“I’ll start on Monday” is the dieter’s excuse for putting off beginning a diet. I call this the Weighting Game. There seems to be more to gain from losing than from gaining. Putting off taking it off is a common behavior. Yet people who want to lose weight seem to be motivated by a strong desire to be healthier and look good.

Most procrastinators are the casualties of their own paralyzing fears, and they don’t know it. Fear of failure, fear of judgment by others, fear of success, fear of punishment by authority and fear of the future are the most common ones. Falling off a diet or losing weight to gain it back are common occurrences.

The columnist Art Buchwald said that the word diet comes from the verb to die because that is how you feel when you are on a diet. Although he was joking, the fear of death is sometimes behind delaying weight loss. Alice had been molested by her father and grew up to be almost six feet tall and weighed two hundred seventy pounds. She prided herself on her strength and boasted that not even her husband could overpower her. During the first week of her diet she raced to the Emergency Room thinking she was having a heart attack. Fortunately it was only a panic attack. But she stopped her diet and couldn’t seem to get back on track. Her hidden fear turned out to be that if she lost weight someone who could hurt her would overwhelm her. Losing weight was too risky.

Vivian also feared death. She was afraid that if she lost weight it would mean she had cancer since many people with cancer lose a lot of weight. Helen’s family was killed in the holocaust, and she was afraid that if another holocaust occurred and she was too thin, she would starve to death in a concentration camp. These fears are hidden in the unconscious mind so people are surprised when they surface.

Another fear that keeps dieters from successfully completing a weight loss regime has to do with sex. Although Carol was happily married she was afraid that if she lost weight she wouldn’t be able to control her sexual appetite and would be unfaithful. Rose was single and feared that if she lost weight she would be able to have an intimate love relationship, but her partner would discover that she was really unlovable and leave her. Rather than find out she kept sabotaging her weight loss attempts.

Jane and Pam were the victims of the fear of displeasing their families. Rather than withstand their fury, both women stayed fat. Jane was terrified that if she became thin she would be prettier than her sister Beth. Everyone in the family acknowledged that Beth was a babe while Jane was the brainy one. If Jane stepped out of her role in the family she unconsciously feared that something terrible would happen to her. Every time Pam visited her family her petite mother would drag her into the bathroom and weigh her to make sure that Pam didn’t weigh less than mom did. Get the message!

Theresa’s husband frequently nagged her to lose weight. He didn’t want to make love to her because she was overweight. She felt unlovable and wanted to please him. She tried and tried, but kept sliding off her eating plan. She would be “good” and then go on horrendous binges and regain all that she lost. She couldn’t seem to reach her goal. When she came face to face with her deepest fear it was that if she got thin she would discover that her husband still didn’t find her attractive!

Eleanor was young, single and bright. But she couldn’t reach her weight goal either. It turned out that her buried fear was that if she were thin she would get married and leave her father’s home. Her father was a widower and had some health problems. Eleanor felt guilty that if she left him something bad would befall him and it would be her fault.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That is what the weighting game is all about. If you wait long enough you will put off losing weight. All the excuses dieters make really hide an unconscious fear that something awful will happen if they succeed. Yet, usually, when brought to light, the irrational fear can be confronted and dissolved. Read my books, A Substance Called Food, Five Simple Steps to Emotional Healing, and Freedom At Your Fingertips to find out how.

Author's Bio: 

Gloria Arenson, MS, MFT, D.CEP specializes in using EFT to treat stress, anxiety, trauma, depression, phobias, and compulsions. Her extensive knowledge of eating disorders and compulsive behaviors led her to write How to Stop Playing the Weighting Game, A Substance Called Food, Born To Spend, the award winning Five Simple Steps to Emotional Healing, and co-author Freedom At Your Fingertips. She is Past President of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP).