Sometimes, conceptualizing the state of one’s health can be difficult. We often are unable to step back and objectively see the impact of what we do and how we behave. The following discussion was written to give you a different perspective on how you see the state of your health and current body weight.

Here’s the twist: For every pound of excess fat you have in your body, you have borrowed against your good health. Think about your excess body fat as debt—just like financial debt.

Financially speaking, in order to get a loan and go into debt, you must have collateral in exchange for the credit—for example, a house or a car. When it comes to your body and health, what could the collateral possibly be? Your body’s only collateral is its energy, vitality, strength, resiliency, and self-healing capacity—in other words, its overall good health.

Hold on, though. There’s more to this story. The main problem with taking on too much financial debt is the enormous costs that must be paid in interest and other maintenance fees. So what do these costs look like in a body in debt with excess body fat? The costs are related to what the body put up for collateral and result in: a chronic low energy state, low self-esteem, depression, joint pain and discomfort, onset of diabetes, onset of hypertension, onset of high cholesterol, increased risk of heart attack, increased risk of stroke, and increased risk of all types of cancers including breast cancer. These payments must be made day after day, year after year—they add up.

The factors listed above are the real costs of carrying too much debt in the form of excess body fat. The purpose of this discussion, however, is not to make you feel bad about yourself—the purpose is to help you see the true costs of your food addiction. As with any addiction, the addicted person cannot start the process of change, healing, and sobriety until she removes the lenses of denial and sees her predicament for what it really is.

Is it time to get your body out of debt? The first step in getting your body out of the debt of excessive body fat is to understand that you likely became addicted to food not because you were “bad” or “lazy” but because you were trying to cope with the situations of your life. All addictions are simply learned methods of coping. At some point in your life, you associated that “when X happens, I do Y, and I feel better.” Largely, X has been some undesirable event or situation and Y has been the addictive behavior. Over time, you repeated doing Y when X occurred, often enough to turn this learned method of coping into a strong habit.

So, the chances are that you did not take on this debt just because you were some free-spending, instant-gratification-seeking person. No, you likely learned to use food to cope. The other two possibilities are that you learned to use food because your family taught you how to be this way, or you really have been that free-spending, instant-gratification-seeking, obsessed person when it comes to food.

In any case, the key steps to get your body out of debt and to stop suffering from the disastrous results of making huge “interest” payments is to do the following:

1. See the devastating costs of your food addiction as reality.

2. Start learning new ways of coping with the situations in your life.

3. Hold yourself accountable to the truth that none of us can have instant gratification and all the pleasure we want all the time. This means that you are willing to become an investor in your body—that is, you are willing to give up some pleasures today in order to achieve future gains tomorrow.

So, now it is up to you to decide how much debt in the form of body fat you are willing to retain. Are you willing to continue to pay the costs of servicing this debt? The only other option—the only good option—is to be relatively debt free and to recoup your body’s good health—its energy, vitality, strength, resiliency, and self-healing capacity!

But don’t worry, just as it takes time to get out of financial debt, it will also take some time to get out of physical debt. The journey of change is made one step at a time!