Al Roker shared his personal weight loss story on the Today Show. He’s lost 115lbs with the help of a gastric bypass. Click here to see the clip. If you have struggled with your weight, you can definitely relate to aspects of his story. He reported struggling with weight since he was a child and trying multiple diets that didn’t work throughout his life. Weight was an issue that impacted his entire family. It wasn’t until the death of his father did he experience an “aha ha” moment that something needed to change with his own health.
Al’s choice to get a gastric bypass was difficult as it is for many people. It comes with risks and it is not a “magic bullet.” He made a very important point that many people don’t realize about gastric bypass. It can help with weight loss but it often doesn’t change your psychological relationship with food. Al noted that any reputable surgeon will recommend psychological counseling to help address the emotional reasons underlying overeating eating—stress eating, soothing yourself with food, your self image, feelings of self worth etc. Approximately 30% regain weight after the surgery.*
Al discovered these psychological issues the hard way. After his surgery, he gradually regained forty pounds. He had to come up with another plan to address the “fat guy” that he continued to see in the mirror despite the weight loss. Intellectually, he said he knew he had lost weight, but he admitted that it has been hard to see himself like others do.
Now, Al indicated that maintaining his weight is a daily challenge that includes a combination of portion control, exercise and knowing his triggers. Essentially, as it is for anyone who is trying to manage their weight, it is learning how to eat more mindfully. He said that if he is going to eat it, it has to be something “spectacular” not just something to mindlessly munch on.
Al is training for the New York Marathon. If you are someone who struggles with your weight and wants to start doing exercise (but hate it!) consider signing up for a walk or run if your health permits. You don’t have to do a marathon. Start training with a charity walk. http://charitymile.com/ or walk a 5K. Having a purpose, like a charity walk or an event, can really help get you motivated.
If you are like Al and are trying to change your life, you might consider consulting with a professional about how to change those tricky psychological and nutritional aspects of your life that may be truly at the heart of the problem.
Training tips if you want to start walking or running:
The Couch-to-5K Running Plan http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml
America on the Move: https://aom3.americaonthemove.org/default.aspx
8 Can’t Miss Boston Marathon Brain Strategies: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-winners-brain/201004/8-can-t-miss-boston-marathon-brain-strategies
Mental Skills for Everyday Athletes: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-mind-rules-your-feet/201001/mental-skills-everyday-athletes
By Dr. Susan Albers, psychologist and author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Eating Mindfully, Mindful Eating 101, Eat, Drink & Be Mindful. www.eatingmindfully.com
*Obes Surg. 2009 Apr;19(4):439-45. Epub 2008 Oct 11. Prediction of long-term outcome after gastric bypass surgery. Lanyon RI, Maxwell BM, Kraft AJ.
Compensatory eating disorder behaviors and gastric bypass surgery outcome. International Journal of Eating Disorders; May 2009, 42(4), 363-366.