Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Life Coaching Lezione #3: Sii co-creatore piuttosto che osservatore passivo della tua vita


Life Coaching Lezione #3:

Sii co-creatore piuttosto che osservatore passivo della tua vita


Dott.ssa Maria Teresa De Donato, Life Strategist



“Qualunque cosa la mente è in grado di concepire e credere puó anche realizzare.”

(Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice)




            “Vorrei aver fatto…”, “Ho sempre desiderato…”, “Se solo i miei genitori avessero…”, “Se solo potessi…”, “Se lo/a avessi sposato/a…avrei avuto...”

            Quanti di questi pensieri, dichiarazioni e lamentele hai sentito sino ad ora nella tua vita?  E quante tra queste hai usato tu stesso/a?  Naturalmente queste sono solo domande retoriche cui ciascuno di noi dovrebbe rispondere individualmente.  Tuttavia, più onesto/a sarai nel rispondere, più comprenderai ed accetterai il fatto che tutte queste affermazioni hanno un comune denominatore: l’attitudine di chi le pronuncia ad assumere il ruolo della vittima.

            Sì, è vero: nella tua vita non puoi avere il controllo su ogni singola cosa, persona e circostanza dal momento che eventi inaspettati ed imprevedibili possono accadere, come infatti accadono, nè puoi avere il controllo sul tipo di genitori che ti hanno messo/a al mondo, cosicchè tutti coloro che sono nati in famiglie disfunzionali – e personalmente ho conosciuto molta poca gente che no lo è – non sono, infatti, responsabili di ció.  Tu, comunque, potresti aver raggiunto un’etá, al momento, in cui continuare a lamentarti del passato e di ció che ti è mancato o ti è stato o non stato fatto è del tutto inutile.  Continuare a lamentarti e a pentirti di ció è solo una trappola che non porta in nessun posto, ma che ti tiene impantanato/a – consapevolmente o inconsapevolmente – nella convinzione che sei senza speranza, condannato/a a ‘rimanere’ dove ti trovi e che nessun cambiamento è possibile.  Di conseguenza tu diventi prigioniero dei tuoi stessi pensieri e delle tue percezioni ed ‘agisci’ come un osservatore passivo della tua propria esistenza.  Ti vedi solo in relazione ad un ruolo da recitare, quello di madre, padre, figlio, figlia, impiegato/a o qualunque esso sia…giorno dopo giorno.

            Sei dunque un robot, una macchina programmata per fare o non fare determinate cose, mentre il tempo passa e tu perdi totalmente il contatto con il te stesso/a.  Sei talmente perso/a che non hai più neanche il tempo di “sentire il profumo delle rose”, tantomeno quello di ammirare la bellezza di un’alba o di un tramonto.  Tiri i remi in barca per ció che riguarda te stesso e la vita che potresti e dovresti avere per poter esprimere appieno il tuo potenziale e godere del successo e della felicitá che meriti, tenendo conto dei tuoi bisogni intellettuali, psicologici, spirituali, emotivi e fisici, i tuoi desideri, le tue passioni ed i tuoi talenti.  Percepisci te stesso come qualcuno che non ha alcun tipo di controllo su alcuna cosa e ti senti alla mercè di chiunque o qualunque cosa si presenti nella tua vita.  Questa sensazione ti priva della gioia di vivere; ti vedi prevalentemente, se non esclusivamente, come una vittima; qualunque cosa tu faccia, la fai perché senti di doverla fare, mentre tutto ció che ti permetterebbe di essere ció che realmente sei non viene neanche considerato.  Cerchi un lavoro e ne accetti uno solo per guadagnarti di che vivere e pagare le bollette, non per vivere i tuoi sogni, inseguire le tue passioni ed adempiere la tua chiamata.

            Piuttosto interessante è il fatto che, molto spesso, essere osservatore della propria vita ha molto poco a che fare con gli altri, ma molto a che vedere con noi stessi, con l’assumerci, o il non assumerci, le nostre responsabilitá e nell’iniziare ad agire in maniera costruttiva verso i nostri traguardi, cominciando con il diventare consapevoli del modo errato e malsano in cui abbiamo continuato a pensare e a percepire la realtá e con l’edificare la fiducia in noi stessi e la nostra autostima.

            Devi assumerti le tue responsabilitá per il successo o il fallimento della tua vita: questo implica crescere e maturare, non necessariamente in senso fisico, poiché è molto probabile che tu abbia giá raggiunto l’etá adulta, ma spiritualmente, emotivamente ed intellettualmente.  Questa è l’unica possibilitá che hai di progredire nella tua vita e di diventare sempre più una persona di successo, facendo un passo alla volta, consapevole che nel far ció tu sai dove inizi, ma non dove potresti arrivare poiché “il cielo è il limite.”

            Perció, qualunque sia stato per te motivo di lamentela o di pentimento per cose fatte o non fatte, fa’ tutto il possibile per iniziare ad avere un approccio positivo e a focalizzarti su cosa fare e come girare pagina per cominciare a costruire la vita che desideri.

Maria Teresa De Donato©2013-2015. All Rights Reserved



Per saperne di più sulla mia attività di Consulente Olistico della Salute e Coach, sui miei servizi e prodotti potete visitare i seguenti siti:








Life Coaching Lesson #3: Be a Co-Creator Rather Than a Passive Observer of Your Life


Life Coaching Lesson #3:

Be a Co-Creator Rather Than a Passive Observer of Your Life

by

Maria Teresa De Donato, PhD, Life Strategist


“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” 

(Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice)



“I wish I had done…”, “I always wanted to…”, “If only my parents had…”, “I wish I could…”, “Had I married [or not married] him/her…I would have….”

            How many of these thoughts, statements and complaints have you heard so far in your life?  And how many of them have you used yourself?  These are, of course, only rhetorical questions each one of us ought to answer individually.  The more honest you are in answering, however, the more you will understand and accept the fact that all of them have a common denominator: the speaker’s tendency to play the victim game.

            Yes, it’s true: you cannot have control over every single thing, person, and circumstance in your life, for unforeseen and unpredictable events can and do occur, nor have you control over which parents you were born to, so that all people born in dysfunctional families – and I personally have known so far very few who aren’t – are not, in fact, responsible for it.  You, however, might have reached an age by now where keeping complaining about the past and what you missed or was done or not done to you is no longer an option.  Keeping complaining and regretting is rather a catch-22 that leads to nowhere and keeps you trapped – consciously or unconsciously – in the belief that you are hopeless, condemned to ‘stay’ where you are and that no changes are possible.  Consequently, you become prisoner of your own thoughts and perception and ‘act’ as a passive observer of your own existence.  You see yourself only in term of a role to be played, that of a mother, father, daughter, son, employee or whatever that might be…day in…day out.

            You are now a robot, a machine programmed to do, or not to do, certain things while time goes by and you lose completely touch with your Self.  You are so lost, in fact, that you have no time to ‘smell the roses’, let alone to contemplate the beauty of the sun rise or the sun down.  You give up on yourself, on life as it could and should be for you to be able to fully express your potential and enjoy the success and happiness you deserve according to your intellectual, psychological, spiritual, emotional and physical needs, desires, passions and talents. You perceive yourself as having no control whatsoever over anything and feel at the mercy of whomever and whatever comes in your life.  This sensation deprives you from the joy of living.  You see yourself primarily, when not only, as a victim.  You do what you do because you have to, while all that is meant to make you who you truly are is not even taken into account.  You look for a job and then get a job just to make a living and pay the bills not to live your dream, follow your passion and fulfill your calling.

            Interestingly enough, being an observer of one’s own life, more often than not, has very little to do with others and very much to do with ourselves, with taking, or not taking, responsibility and starting acting constructively towards a certain goal, beginning with transforming ourselves by becoming aware of the incorrect, unhealthy way we might have been thinking and perceiving reality so far and with building up our self-esteem and our sense of self-worth.

            You need to take responsibility for your own success or failure in your life: this implies to grow up and mature, not necessarily in a physical sense, for you might have most likely already reached adulthood by now, but spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.  This is the only option you have to advance in life and become more and more successful, move forward, one step at the time, and be aware that in so doing you know where you start but you don’t know where you might end up for “the sky is the limit.”

            That said, whatever you might have being complaining about or regretting of having or not having done so far, do your very best to switch to a positive approach and start focusing on planning what to do next and how you can turn page and begin building the life you want.


Maria Teresa De Donato©2013-2015. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Life Coaching Lezione #2: Smettila di paragonarti agli altri ed abbraccia chi realmente sei


  Life Coaching Lezione #2:
Smettila di paragonarti agli altri ed abbraccia chi realmente sei




Dott.ssa Maria Teresa De Donato, Life Strategist


“L’istruzione dovrebbe inculcare in noi tutti l’idea che l"Umanità è una sola famiglia con comuni interessi. E di conseguenza che la cooperazione è più importante della competizione.”
(Bertrand Russell)


            Molti di noi concorderanno che il paragonarsi agli altri è qualcosa che avviene più spesso di quanto non lo si desideri.  E questo sin dalla più tenera età: coloro che hanno dubbi al riguardo e non hanno figli o nipoti da poter osservare e che possano far cambiare loro idea in materia sono invitati ad andare a visitare un asilo nido e a sedersi per un po’ nella stanza dei bambini di età compresa tra i 12 ed i 24 mesi.
           
            Si tratterà solo di aspettare un po’, ma prima o poi uno di loro guarderà il giocattolo con cui ha giocato per un po’, per qualche minuto o anche solo per pochi secondi, deciderà che quello con cui il/la bambino/a accanto a lui/lei sta giocando è più bello, più interessante, o semplicemente più colorato, glielo strapperà dalle mani e – qualora lo reputasse necessario – gli/le darà una spinta nel caso l’altro/a non sembrasse convinto/a a lasciarglielo più o meno spontaneamente o a riconoscere chi avrà il comando del gioco da quel momento in poi, e se ne impossesserà.

            Sì, lo so, starete pensando che i bambini di quell’età, e quelli piccoli in genere, hanno problemi di questo tipo poiché  non hanno ancora imparato ed assimilato concetti fondamentali quali quelli relativi alla proprietà ed al possesso.  Ed avete assolutamente ragione.  Allo stesso tempo, però, senza averlo notato e senza esservene resi conto potreste aver mantenuto voi stessi per tutta la vita tale attitudine negativa di confrontarvi con gli altri.  Come?  Facciamo qualche esempio prendendo in considerazione sia uomini sia donne.

            Iniziamo con il chiarire una cosa: la tendenza, o dovremmo piuttosto dire, l’abitudine ed attitudine malsane, di paragonarci agli altri non ha nulla a che vedere con l’altro/a – chiunque esso/a sia – ma tutto a che vedere con noi stessi, con la nostra insicurezza, la scarsa stima di noi stessi ed il nostro timore.  Tutti questi fattori sono, infatti, la causa principale di gelosia ed inviadia e ci portano a vedere che “l’erba del vicino è sempre la più verde.”

            A mio avviso e stando a ciò che ho personalmente osservato e compreso nel corso di vari decenni, attraverso l’esperienza sia diretta sia indiretta, esistono delle differenze tra i sessi opposti e che vedono le donne sicuramente detentrici del primato.  Gli uomini, infatti, benché anch’essi possano cadere nella trappola di confrontarsi con altri, generalmente hanno un’area di azione molto più limitata, ossia hanno la tendenza a paragonarsi a qualcun altro e ad entrarvi in competizione e, di conseguenza ad esserne invidiosi o gelosi per pochi motivi, nella maggioranza dei casi legati allo stato sociale e alle risorse finanziarie.  Gli uomini, quindi, hanno problemi e manifestano apertamente la loro attitudine competitiva o boicottano in maniera più subdola l’altro per ragioni quali una posizione professionale più elevata detenuta da un collega, per una promozione – meritata o meno – ed il conseguente aumento di retribuzione che essa comporta, per la possibilità che l’altro ha di acquistare una casa, una macchina, o una moto più grande o più bella e, a volte, per qualcuno che ha sposato, si è fidanzato o semplicemente ha una relazione con un/a partner più bello/a o semplicemente più intelligente del/la proprio/a.  Questa stessa attitudine competitiva a volte può estendersi al settore ‘figli’, così che coloro che sono padri finiscono con il fare paragoni tra i possedimenti materiali che i loro figli hanno o non hanno rispetto a quelli che hanno i figli degli altri, cosa che ha anch’essa a che vedere con ciò che essi, in quanto genitori, possono permettersi o meno e, di conseguenza, offrire o non offrire ai propri figli, e l'abilità e volontà dei loro figli di ottenere voti alti a scuola e persino di frequentare l'università, con entrambi gli aspetti sempre legati alla possibilità di avere un futuro migliore di quanto non l’abbiano avuto essi stessi come genitori.  Ancora una volta, perciò, la maggior parte dei motivi, se non addirittura gli unici, che inducono gli uomini a competere tra loro sembrano riferirsi al proprio stato sociale e alla propria possibilità finanziaria.

            Le donne, al contrario, dotate come sono di una fantasia ed un’immaginazione di gran lunga maggiori di quelle degli uomini, riescono ad essere molto più creative anche per ciò che riguarda la lista, praticamente infinita, di categorie di motivi che possono indurle a fare paragoni e, di conseguenza, ad esprimere in un modo o nell’altro, la propria competitività.  Quest’ultima, infatti, benché a volte non chiaramente e verbalmente espressa, può essere anche molto più evidente di quanto non lo consentano le parole attraverso l’uso del silenzio.  Molte volte, infatti, piuttosto che esprimere la propria invidia e/o gelosia verso l’altro soggetto femminile, quella che per natura è competitiva, o lo è in misura maggiore – poiché non tutte lo sono o lo sono allo stesso livello – manifesta i suoi veri sentimenti ignorando completamente l’altra.  Altre volte, invece, quando questi sentimenti vengono espressi apertamente essi prendono la forma di dichiarazioni e commenti dispregiativi e/o denigratori.  Perciò, in linea generale, nel mondo femminile quasi ogni cosa può far scattare la competizione in una donna: da chi era la più brava a scuola, a chi ha il colore più bello degli occhi, le scarpe più alte, il makeup migliore, il colore-la forma-lo stile di capelli più alla moda, la casa più pulita, e così via all’infinito.

            Sebbene la competizione sembri generalmente aver luogo tra persone dello stesso sesso, di tanto in tanto accade anche tra persone di sesso opposto.  Stando a quanto da me osservato, questo succede per una o più delle seguenti ragioni, ossia quando un uomo e una donna concorrono per la stessa  posizione ed il conseguente avanzamento di carriera, con l’uomo che – a prescindere dall’attitudine femminile – ha generalmente difficoltà a riconoscere la donna come suo capo e/o ad accettare il fatto che questa possa avere un livello di istruzione superiore al suo, che sia più intelligente o che abbia semplicemente una personalità più sicura, determinata o persino dominante.  In questo caso, infatti, oltre a problemi di personalità potrebbero esserci anche delle ragioni storiche che affondano le radici nella notte dei tempi e sono radicate in quasi tutte le culture.  Mi riferisco al fatto che quasi tutte le civiltà, fatta eccezione di quelle fondate sul matriarcato, hanno insegnato che è l’uomo ad essere il capo, al comando della famiglia, della comunità, della nazione e che, perciò, è lui a dover provvedere, soprattutto finanziariamente parlando, ai bisogni di coloro che ama.  Gli uomini vengono educati con questa convizione e, quindi, quando si trovano in una situazione che dimostra che ciò che è stato loro insegnato non è sempre vero si sentono a disagio, insicuri, tutto il loro mondo viene scosso.  Malgrado ciò, tuttavia, in anni recenti molte situazioni sono cambiate, con l’economia mondiale ed il conseguente mercato del lavoro e le possibilità di trovarne uno che hanno dimostrato di essere piuttosto instabili a prescindere da dove si viva, ragion per cui alcuni uomini si sono ritrovati a rivestire ruoli che non avrebbero mai pensato di ricoprire e tantomeno che sarebbero stati considerati accettabili dalle precedenti generazioni.

            Comunque, a prescindere da chi sia coinvolto in questo processo e chi faccia paragoni e sia in competizione, l’aspetto più importante da considerare è che più frequentemente i paragoni vengono fatti, più competitiva la persona si sente, più insicura la persona dimostra di essere e meno si gode la vita.  Perché?  Perché ciò  che realmente genera il bisogno di confronti e di entrare in competizione è – come detto in precedenza – la propria insicurezza, cioè, la propria paura di non andare bene così come si è (di non essere abbastanza intelligenti, istruti, ricchi, etc.).  Tutto ciò è profondamento radicato  nella mancanza di conoscenza del Sé e nella mancanza di consapevolezza del proprio valore in quanto essere viventi intelligenti e che meritano di essere felici e di godersi completamente la vita a prescindere dalla propria apparenza fisica, dal proprio stato sociale e quant’altro possa essere considerato erroneamente importante nella propria vita, ma che in realtà non lo è assolutamente.  Solamente quando comprendiamo questi aspetti e ciò che è veramente in gioco, solo quando ci connettiamo con il Sé, abbracciamo chi realmente siamo ed amiamo chi siamo riusciamo a liberarci dal peso del confrontarci con gli altri, dall’invidia, dalla gelosia, e la smettiamo di essere competitivi.  Essere in grado di fare ciò, amando noi stessi e gli altri – indipendentemente da chi siano e cosa facciano nella vita – e mostrando uno spirito di solidarietà aiutandoci gli uni gli altri ed essendo pronti a farlo a prescindere dal fatto che ci venga richiesto o meno, è l’unico modo che abbiamo per dimostrare che abbiamo capito che siamo tutti connessi gli uni agli altri e che non può esserci alcuna felicità fino a quando un altro essere vivente soffrirà o non sarà amato.  Solo allora, ossia, solo quando manifesteremo in noi stessi la trasformazione che vogliamo vedere nel mondo – come espresse in maniera stupenda Mahatma Gandhi – potremo conoscere il vero Amore, la vera Felicità e completa Salute e rendere questo mondo un posto migliore.  

 Maria Teresa De Donato©2013-2015. All Rights Reserved



Per saperne di più sulla mia attività di Consulente Olistico della Salute e Coach, sui miei servizi e prodotti potete visitare i seguenti siti:







Life Coaching Lesson #2: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others and Embrace Who You Are


Life Coaching Lesson #2:
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others and Embrace Who You Are

Maria Teresa De Donato, PhD, Life Strategist

“Education should inculcate in all of us the idea that Mankind is only one family with common interests. And, as consequence, that cooperation is more important than competition."
(Bertrand Russell)



            Most of us will agree that comparing ourselves to others happens more often than we wish it would.  And this since a very early age: if you don’t believe it, and if you don’t have any young children or grandchildren to observe so that they can make you change your view on this topic, I invite you to go and visit a childcare and sit in the toddlers’ room for a while.  It will be only a matter of time but sooner or later one of them will most likely look at the toy he or she has been playing with, for quite some time or even just for a few minutes, when not seconds, decide that the one his or her next to toddler is playing with is more beautiful, more interesting, or just more colorful, grab it from the other child’s hand and – whenever deemed necessary – give a good push to him or her just in case he or she appears not to be willing to give it up or recognize who, from that moment on, will be in charge of it, and take over.

            Yes, I know, you are probably thinking that toddlers, and very young children in general, do have these sorts of issues due to the fact that they have not learned and  assimilated yet fundamental concepts such as those related to property and possession, let alone that something can be shared with somebody else.  You are absolutely right.  At the same time, however, you might not have noticed it, but you yourself might have preserved that childish attitude of comparing yourself to others all your life without even being aware of it.  How?  Let’s make a few examples by taking into account both ladies and gentlemen.

            First of all, let’s clarify one thing: the tendency, or should we rather say the unhealthy habit of and attitude, to comparing oneself to somebody else has nothing to do with the other – whoever he or she might be – but everything to do with ourselves, with our sense of insecurity, low self-esteem and fear.  All of these factors are, in fact, the main cause of jealousy and envy and lead us to see that “the grass of our neighbor is always greener.”

            There are differences, however, among sexes that, in my view and according to my personal, several decade long observations, direct and indirect experience and understanding make the ladies win big time over the gentlemen.  Men, in fact, though they also can fall into the trap of comparing themselves to somebody else, usually have a much smaller area of action, that is, they can compare themselves and feel competitive towards another and, consequently, being envious or jealous for a few things, with most of them being generally related to their sense of social status and financial resources.  As consequence, men can get in trouble, openly manifesting their competitive attitude when not boycotting the other in a more sneaky way, when it comes to a higher position held by somebody else at work, to a promotion – deserved or not – and the consequent advancement in salary given to a coworker, the chance somebody else gets to buy a bigger or nicer house, car, motorcycle, and sometimes even for somebody else having married, getting engaged or just having a relationship with a prettier or simply smarter partner than he has.  Sometimes such a competitive attitude may also extend to the area of children so that those who are fathers end up making comparisons between the material possessions their children have, or do not have, compared to those of others, which is really related to what they, as parents, can or cannot afford and, consequently, offer or not offer to them, and the ability and/or willingness of their children to obtain higher grades in school and even to attend college, which are both linked to the possibility of having a better future than they had as parents.  Once again, most of these reasons, if not all of them, concerning why men engage in some competitive behaviors seem to refer to the person’s status quo and financial possibility. 

            Women, on the other hand, gifted as they are with much more fantasy and imagination than men, can be much more creative as well as for the never-ending list of categories of motives which may lead to comparisons and, consequently, to express, in some way or the other, their competitiveness.  The latter, in fact, though sometimes not clearly and verbally expressed, can be evident, to an even much greater extent than words would allow for, by the use of silence.  So many times, in fact, rather than openly express her envy and/or jealousy towards the other female subject, the one who is competitive by nature, or more competitive – for not everybody is nor is so to the same extent – manifests her real feelings by not acknowledging the other.  Other times, to the contrary, when these feelings are openly expressed, they take the form of derogatory and/or denigratory statements and comments.  Hence, in the female world, generally speaking, almost anything can trigger a woman’s competitiveness: from who is/was the best in school, to who has the most beautiful color of the eyes, the highest shoes, the nicest makeup, the trendier color-form-style of hair, the cleanest house, and on and on.  

            Though competition seems to usually take place between people of the same sex, every now and then it may also occur between people of opposite sex.  According to my observation, this usually happens for one or more of the following reasons, that is, when a man and a woman run for the same position and career advancement, with the man – regardless of the female’s attitude – usually having hard time to recognize her as his boss, and/or when a man has difficulties to accept her higher education, brighter mind or just her more secure, more assertive or even dominant personality.  As for the latter, besides personality issues, there might be also some historical reasons for that, which are usually deep rooted in almost all cultures, since the beginning of time.  I am referring here to the fact that almost all civilizations, except for the few which are based on matriarchy, have taught that the man must be the leader, in charge of the family, the community, the country and that, therefore, he is the one who needs to provide financially speaking for all those he loves.  Men are raised to believe this and, consequently, when they find themselves in a situation which proves that that is not always going to be true they feel uncomfortable, insecure, their whole world is shaken.  Despite all of this, however, in recent years so many situations have changed, with the world economy and consequent job market and employment possibilities proving to be quite unstable no matter where we live, some men have found themselves playing a role they would have never thought they would, let alone it would have been deemed acceptable by previous generations.    
           
            However, no matter who is involved in the process and who is the one comparing and competing, the most important aspect to consider is that the more often the comparisons are made, the more competitive the person feels, the more insecure the individual proves to be and the less he or she enjoys his or her own life.   Why?  Because what really generates the need for making comparisons and becoming competitive towards another human being is – as previously stated – one’s own insecurity, that is, one’s own fear to not be good (smart, educated, rich, etc.) enough.  This is deeply rooted in the lack of knowledge of the Self and in the lack of awareness of the one’s self value as living, intelligent being which deserves to be happy and to fully enjoy life regardless one’s physical appearances, social status or whatever we might erroneously consider ‘important’ in our life and which, as a matter of fact, is not. 

            It’s only when we truly understand these aspects and what it is really at stake, once we connect with the Self, embrace who we are and finally love who we are that we eventually are able to get rid of the burden of comparison, envy, jealousy, and stop being competitive.  Being able to do so, by loving ourselves and other people – no matter who they are or what they do in life – and showing a spirit of solidarity by helping each other and being there for one another regardless if we are asked for it or not is the only way we have to prove that we have understood that we are all linked to one another and that, happiness, therefore, cannot take place until there is another living being suffering or being not loved.  Only then, that is, only once we manifest in ourselves the transformation we want to see in our world – as Mahatma Gandhi so beautifully stated – we will be able to come to know true Love, Happiness and Health and make this world a better place.    

To know more about my activities, services and products, feel free to visit also the following web sites:

http://www.dedoholistic.com

http://www.holistic-coaching-dedonato.com











Maria Teresa De Donato©2013-2016. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Life Coaching Lezione #1: Confrontarsi con la Realtà

Life Coaching Lezione #1: Confrontarsi con la Realtà


Dott.ssa Maria Teresa De Donato, Life Strategist



La realtà è quella cosa che anche quando finisci di crederla non se ne va
 (Phillip K. Dick, Spero di arrivare presto)




Confrontati con la realtà! Quante volte abbiamo sentito e, forse, usato questa espressione?  Centinaia, forse migliaia.  Ma cosa significa realmente “confrontarsi con la realtà” e perché è così importante farlo? Come vedremo, confrontarsi con la realtà include vari fattori tra cui accettazione, comprensione, consapevolezza, concentrazione, determinazione e coraggio.

Prima di tutto “confrontarsi con la realtà” significa accettare chi sei nel modo in cui sei fatto/a e ció che è per come è. L’atto di accettare, comunque, non include necessariamente l’arrenderti ed il sottostare passivamente a tutto ciò che la Vita ti presenta, ma piuttosto definire la situazione per ciò che è, dandole il suo giusto nome.  Tutto ciò richiede una vera comprensione e completa consapevolezza del tuo Sé e della realtà per quella che è a prescindere da come tu la percepisca. Le percezioni, infatti, possono sviarci. Tu puoi, tuttavia, reimpostarle/riprogrammarle e correggerle se sei consapevole della loro dinamica e del modo errato e non equilibrato in cui esse interferiscono con te, la tua visione, la tua Vita e, forse, persino con la tua salute ed il tuo benessere.

Negare la realtà e restare impantanato/a pensando all’ingiustizia di tutto ciò che ti è accaduto, che altri ti hanno fatto o al perché ciò sia successo, così come il cercare di giustificarti e d’indulgere nel mondo della fantasia non ti aiutano affatto. Al contrario, tutto ciò contribuisce ad una grande perdita di tempo, energie e concentrazione che prolunga l’agonia ritardando la soluzione dei tuoi problemi e, con essa, la possibilità di raggiungere la tua felicità ed il tuo successo.

Detto ciò, vedere te stesso come sei realmente – non come vorresti essere – e la situazione in cui ti trovi come realmente è – e non come vorresti che fosse – è assolutamente necessario.  Inoltre, smettila di attribuire la colpa agli altri, ad iniziare dai tuoi genitori che generalmente sono i primi ad essere biasimati per la mancanza del nostro successo e per i nostri errori, non è vero?  Accetta il fatto che hanno fatto tutto ciò che potevano fare, ossia, se fossero stati in grado di fare di meglio lo avrebbero certamente fatto.  Smettila di giustificarti per i tuoi errori ed assenza di successo a prescindere da quanto sia grande la tua tentazione di farlo e quanto ti sia facile o difficile cercare di razionalizzarli.  Accettane la responsabilità come un modo per crescere, per maturare e per continuare a progredire nella vita.  Assumiti completa responsabilità di come è la tua Vita, sia per ciò che hai fatto e che ha contribuito a farne ciò che è, sia per ciò che non hai fatto e che l’ha trasformata in ciò che è ora.

Sì, forse hai ragione; forse hai avuto difficoltà crescendo in una famiglia disadattata ed in circostanze sicuramente sfavorevoli. Accettare la realtà, comunque, essere determinato/a ad esercitare il pieno controllo sulla tua Vita, avere il coraggio di mettere un punto e girare pagina può essere tutto ciò di cui hai bisogno per iniziare il tuo cammino verso la felicità.  Non devi continuare a soffrire per gli errori – reali o percepiti come tali – che altri hanno commesso e che ti hanno causato sofferenza, né continuare a ripetere i tuoi. Dovresti prendere questa come un’opportunità per avere un nuovo inizio e continuare ad avanzare nella tua Vita. Solo riconoscendo qualcosa ed accettando il fatto che è ciò che è puoi acquistare piena consapevolezza di te stesso/a e della realtà che ti circonda, delineare una strategia, lavorare alla soluzione del problema e, di conseguenza, progredire e realizzare.

Piuttosto interessante è il fatto che il delineare una strategia ed il lavorare alla soluzione di un problema molto spesso non richiedono necessariamente un’azione fisica, ma piuttosto una mentale: l’accettare, ossia l’atto di arrendersi alla realtà con cui ci si confronta e la presa di coscienza di ciò che può essere fatto in quanto ad avere un approccio diverso o una diversa percezione o convinzione  e, di conseguenza, un diverso sentimento verso quella determinata realtà al fine di progredire.  A volte, nel far ciò, potresti avere l’impressione che il problema sia scomparso come per miracolo.  La situazione, tuttavia, potrebbe essere ancora lì presente, ma solo sembrare che sia improvvisamente svanita dalla tua vista grazie al tuo diverso approccio e modo di guardare ad essa.  Quando ciò accadrà tu avrai finalmente smesso di boicottarti e sarai in sintonia con il tuo Sé.

Ciò segnerà l’inizio di un viaggio di gran lunga migliore rispetto a quello che hai fatto sino ad ora. Inutile dire, tuttavia, che potrebbero esserci delle cose che dovrai fare diversamente, così come non dovresti aspettarti di aver successo continuando a fare le cose che hai sempre fatto e facendole nel modo in cui le hai sempre fatte e che non ti hanno portato a nulla di positivo e, nonstante ciò, illuderti di ottenere un risultato diverso.  Per concludere, a prescindere da dovi ti trovi in questo momento nella tua Vita e quanto negative possano essere o sembrarti le tue circostanze, sii cosciente del fatto che c’è sempre la possibilità di migliorarle, di fare un’inversione di marcia ed abbracciare un futuro molto più felice e luminoso che è lì ad attenderti. Ricorda: tutto ció di cui hai bisogno è dentro di te. 

Maria Teresa De Donato©2013 All Rights Reserved.



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Life Coaching Lesson #1: Getting Real

Life Coaching Lesson #1: Getting Real

Maria Teresa De Donato, PhD, Life Strategist

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, does not go away
(Phillip K. Dick, I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon)



Get real!  How many times we have heard and, maybe, even used this expression?   Hundreds, maybe even thousands.  But what “getting real” means and why it is so important to get real?  As we will see, getting real includes several factors, among which are acceptance, understanding, awareness, focus, determination, and courage.

First of all, getting real means accepting who you are the way you are and what it is for the way it is.  The act of acceptance, however, does not necessarily encompass to give in and passively undergo whatever Life brings to you, but rather define it the way it is, give it its proper name.  All of this requires true understanding and full awareness of your Higher Self and of reality as it is, regardless how you may perceive it.  Perceptions, in fact, can be misleading.  You can, however, reset and correct them if you are aware of their dynamics and the way the wrong or unbalanced ones interfere with you, your vision, your life, and, maybe, even with your health and wellness. 

Being in denial and getting stuck thinking about the unfairness of what happened to you, of what others did to you and why, along with making excuses and indulging in fantasy land do not help you at all either.  To the contrary, they all contribute to a great loss of time, energy, and focus which only extends your agony and delays the solution to your problems and, with it, the possibility to reach your own happiness and success.

That said, looking at yourself the way you really are – not as you would like yourself to be – and examining the situation you are in as it really is – and not as you wish it were – are absolutely a must.  Besides, stop blaming other people, beginning with your parents, for they are usually the very first to be blamed for our lack of success and shortcomings, aren’t they?  Accept the fact that they all did what they could, that is had they been able to do better, they would have certainly done it.  Stop justifying your mistakes and lack of success no matter how tempted you are to doing so and how easily or hardly you try to rationalize them.  Accept accountability as a way to grow up, to mature, and to make progress in life.  Take full responsibility for the way your life is, both for what you have done to contribute to it or not done to avoid it to turn the way it did. 

Yes, you may be right; you may have had hard time growing up in a dysfunctional family and in quite unfavorable circumstances.  Yet, accepting reality, being determined to take control over your life, have the courage to put a period and turn page may be all that you need to start walking the path to happiness.  You don’t have to keep suffering for the mistakes – real or perceived as such – that others, willingly or unwillingly, did and that caused pain to you, nor keep repeating yours over and over again.  You should take this opportunity to have a new fresh start and move on with your life.  Only by recognizing something and by accepting the fact that it is what it is, you can become fully aware of yourself and the reality you are in, delineate a strategy, work towards the solution of the problem and, consequently, move forward and accomplish more.

Interestingly enough, delineating a strategy and working towards the solution of a problem, more often than not, do not actually involve a physical action but rather a mental one: acceptance, that is the act of surrender to the reality one is confronted with and the awareness of what can be done in terms of taking a different approach or experiencing a different perception or belief, and consequently, a different feeling toward that reality in order to move on.  Sometimes, by doing so, you may have the impression that the problem is miraculously solved.  The situation, however, may still be there and yet appear as having been dissipated, all of a sudden, from your view in virtue of your different approach to it and of your new way of looking at it.  When this happens you will have probably stopped self-boycotting yourself and finally tuned in with your true Self. 

This will be the start of a much better journey than the one you may have had so far.  No need to say, however, that there might be things you have to do differently as well for you should not expect to be successful by keeping doing the things you have been doing, in the way you have, and which have led to no positive outcome and still expect a different result. 

In conclusion, no matter where you are at the moment, or how bad your circumstances may be or appear to you, be aware that there is always room for improvement, for making a u-turn and embracing the much happier and brighter future which has been waiting for you.   Remember: All you need to succeed is already within you.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Obesity: From Aestheticism to Disease

Obesity: From Aestheticism to Disease

By

Maria Teresa De Donato, PhD, RDN, CNC, CMH, CHom



Obesity from an aesthetic, cultural, and psychological perspective


               For a quite long time our Western world has identified obesity primarily as an aesthetic issue.  Hence, it was quite revealing several years ago to watch a documentary that PBS broadcasted on KLRU, which, while focusing on the concept of female beauty, mentioned how the latter is differently perceived and, consequently, defined depending on culture and ethnicity.  One of the main aspects that emerged from that video was the consideration that seeing beauty as synonym of being slim is a phenomenon that characterizes predominantly our white Western society.

            As a matter of fact, according to the information PBS presented on that occasion, African-Americans and Africans in general are usually more prone to associate beauty with harmonious forms rather than with being thin.  This means, for instance, that no matter if a woman is overweight or even obese – at least to a certain extent – as long as she has her ‘right curves’ and is well proportioned, that is her waist and hips are clearly defined, she would still have the potential to be considered as beautiful.

            We all, however, may agree that the concept of beauty has undergone some drastic changes over time.  As a result, what was considered ideal body image, and, therefore, ideal weight in the 50s was already obsolete in the 70s.  During those last forty years, the fashion world, whose goal does not encompasse taking into account one’s own slower or faster metabolism and musculoskeletal structure and dimensions, nor the consequences and implications of malnourishment, and unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits, has determined, and educated the public accordingly, that the ideal body image is supposed to be very slim, sometimes even questionably close to anorexic.  This has led millions of people, primarily women, to become very concerned about, if not even obsessed with the way they look and led them to attempt and match as close as they can an ideal figure that for the majority of us would simply be an unrealistic expectation.  It goes without saying, however, that feeling right and at peace with and within our body image and size favorably impacts our self-esteem.  In fact, people who struggle with their body weight and self-image are usually under a much higher stress than the average person who doesn’t, for a number of reasons ranging from not looking as good as they suppose they should, to the fear of being criticized or even mocked by others due to their oversized physical appearances, especially if in their teen years when the need to feel accepted by the group is, usually, at its climax.  All these issues may worsen the situation for many people who became overweight or even obese due to emotional, excessive eating, and contribute to the problem to a much greater extent, trapping them in a catch-22, which in many cases appears as impossible to escape from.  
  
            Though the previously mentioned PBS documentary was pretty inspirational in revealing its approach to beauty from different cultural perspectives and in examining the dimensions of the human body strictly from an aesthetic point of view, all of which contributes to better understand socio-cultural aspects, when we, however, consider obesity from a medical perspective and analyze its impact on human health, we may end up with a completely different evaluation and conclusion.  In fact, as Jeremy Kaslow, MD – a Board Certified Internal Medicine Physician and Surgeon who has been practicing for more than twenty five years in Orange County, California – correctly stated when referring to diet and self image, while losing weight “at any price” in order to “fit into a particular dress or feel comfortable in a swimsuit, is about image…” weight management, to the contrary, is related to “the pursuit of lifelong health.” (Trivieri, L. & Anderson, J. W., 2002, p. 826)

Obesity: What it is and what causes it

            A recent article titled “A.M.A. Recognizes Obesity as a Disease”, and published online by The New York Times, attempted to make a summary of the main issues that obesity brings with it.  Interestingly enough, the article stated that “the question of whether obesity is a disease or not is a semantic one, since there is not even a universally agreed upon definition of what constitutes a disease… .”  (Retrieved July 1st, 2013 from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/19/business/ama-recognizes-obesity-as-a-disease.html?_r=0)

            As a matter of fact, navigate among the various schools of thought in the attempt to determine what a proper definition of health and disease might be would take much time and endless efforts and lead us astray from our current discussion, at least for now.  Huge is, in fact, the difference between mainstream medicine – which is fundamentally based only on what is physically provable through clinical analysis – and the holistic approach of alternative/complementary medicine, which, by taking into account the complexity of human life and, consequently, of health from a physical, spiritual and emotional perspective includes also all the invisible and, from the conventional medical point of view, ‘improvable’ aspects all of which, nonetheless, still contribute to our health and well-being.  That said, we are going to examine right away what obesity is and how and when a person is classified as obese.        

            The Free Online Medical Dictionary defines obesity as “an abnormal accumulation of body fat, usually 20 percent or more over an individual’s ideal body weight” and distinguishes as mild obesity being between 20 to 40% over one’s ideal body weight; as moderate obesity being between 40 to 100% overweight; and as severe or morbid obesity being 100% over one’s ideal weight.  The body mass index (BMI) is considered to be the unit of measurement to calculate whether a person should be classified as obese, with BMI of 25.9-29 indicating being overweight and BMI over 30 the state of obesity. (Retrieved July 10, 2013 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/obesity)

            Despite their differences on what may constitute health and disease and how to deal with them, today both mainstream and alternative medicine seem to agree that the two main factors which cause a person to become overweight or even obese are an incorrect, imbalanced diet and unhealthy lifestyle habits.  Genetic hereditary factors, in fact, though may in some cases increase the chances to have to struggle with weight management and loss, do not necessarily determine the final result, for, as a matter of fact, predisposition does not mean that people are condemned to succumb and become fat, but only that they might be more inclined than others to accumulate weight if they do not pay extra attention and educate themselves about what foods to eat, in what quantity and combination, and stay away from conducting a sedentary lifestyle.

            Leaving aside the aesthetic factor previously mentioned, obesity is a serious condition which has proven to lead to a great variety of health issues including “degenerative diseases, heart problems, certain cancers, diabetes, arthritis and more… .” Furthermore “high blood pressure, varicose veins, kidney problems, infertility, gallstones, and liver disease” (Balch J. F. & Stengler M., 2004, p. 390) also have a higher probability to occur if the individual is overweight.  Had not been that enough, the consequence of obesity, which is in fact a highly toxic state, is a depressed immune system, which makes people overweight more prone than others to become sick for all sorts of reasons.  But why can we define obesity as a highly toxic state?   What originates obesity?  And is obesity more spread in some countries rather than in others?  The following subtitle will try to answer these questions.

Our modern, industrialized world and obesity

            Though some people born and raised in our developed Western countries might not know or even have hard time to believe it, over the centuries there have been several civilizations – such as the Okinawa in Japan, the Hunzas, who were discovered only around the 1920s by the British Army and the Karakorum, who both lived in the Himalayan-northeastern Pakistan region; the Russian Georgians, Abkasian and Ajerbaijanis; the Titicacas and Vilcabambans in South America; and the Hopis, Thlinglets and Labradors in North America (Day, 2007, pp. 8-12) – who have become famous for their amazing health and longevity, with many of them reaching 120 years and more and looking half of their age, being still fit and conducting plenty of physical activities, sports included.  Among these people health issues so widely spread in our Western world, such as obesity, stroke, diabetes and cancer, to name a few, were completely unknown.  Some common features, which emerged from the reports made by the Western observers who got in touch with and lived among them, were identified with a healthy diet primarily based on vegetables, fruits, grain, a pretty low consume of animal proteins, a quite active lifestyle through physical labor and sports and/or games, and a strong sense of family and community relationships.  The kind of nutrition these civilizations used has also characterized for millennia other Asian populations whose diet highly reflects the teaching and philosophy of the two main Eastern medical systems, that is the Indian Ayurveda and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) both of which encourage the use of whole foods and vegetables and discourage the high consume of animal proteins.

            If we look today at the state of health of the worldwide population we might reach the conclusion that obesity is primarily and widely spread in the most industrialized countries and in those on their way to become as such,  or – simply stated – that is the result of wealth and abundance.  As a matter of fact, people living in third world countries, especially those in the countryside who sustain themselves with a more vegetarian, when not even complete vegan diet and conduct a simple, yet quite active existence are almost never overweight, let alone obese.

            The result of our industrialized world and its impact on people’s diet and sedentary lifestyle, both of which contribute to the epidemic of obesity and other degenerative diseases which follow it, are under our very eyes.  According to the information Phillip Day provided in his book Health Wars  (2007), there were “one in five people in the UK” considered “medically obese” by the British government’s National Audit Office (NAO) in 2001, while the number of people overweight had tripled during the last 20 years, leading to some 58% of the British population being classified as overweight, this causing “more than 30,000 premature deaths in the UK in 1998” and some “£ 2.6 billion in treatment.” (p. 55)

            The UK data, however, were not very different from those of the U.S. that author Patrick Holford mentioned in his work The New Optimum Nutrition Bible, with the U.S. sadly detaining the worldwide obesity record with its 60% of Americans being overweight, 30% being obese, and the numbers still on the rise.  The same source also stressed how obesity increases “the risk for diabetes by seventy-seven times” and with it the chance of “heart disease by eight times”, along with costing the US $117 billions and claiming some 400,000 lives per year. (2004, p. 316).

            Furthermore, though till some 15-20 years ago it was almost impossible to see an Asian person being overweight or obese, the Globalization and the export of our Western world with its quite unhealthy typical American diet to those countries have seriously compromised their balanced dietary habits.  In his article China’s alarming increase in obesity blamed on more affluent lifestyle, published on The Guardian on August 18, 2006, science correspondent James Randerson denounced the “alarming” rate at which obesity has been increasing in China during those last several years, “with nearly 15% of the population overweight and a 28-fold increase in the problem in children in 15 years” as the British Medical Journal reported.  According to his article the reasons for all this were a much higher consume of meat and an increase in sedentary lifestyle.  Obesity, and along with it diabetes and heart disease, started rising at an epidemic level in this ancient civilization where for millennia such health related issues were very rare, when not even completely unknown.  Professor Yangfeng Wu – Director of The George Institute, China, Executive Associate Director at the University Clinical Research Institute in Peking, Honorary Professor at The Georgia Institute for Global Health, Sidney Medical SchoolAustralia, and also a member of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing – who is responsible for the country’s obesity control program admitted that according to the China’s 2002 statistics there were already 14.5% of Chinese, that is 184 million people, overweight and 2.6%, or 31 millions, already obese.  The most dramatic aspect emerging from these data was, consequently, the rate at which overweight and obesity were growing, that is “28 times between 1985 and 2000 in children aged seven to 18”, this leading “one fifth of the overweight or obese people in the world” to be Chinese.  As Professor Barnett, Head of the diabetes and obesity group at Birmingham Universitysynthesized “westernization” and “urbanization” had been contributing to the striking change in diet and lifestyle determining the epidemic of obesity and other related degenerative diseases.  As a result, the Chinese millennial civilization, whose diet was mainly based on rice and vegetables, now sees the “excess body fat…[as] …health and prosperity” – as Professor Wu put it. (2006) (Retrieved July 18, 2013 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/aug/18/china.mainsection).   Had not been obesity enough, as Janet Larsen reported in her Earth Policy Institute ReleasePlan B Update May 25, 2011 “cancer is now the leading cause of death in China” claiming, according to the Chinese Ministry of Health, almost a quarter of all deaths in the nation. (Retrieved July 18, 2013 from www.earth-policy.org/plan_b_updates/2011/update96)
           
            These data seem to confirm our previous statement that obesity is the result of wealth and abundance.  However, though obesity is, in fact, related to more food consumption, so often unfortunately encouraged by the ‘all you can eat’ advertising policy amply spread in our western world, USA in primis, the reality is more complex than that.  When we do not feed our body with all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and in balance, our body keeps asking for more food till it feels satisfied.  Processed and refined foods, which have been deprived from most of their nutrients through their respective industrialized processes, play a specific role: they make the products look white, a color that according to market analysis renders them more appealing to the public and, consequently, leads to more sales and higher profits.  These processes, however, strongly contribute to the productions of foods which have from very low to no nutritional value at all.  These factors explain the need for most people who consume simple, white carbohydrates to increase their intake over time in order to satisfy the need for the nutrients their bodies so desperately have been longing for and deprived of. 

            The first consequence of these kinds of low to no nutritional value foods is a state of high minerals deficiency which leads to degenerative diseases.  An example of fundamental food considered by both the already mentioned Ayurveda, which is the oldest medical system we know of, dating back to some 5,000 years, and TMC as a mean “to strengthen the body and nurture the mind and the heart” is the wheat berry which, by undergoing “the industrialized production methods” of refinement and processing “is stripped of its essential values” (Pitchford, 2002, p. 8) and, consequently, loses all its historical efficacy. 

            Among the major deficiencies caused by the use of refined foods are those related to selenium and magnesium.  Deficiency in selenium leads to hypothyroidism, also called low thyroid, a problem affecting in the US five times more women than men.  Furthermore, obesity and hypothyroidism are strictly connected to each other due to the fact that since selenium impacts “the transmission of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine” (T3), which facilitates the absorption of nutrients, its deficiency slows this process and leads to overweight or even to obesity.  An insufficient quantity of selenium intake also allows for the accumulation of heavy metals due to the fact that selenium bounds up with them counteracting their toxicity as well as the activity of different kinds of viruses, HIV included.  To the contrary, a balanced diet containing a sufficient quantity of selenium prevents “premature aging, heart disease, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.” (Pitchford, 2002, pp. 8, 9)

            Deficiency in magnesium, also caused by high consume of refined food,  characterizes almost “70% of the United States population” and according to TCM, is responsible for “stagnation, erratic changes in the body, emotions, or mind” and highlights the “liver/gallbladder imbalance.” On the other hand, the highly beneficial and even healing properties of magnesium can prevent and/or counteract “irritability, depression, bipolar disorder, sleep disorder, and PMS (premenstrual syndrome):…migraine, sudden infant death syndrome, cramps, and spasm anywhere in the body…, constipation and the fast-cycling blood sugar imbalance in alcoholism and diabetes.” (p. 9)
           
            Though this may surprise someone, people living in underdeveloped countries whose diet is plant based and, consequently, consume a higher quantity of legumes – like beans, soy, peas, lentils, chickpeas and many others – along with whole grains and seeds, do not suffer from magnesium deficiency due to the fact that plants are much richer of this nutrient than animal proteins are.  To the contrary, magnesium deficiency is among the main aspects characterizing the poor quality of the average American’s diet which, by consisting primarily of high-fat, low-fiber, refined junk foods, including white flour processed meat, fat sugar, alcohol, canned and processed foods, preservatives, and toxins not only causes malnourishment but, by not including the necessary amount of fibers the body needs daily to prevent and eliminate the accumulation of toxins, precludes the maintenance of a healthy colon and compromises the immune system to an even greater extent.  The result of this is autointoxication, that is, a serious state of self-poisoning generated within the body and caused by toxic substances, such as microorganisms, parasites or pathogen flora, metabolic wastes and other toxins ingested through either foods or the use of chemicals for both our personal care and other cleaning activities.

            Another important aspect which contributes to obesity is the high amount of sugar consumed and its poor quality.  The term sugar embraces a wide umbrella of different kinds of products running from dextrose, originated from starches, to fructose, contained in fruits, to lactose, from milk, to maltose, from malt, to sucrose, which is the refined product derived from cane and beet which people generally use in their tea, coffee, cakes and is contained in soft drinks, and from which its “salts, fibers, enzymes, proteins, vitamins, and minerals have been removed”. (Day, 2007, p. 98)

            Alarming is also the fact that the sugar-sweetened foods that people usually buy and consume have reached some 8.68 million tons of sugar each year, which equal to 73 pounds per person per year and represent the 25 percent of total calories consumed only in the US versus the no more than 10 percent that the WHO (World Health Organization) suggests to use per person. (Holford, 2004, p. 44)  Besides, according to the NCHS (National Center for Health Statistics) Data Brief published by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) on May 2013 under the title Consumption of Added Sugars Among U.S. Adults, 2005-2010 non-Hispanic black men and women consumed a larger percentage of their total calories from added sugars than non-Hispanic white and Mexican-American men and women with an increased consumption of added sugars, which included sweeteners added to processed and prepared foods, being linked to a decrease in intake of essential micronutrients [1, 2] and an increase in body weight [3]. Though according to this source the statistic showed that the majority of added sugars was obtained from foods rather than beverages, the article pointed out that previous research has proven that when foods and beverages are separated into specific food and beverage items regular sodas are the leading food source of added sugar, at least for adults aged 18-54 [6], with one-third of calories from added sugars being consumed among adults, 40% of calories from added sugars consumed among children and adolescents as beverages [5] and regardless of whether the added sugars are from food or beverages, the majority of the calories from added sugars as well as total calories are consumed at home by both adults and youth. (Retrieved July 29, 2013 from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db122.htm)

            Sugar is fundamental to our lives for by burning it converts itself into the energy our body needs to function properly.  Its activity and main purpose very much resemble the one that the oil (petrol or gasoline) provides to our vehicle: it makes the engine run and enables people to drive where they need to.  However, while a moderate amount of natural sugar is needed for a correct intake of energy, an excess quantity of refined sugar is highly detrimental to our health for it “passes quickly into the bloodstream in large amount, giving the stomach and pancreas a shock.” (Pitchford, 2002, p. 189)  This produces an acid condition that negatively impacts our body through the loss of minerals and calcium, with the latter causing bone problems, and a weakened digestive system that does not allow the food to be effectively digested.  Blood sugar imbalance and craving for more sugar are the results of this process. 

            However, it’s important to keep in mind that more than the amount of calories intake per se, the real issue when we talk about obesity relates to our metabolism, that is the ability of and speed with which our body transforms the food we eat into fat and keeps our blood sugar level even.  Once our body can no longer keep our blood sugar level even, a state of imbalance, that is of insulin resistance occurs.  In this case the blood sugar level undergoes a real rollercoaster: when it’s too high, it turns sugar into fat; when it’s too low, the body lacks the energy it needs to perform efficiently and the person feels lethargic.  During these ups and downs, when the blood sugar level is high the body produces insulin, through which the sugar transitions from the blood into the cells and converts any excess sugar into fat.  As consequence, the higher the blood sugar level, the more insulin is produced, and the more insulin is produced the more sugar is transformed into fat till the body’s cells become less responsive, that is insulin resistant, this increasing the production of insulin to an even greater extent.  Eventually, when the cells become completely unresponsive, diabetes appears. (Holford, 2004, pp. 316, 317)

Obesity as Disease: What to do next

            In 1948 WHO (World Health Organization) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  In so doing, and despite the strong impact that our Western, Newtonian materialistic concept of medicine might have exercised, through this definition WHO proved to have taken into account the invisible, intangible, and sometimes improvable factors – being emotions, beliefs, and psyche – all of which also contribute to health, or the lack of it, as Ayurveda, TMC, and Homeopathy have recognized through the centuries thanks to their holistic approach to life and health. 

            While referring to the definition of disease according to TCM, Dr. Andrew Weil explained in his work Guide To Optimum Health that a physical illness is the consequence of a non-material one, that is, the result of energy imbalance or blockage, which if not liberated and allowed to freely flow within and without the body, materializes itself in the form of physical illness. (Weil, 2002, CD 1).  That said, and considering all the devastating consequences that obesity brings with it, we cannot but agree with the American Medical Association and its recent admission that obesity is, in fact, a disease.  In so doing, we may be glad to see that not only obesity has been in the end correctly classified, but also to realize that the gap between mainstream and alternative medicine has become a little thinner this making them closer to each other at least on this important aspect of human health.    

            During those last thirty years and in the attempt to fight obesity, we have been assisting to the raise and fall of hundreds of weight loss diets and programs – from low-carbohydrate to low-fat and low-sugar – each one claiming to have the capacity to enable people to lose weight, in some cases almost ‘in the blink of an eye’.  Although a few people might have reached that goal, the truth is that in the majority of the cases all these programs seem to have miserably failed.  The main reason determining their failure has been a simple one: no matter how trendy they were, those programs did not take into account the individual’s specific needs in terms of nutrition and led to a state of imbalance and, consequently, to a positive result in terms of weight loss only in the short run and for few of them. As consequence, in the attempt to recover from their long time deprivation, once the weight loss diet ended in order to satisfy their body’s needs they went back to their old eating and lifestyle habits.  In so doing, hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, not only regained their previous weight, but they ended up weighing even more than they did at the time they started the program.

            In conclusion, now that we have finally agreed that obesity is, in fact, a disease and should be treated as such, our main focus as individuals, community and nation should be working together in terms of education and prevention.  “Prevent is better than cure” the old saying goes.  Though this is true, prevention, however, cannot occur without a proper education about healthy eating and lifestyle habits.  All of this should start at a very young age, when we are in preschool, in order to educate both children and their families about foods properties, everyday nutritional requirements, and balanced lifestyle and proper exercise.  As a matter of fact, becoming aware of the proper way to eat while still enjoying the greatest variety of foods and the nutrients our body needs on a regular basis is absolutely paramount to our health.  No need to say that being active, doing some sort of regular physical exercise beginning with walking each and every single day while avoiding a lazy attitude which is the cause of a detrimental sedentary lifestyle that hurts us by preventing our body to burn the calories in excess and contributes, in the long run, not only to obesity but, as we have considered so far, to an endless number of health issues including degenerative disease, is the correct way to go.

            In the end, therefore, education and prevention are absolutely a must, though the real challenge for many people might be taking responsibility for their own life and, consequently, their health.  This is only possible, however, through the joint effort of will, determination and awareness about what to do next starting with stopping old ways of thinking and justifying bad habits which have led so many individuals in particular, and our nation in general, to detain the unfortunate worldwide record as for the number of obese people and diseases related and caused by obesity, resetting their minds in order to understand and accept the reality of the matter, that is, that obesity is not a merely aesthetic issue but a real disease which can and should be avoided and whose final manifestation is usually not the result of an adverse fate, but rather of our unhealthy choices and behaviors. 

Maria Teresa De Donato©2013-2016. All Rights Reserved.

Photo: Paolo Trotta©2013-2016. All Rights Reserved.

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