Pretty much everything we do, every thought we have, is motivated by the desire to be happy. But do we really know what it means to be happy? And if we don’t know the true nature of happiness, then how can we know exactly what we are looking for?
Happiness is a state of being—we don’t feel happy; we are happy. When we begin to identify the differences between pleasure and happiness, it’s easy to see how one is fleeting and dependent on exterior stimulus—things outside our control. For example, a new car can bring us pleasure for a period of time, but that pleasure should not be confused with happiness. What we believe is making us happy in that moment is just that—a moment. Our brains release dopamine which causes these momentary pleasures. Whether we’re having a great meal or purchasing a new car, dopamine is responsible for that momentary rush we feel. That same release of dopamine is linked to addiction to things like drugs, gambling, and even dieting.
Bariatric psychologists say we get momentary highs from certain foods we eat, just like that great meal I mentioned. While some of us might get that rush from fresh pasta at our favorite Italian restaurant and feel satisfied, other people feel the need to maintain that high by constantly consuming foods, which can lead to obesity.
We soon feel the need to move on and find another source of stimulus to make us feel good despite it being for a short time, then another source, and another and another. The pursuit of pleasure is intoxicating and the unhappier we are, the more attractive the fleeting moments of pleasure become.
When this driving motivation to seek pleasure gets out of hand, it becomes very problematic to our health and well-being and can manifest into addictive habits like smoking, alcoholism, compulsive gambling, sex addiction, aggressive behaviors, and violence. It can even be seen in every day behaviors that we accept as “normal.” Dieting, for example, is one way in which some of us may seek happiness.
It’s rewarding when we hit a goal, whether that’s losing 10 pounds or fitting into your favorite pair of jeans again. These are great goals to have but can become a problem when you revert to your pre-diet weight and then start over and over again instead of maintaining good habits and lifestyle changes. When we diet and reach a goal, we get that momentary fix—dopamine is released and we feel satisfied for a moment. Then eventually, we drop the dieting, gain the weight again, and start all over again. This leads to Post Traumatic Dieting Disorder (PTTD). Hitting the goal, getting the fix, believing we’re happy until we gain the weight back and try the next diet. This behavior, however, does not promote lifetime change and can instead lead to larger health issues.
When we look at the extraordinary levels of avoidable health issues as well as the highest rates of depression and anxiety the country has ever seen, it’s easy to conclude that we have become a society of unhappy, pleasure-seeking people who have unknowingly sacrificed happiness for pleasure.
So how do we find happiness?
Well, the very first step has to be accepting responsibility for where we are now. How much of our life is dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure and how has that impacted our health and well-being? And by health, I mean not just the physical body, our emotional and mental health, but also our work, social and family health. The harmonious balance of all these things together culminate in well-being. It is in the fertile soil of well-being that long-lasting sustainable happiness can grow. Without putting these things in check, we’ll continue to fall into the destructive pattern that leads to Post Traumatic Dieting Disorder.
Happiness needs a sound and healthy body for its habitat. It needs to sustain that health with good nutrition and a healthy mind to be able to promote growth of happiness.
At Physician’s Weight Control and Wellness, our weight loss programs are unique in that they are physician-guided and individually tailored to each patient. Because every patient is different, no two treatment plans are the same. The same philosophy applies to our nutrition consulting and coaching programs. These programs are designed to be the next step after meeting with our doctors to ensure your investment in your new lifestyle takes root.
Making real lifestyle changes is important. While some of us make big lifestyle changes when dieting, it’s most important to consider how to make lifestyle changes that we can realistically maintain.
The goal at Physician’s Weight Control Center is to help patients make lifelong positive changes through personalized consultations.
If you have gone back and forth between weight loss and weight gain, tried countless diets with little or temporary results, get in touch with us to discuss how we can help you in your wellness journey. We want to help you achieve your health and wellness goals by getting you to a place where your health is prioritized and you are confident and happy with your weight. It’s not only possible to get to that place—it’s also possible to maintain it through our Physicians Weight control program under the expert care of Dr. Chris Puempel and his compassionate staff.
For more information on how you can achieve your health goals, visit one of our centers or contact us today. We’re looking forward to helping you live your best life.