are you providing your body and spirit with enough rest? It could be that you are eating more because you crave the energy that the calories provide. Talk with your doctor about your constant tiredness to make sure it is not from a lack of certain nutrients.
It could also be that you are depressed or bored with your life and food is a way of giving yourself some solace. Losing weight will not automatically bring happiness. You may have already discovered that as a result of the 100 lbs. or so that you’ve already lost. Perhaps you discovered that the weight loss didn’t bring the changes (internal as well as external) that you expected, and that may have also contributed to your loss of motivation.
You need to re-discover that “spark” in life. If you are not happy with your work, you are responsible to yourself to do something about it. What have you always wanted to do? See if you can make of your time on Earth an occasion for playing, and for loving all of life. This will help you to get more of your needs met in ways other than eating. I hope this helps.

(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanyacounseling.com or by e-mail at drnorquist@chaitanyacounseling.com. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2018 Chaitanya Counseling Services