Addiction transference: It’s not the food. It’s the issues behind the food.

1-800-GET-THIN Billboard. Image source:

Last week, I caught a local (southern California) morning TV news story about a forty-something woman who had gotten the lap-band weight loss surgery. She thought that getting thin would make her happy. She believed their marketing slogan, “Let your new life begin. Call 1-800-GET-THIN!” She lost over 100 pounds, but found herself as unhappy as she was when she was heavy and became addicted to meth. What? That’s crazy!  Maybe not. The commentator said it was an issue of “addiction transference.”

Addiction transference? Interesting. The news piece stuck in my head for several days. Whether a person loses weight because of surgery or via diet and exercise, it’s the same cautionary tale:

  • Being thin isn’t going to magically make you happy and solve all your problems.
  • Discarding the fat suit doesn’t magically transform you into a completely new person.
  • You can’t run away from yourself by changing your appearance.
  • All the crap inside you that made you fat in the first place? It’ll still be there when you’re thin if you don’t deal with it.

I scoured the TV station’s website to find a link to the story to share, to no avail. I did find an extremely interesting article on the lap-band website: Addiction Transference and Lap-Band Surgery:  It’s easy to trade another addiction for your food addiction.

I had two observations after reading the article.

  1. I was glad that the company acknowledged that addiction transference is a possible issue for their patients. Hopefully they make the patient aware of it ahead of time and take proactive steps to prepare for it.
  2. I was annoyed that the article emphasized the physiological reasons for addiction rather than the emotional ones. Here are a couple of examples.

“The first theory that has been initially proposed is the idea that patients develop addiction transference in order to fill the “void” that is no longer there because of their treated obesity. However, as more research begins to take shape scientists and psychologists alike have found support for the theory that the major addictive pathway in the brain that is responsible for alcohol and cocaine dependency is also responsible for obesity problems… In addition, researchers have suggested that obesity essentially acts as a cover or type of prevention for other major addictions such as those to alcohol, gambling, or even cocaine.”

“Treating obesity through a weight loss surgery does not necessarily mean that one would experience a compulsive disorder or other type of addiction. It simply means that obesity surgeries essentially uncover another type of problem that may be going on in the brain, such as an abnormal level of dopamine that has been found in those patients that do develop addiction transference.”

The article made addiction transference sound rare. According to the site, “the American Society for Bariatric Surgery estimates that only about 5% of individuals develop this problem. On the other hand, U.S. Bariatric, a major weight loss surgery center in Florida, puts the number at 20% or above.”

Consider the source: I’m reading an article provided by the providers of lap-band surgery. Of course they’re going to want to blame addiction on something physical in your brain. God forbid they should hold a person accountable for their emotional issues and choices. That’s not what they’re selling.

To be fair, I must add that the article concludes by saying that if someone is at risk, the patient should seek extensive counseling and possible medication to treat addiction transference.

While writing this post, I was playing Words with Friends on Facebook with my husband. This ad popped up. It makes Jennifer Hudson sound so healthy emotionally, like she is comfortable in her body, no matter what size she is. I hope it is true for her!

When I started my weight loss journey, I considered lap-band surgery for about two seconds. I know it’s helped a lot of people, but there’s just something about it that bothers me. I know I need to fundamentally change myself inside and that can’t be achieved by having a superficial surgical procedure. I know I need to change my habits, deeply ingrained in me for over forty years and it feels like cheating to take the short cut. I know it won’t solve the real problems of why I got fat in the first place. There is no quick fix for that. No way.

So I press on… 🙂

P.S. And let’s not forget that one “side effect” of lap-band surgery is Death. There’s that. In looking for a photo for this post, I found Curvy Nerd‘s: In the News: 1-800-Get-Thin woman dies after lap band surgery. Her concluding statement was startling, but true:

“This is what we do to people — they are willing to risk death in order to be ‘skinny.'”

A happy indication of true change.

Scrabble with my Dad and sisters. Note the absence of junk food on the table. 🙂

Hello blog buddies. It has been about three weeks since my last post. Sounds like I’m making a confession! Rest assured, the absence of blog posts does not indicate a lack in my commitment to keep pressing forward on this journey.

Sick no more
Like most of you, life is just crazy busy. I had a third bout of the cold/flu after writing my last post. I finally went to the doctor when my throat hurt so bad I couldn’t swallow. My eyes turned pink and a bunch of gunky nasty stuff started oozing out. Sorry to be gross, but it seriously freaked me out. Went to the doc the next day and he prescribed eye drops and a five day course of antibiotics. He advised OTC pain meds for my throat such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Who’da thunk you need pain meds for a silly cold (other than for sinus headache, which I didn’t have)? He said the virus was causing the nastiness in my eyes. About a day later, my eyes cleared. About three days later, I was feeling pretty groovy. Now I’m back to 100% health. Oh, it feels good to feel good.

A happy indication of true change in traditional family eating habits
I visited my family in Oregon last weekend. It was a surprise trip – my sister “R” needed some help on an important project: Her mother-in-law passed away in early December, and her husband requested my graphic design skills to help put a memorial slideshow together. She and her husband’s family flew me the thousand miles up north to finalize the project for the memorial gathering that took place yesterday. (R let me know that everyone loved the show. It’s such a great feeling to help a family in this way as they both grieve the loss and celebrate the life of their Mom.)

My thinking, headed up to Oregon, is – don’t worry about the diet this weekend. I’ll be with family. We like to eat when we all get together; all moderation is usually thrown out the window. We like our popcorn, M&M’s, red and black licorice, chocolate, etc.

R and I stayed at our sister T’s house to work on the project; our fourth sister wasn’t able to join us. T and her husband are very conscious about taking care of themselves, so there was no junk food in the house. R started Weight Watchers a couple months ago and she’s making fantastic progress; she’s dropped over 20 lbs. She’s got me seriously considering changing from Lindora to WW. I’m ready for lots more variety and choices so I can stay in this for the long haul.

Perhaps it was because we were so busy all weekend on this project. Perhaps it was the fact that we are all actively working on losing or maintaining our weight. But we did not pig out once. We ate our protein bars when we got hungry between meals. It was funny when we each pulled out our favorite bars and compared labels. T pulled out her nut and dried fruit snacks. She also made us fresh carrot and apple juice using the juice machine that she gave her husband for Christmas. Sweet ambrosia!

SodaStream® Fizz Home Soda Maker. Photo from

T had also recently purchased a soda maker as she and her husband really like sparkling water. She made us a drink and added just a bit of berry flavoring. It was about 40 calories for 8 oz. So good – it reminded me of those New York Seltzers or Crystal Geysers my Mom used to buy back in the 80s and 90s. T got it at BevMo for about $100. The only maintenance cost is the carbonation canister — it’s about $30 to replace. It comes with four large bottles that maintain carbonation for about four days. She keeps the canisters in the fridge full of water so that when she makes the soda, it’s already cold. I love diet soda. I want one! No cans or bottles to recycle. No lugging sodas from the grocery store to car to house. Less clutter and better for the environment. It’s on my wish list. 🙂

We spent an evening with our Dad and brother playing Scrabble, our traditional family favorite, after eating T’s homemade chili with Ritz crackers. We went to church with Dad the next day, then went out for lunch. T and I split a garden omelet plate at IHOP. That evening for dinner, R and I split a chicken dinner plate. In both cases, splitting provided plenty of food and we were each satisfied but not stuffed.

Bottom line? My sisters and I have acquired much healthier eating habits. I was ready to toss it out the window temporarily for the weekend, but they broke the pattern. Getting together no longer equals a free-for-all when it comes to food. And our time together didn’t suffer; in fact, it was better than ever.

R and I finished the weekend at the airport waiting for my flight by enjoying Coffee People mochas and scones—for lunch. A perfect sweet end to a productive and bonding weekend.

As I flew home, I kept thinking about how good I felt… to have finished a major project, to have no regrets over the food I ate or the words I said, to have just enjoyed my sisters—as well as seeing my Dad and one of my brothers. It’s good to connect with the people you love. Must visit more often. 🙂

Undeserved weight maintenance. Again.

My husband and I had a kicka** session at the gym today—after having seven days off. It felt so good to MOVE, to get the blood flowing, to use my muscles, especially after feeling so awful last week.  We were completely exhausted afterwards—but it was that kind of tired that feels so good and relaxing.

Before working out, I weighed myself on the scale in the locker room: 189 lbs. The gym scale has always registered my weight at one pound higher than the scale at the Lindora clinic; thus, I have not gained any weight. I have not gained any weight!!! (From now on I’ll be using the gym scale as my primary, official gauge, even though it’s a pound higher.)

It is, once again, undeserved weight maintenance as I’ve been off program for about three weeks.  Except for last week, we’ve continued going to the gym, which I’m certain has helped offset the extra food I’ve been eating.

Mind you, my jeans are tighter, so I know I must have gained fat and lost muscle, but I’m still totally tripping out that I didn’t pack on 5-10 lbs. That’s what I expected.

This hasn’t been my usual gorgefest that is Christmastime. I haven’t gone all out crazy, but I have imbibed. Oh yes, I have. Tamales. Tacos. Spanish rice. Refried beans. Chocolate chip cookies. Popcorn with butter and parmesan. Barbecue ribs, mashed potatoes and buttery bread. But not every day. I’ve also eaten lots of soup, salad/veggies, fruit, yogurt.  The only thing I can figure is I’ve been much more aware of what I’m doing. I haven’t just mindlessly porked out.

I have enjoyed eating off-program food guilt-free, knowing I’m taking a break from the diet, knowing I’ll get back on track soon.

Because if you’re not going to enjoy it, then what’s the point?

So… I’m on a total high, knowing I don’t have too much damage to repair as I refocus my eating and exercise efforts toward my goal.

By the way, I love the new Weight Watchers commercial where Jennifer Hudson’s old and new self are singing “Believe.” Fun to imagine the former old me and the future new me standing right next to each other. I’m standing here beside myself…

Weight Watchers – Jennifer Hudson: I believe in you and me

Why I chose Lindora to lose weight.

Is this true or what???? : ) I recently discovered where I found this and many other inspirational images and quotes... check it out.

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday has passed, I’m working on getting my focus back on my weight loss goals and remembering why I chose Lindora to help me succeed.

The most important thing about choosing a weight loss plan is finding what works for you. There are so many options out there—some totally stupid and crazy, some healthy, some much more effective than others. Here’s what attracted me to Lindora.

Lindora works. I chose Lindora because, in my experience, it’s the only program where I’ve been able to lose a significant amount of weight. When you carefully follow the guidelines, it really works. You will drop the pounds. A + B = C.  It’s a no brainer. It’s not easy, but you can have the confidence that you will get results if you follow the rules.

Lindora is simple. Lindora provides a list of authorized foods that reflect a “low fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate nutritional plan.” The boundaries of a limited food list are extremely helpful to me. I get overwhelmed with too many choices. The list is posted on my fridge. You can’t go wrong with fruits, vegetables and protein.

Lindora recommends exercise that is doable and sustainable. I like that Lindora doesn’t push strenuous exercise. They simply exhort you to “move more.” And that means lots of walking. When I lost 60 pounds back in 2002, I walked almost every morning for 30-45 minutes.  This time around, I’m working on getting stronger and being much more fit with lots of cardio and weight lifting. I also want to have more muscle to increase my metabolism. Muscles are so productive. I love that they are burning fat even when I’m not using them.

Lindora provides accountability. When you purchase the 12-week program, you go into the clinic every single day to report what you’ve eaten the day before, receive a B-12 shot, and weigh in. I recommend this program for any first-timers. It’s pretty costly (I spent about $1,200 in 2002), but if you’re someone who has tried many, many times to lose weight, it’s worth every penny. The daily accountability forces you to change your habits.

I completed the 12-week program back in 2002. I lost 60 pounds. But then I got completely off track after injuring my lower back. I couldn’t exercise, and for some bizarre reason, I started eating like I used to. Soon after that, we became parents to our 11-year-old nephew. Life turned completely upside down for the next 8 years. I’m not blaming my weight gain on a child. His arrival into our lives was, however, a mitigating factor as I slid back into my old habits. I gained all the weight back, plus another 20 pounds.

This time around I purchased the 4-week program. I know how to do Lindora; I just needed a kick-start and a month’s worth of accountability. Isn’t it crazy how we all know exactly how to lose weight? We just have to DO IT.

Lindora preaches lifelong change. Indeed, the guidebook is called “Lean for Life.” It’s not just a diet; it’s a transformation. It’s about rewiring your brain, creating new patterns and adopting new habits.

“With Lean for Life, the focus is on learning to become lean. The process of learning creates new neural connections within your brain. These new connections create actual structural changes in your brain. With reinforcement (practice), the changes (connections) can become permanent, and before long, you’ll find that making healthy choices about what you eat seems like second nature. And it will be! Your process for decision making will have been permanently changed.”

Just because I lost the weight and gained it all back ten years ago is no reflection of the viability of the Lindora program. I didn’t stick with the program. I didn’t follow their Lifetime Maintenance guidelines. If I had, I would have arrived and stayed at my goal weight all these years.

Here are some other weight loss programs I’ve tried in the past:

NutriSystem – I joined this program with my mom way back in 1989, the summer before my junior year of college. That’s when they used to have clinics; now they just sell the food online. I lost weight that summer, but it was extremely expensive. I was spending $70 to $80 per week on freeze dried, cardboard food. It was kinda fun, though, to go back to school about 15 pounds lighter. Gained it all back in a few months though!

Weight Watchers – I’ve joined WW several times over the years and could never stick with it.  It is too lenient. There are too many choices. Too much moderation.  I kept using all my points up before dinner.  The most I ever lost with WW was about 8-10 pounds.

SlimFast – Even though it was convenient and relatively inexpensive, constant hunger made this a short-lived diet. Shakes are not food. The most weight I lost? Probably 2-3 pounds before I gave up.

Herbalife – Who doesn’t like drinking fruit shakes for each meal? I liked them very much. But again, I was hungry all the time. And the supplements were just way too expensive. I lost about 2-3 pounds before giving up.

Why did you choose your particular method for losing weight?