Calif. — When Anne Miranda goes shopping for new clothes,
she has to remind herself not to reach for a size 16.
slim size 6, Miranda said she still sees herself "as a
fat person" despite losing nearly 75 pounds three years
ago. Adjusting to her new figure has been difficult at times,
she said. So has keeping off the weight.
was like Christmas every morning, putting on clothes and
having them fit or even be too big," she said of the
period following her drop in weight. "I don’t want to
go back to where I was."
57, traveled from her Folsom, Calif., home to midtown’s
Fleet Feet running store last Tuesday night to listen to local
therapist Armando Gonzalez give a talk about the psychological
impact of drastic weight loss.
who offers weight-loss counseling under the name Dr. Mondo,
spoke just weeks after the release of new research about NBC
reality show "The Biggest Loser" revealing that the
majority of contestants who shed serious pounds during the
program gained most or all of it back after returning home. A
New York Times article on the finding has caused outcry among
viewers, leaving many weight loss hopefuls to wonder if they’re
fighting a losing battle.
was not part of the recent study, but he conducted his own
research on "Biggest Loser" contestants while
writing his graduate dissertation in 2009. He conducted
interviews with "Biggest Loser" participants and
found that about 50 percent of people kept the weight off,
while the other 50 percent gain it back.
the new study focuses on the physiological factors that follow
drastic weight loss and make maintenance difficult, such as
sluggish metabolisms and low levels of leptin (a hormone that
makes people feel full), Gonzalez’s dissertation and his
work since have revolved around the psychological struggles of
people who experience the "yo-yo effect" of weight
this week from the American Medical Association found that 38
percent of American adults were obese as of 2014, up from 34
percent in 2006.
course we’re struggling to maintain our weight, because we’re
only treating a symptom of this experience," Gonzalez
said. "Teaching someone how to eat and teaching them how
to exercise, the calories in/calories out equation, don’t
get me wrong — that matters. … But in order to keep the
weight off for good, you’ve got to get to the root of your
struggle with food."
current weight-loss conversation in America is too much about
self-control and not enough about motivation, he said. While
someone might be able to train themselves to cut out junk food
to reach an end goal, those habits won’t stick once that
goal is achieved unless they make a real change to the way
they view that particular vice, he said.
speaks often about his own weight-loss journey and how he has
historically turned to food in times of stress and loneliness.
After years of being the "funny fat guy," he became
determined to get in shape but constantly battled weight
fluctuation. He gained and lost 75 to 100 pounds more than a
half-dozen times during the course of a decade, he said,
before getting to the mental root of his problem.
not just because I like cheeseburgers," he said.
"There’s a deeper relationship that I have cultivated
over time with that food, and understanding that is going to
be the key to making different choices, and the key to me
finding self-care in new areas separate from food."
addition to his private therapy practice in midtown, Gonzalez
offers a self-designed online program called Roadmap to Weight
Loss, which breaks the weight loss process down into eight
stages. The program’s eight modules guide clients through
each step of weight loss, from finding an "anchor for
change" or motivation to get healthy, to "rewriting
your story" or coming to terms with a new identity after
the pounds drop.
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Feet Sacramento invited the therapist to promote his program
because it pairs so well with the store’s eight-week No
Boundaries beginner running group, which began Saturday, said
Amy Rihel, director of training programs.
see a lot of people who walk through the door just to lose
weight," she said. "But running isn’t a quick fix.
It’s not the only thing. … We’re really excited for this
partnership and to see it blossom and grow."
said bringing psychological support to Sacramento
organizations that help people lose weight is one of his main
goals going forward. Too often, he said, trainers know how to
help clients shed pounds but are not equipped to prepare them
emotionally for what happens next.
weight should be viewed as a drastic life change, akin to
getting divorced or having a child, Gonzalez said. He found in
his "Biggest Loser" interviews that people who lose
large amounts of weight in a short period experience a lot of
stress around their new identities. They might start receiving
attention from potential romantic interests or be treated
differently by their partners or even strangers on the street,
he said. All of those changes, if not handled with care, can
cause people to revert to their old habits as a way of coping.
have confetti and streamers, like on ‘The Biggest Loser,’
come down from the ceiling when you lose weight and we think,
OK, great, see you later," he said. "But the reality
is there’s more than meets the eye from that transition. And
there’s a problem with us not viewing weight loss as a life