As we continue to work through Dr. Phil’s Keys to Weight Loss and keep track of his Ultimate Weight Loss Race, we dig a bit more deeply into the second key. Dr. Phil’s website directs focus using the second key with the following mandate, “Overcome emotional overeating by managing inappropriate reactions to stress; solving problems rather than dwelling on them; changing self-defeating thoughts, since more often than not, feelings follow thoughts; gaining closure on unfinished emotional business; and learning new ways to cope without resorting to food”. Just that statement could be overwhelming with all the difficult things that are included. One issue many have with Dr. Phil is that telling you what to do doesn’t necessarily lead to life change because it leaves you without knowing how to do what he told you to do. So let’s break it down.
“Overcome emotional overeating.” Emotional overeating is using food to help you cope with difficult feelings or situations, or using comfort food or food ‘drugs’ to make you feel better.
“Managing inappropriate reactions to stress.” Food is not the right reaction to stress, but not eating isn’t an appropriate reaction either. The best response to a stressful situation is to utilize relaxation techniques and get yourself to the best state from which to address the issue.
“Solving problems rather than dwelling on them.” There are two important parts to this statement. It does you no good to dwell on a situation that may occur (worry) because it may not. When a negative situation does arise, don’t live there; find what you can do to make the situation better for yourself and do it. At times, you may be able to completely resolve the issue; at other times, you can resolve yourself to survive it.
“Changing self-defeating thoughts, since more often than not, feelings follow thoughts.” To utilize REBT, you need to first become aware of your thoughts and feelings, learn the difference between them, and dispute your irrational thoughts to come to a more helpful truth.
“Gaining closure on unfinished emotional business.” We all have unfinished emotional business to varying degrees, and we are all aware of it to varying degrees as well. None of us have arrived; no one is fully actualized, so we all have room for growth. I believe the concern here is in the extent to which it is interfering with your daily living and adding to your stress. Food and weight can be used to avoid many issues. Dr. Phil is instructing, instead, to face these head on until you can find some peace. At times, this requires the help of a professional coach or therapist. Utilize all resources available to you to discover as much peace as possible.
“Learning new ways to cope.” There are numerous options available to you to help you cope in a way that is helpful and in line with your goals. Common suggestions include seeking support, exercising, journaling, and meditating.