By Paul Bolger, MD, Medical Aesthetics and Wellness Center of the Quad Cities
I have always believed that humans, especially women, have a very powerful intuition and sense of right versus wrong. It is built into our survival mechanism. How have we learned to survive over thousands of years without developing “gut feelings” of right from wrong or safe from not safe? The same applies to one’s conscience. We all have a conscience. It starts off very strong, and, like your intuition, if you listen it will guide you. The more one listens to one’s intuition and conscience, the stronger they become and the more they will guide you.
If one ignores his or her intuition and his or her conscience, two things happen to you. Over years they will stop speaking to you. The less you listen, the less loudly they will speak, and as their voices fade so do your internal guides. Secondly it has a negative impact on your self-esteem because you are going against what your own heart is telling you to do. It gives you an internal sense of guilt that weakens over time but never completely fades. As you ignore them, the voices of conscience and intuition start to fade, but fortunately for most people they never go away completely.
How does this apply to weight loss and wellness?
Almost every patient needs education regarding food choices and principles of nutrition and diet. However, when you consider the basics, most patients have a general sense of what they should and should not be eating or drinking, and whether they are overeating or not. They are not listening to the internal voice that is trying to guide them. I have many patients who say “honestly doctor, I don’t know what I am doing wrong!” But after gentle conversation, they often come up with the reason themselves, and many times don’t even realize what they said.
I haven’t been listening for years, how do I start again?
Listening is a skill that is developed over time. Learning to listen to your intuition and your conscience is a practice that is developed over a lifetime; it is not something that can be turned on and off. What I advise patients to do when they have stopped listening and they want to start again is to take baby steps. The first step is just to start to recognize when your inner voice is talking to you. “Don’t eat that!” “You are full, stop eating!” “Don’t stop at that fast food restaurant!” My personal favorite, “You are only going to Hardee’s for a burger because you forgot to eat a high protein snack between meals!”
Hearing the inner voice is the first step. Now doing what the inner voice is telling one to do is when the hard work starts. That is where the rubber meets the road. That takes discipline. Many people give up on discipline and do not believe that they have any. What many of my patients do not realize is that discipline is not something that they have or do not have; it is something that one builds and practices. You start by acting on one item that takes discipline one day and build on that. You build up your discipline muscle until you start to believe in yourself that you actually do have discipline. Once you believe that you do, it transforms your life.
Applying this to my practice, I cannot drastically cut the calories of every patient that comes to see me. Some patients come to my door and say right up front that their problem is self-discipline. They have stopped listening and stopped having any discipline. If I were to give them a goal that is likely unachievable for them then they will fail. One month later when they see me again, not only will they have not lost any weight, but also I will have done damage to their spirit.
A more mindful approach would be to give those patients smaller, more achievable goals to help build their listening skills and discipline muscle. With a series of small personal accomplishments come great gains and enormous personal victories. The patient then not only shrinks in size but also grows in spirit.
Are you struggling with your weight loss and need a more comprehensive plan? Contact Dr. Bolger at 563-355-4813 to schedule an appointment, or visit his website, weightlossquadcities.com, so you can get your weight loss under control. Medical Aesthetics and Wellness Center of the Quad Cities is located at 5510 Utica Ridge Rd, Ste 300, Davenport, IA, and specialize in weight loss, non-surgical body contouring, dermal fillers, and Botox.
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