And because he holds such values, the group-centered leader is more comfortable adopting a role that seems to him consistent with these values. Group-centered leadership has its origins in the application of principles of client-centered psychotherapy to groups and organizations. Consequently, it is to be expected that the group-centered leader holds attitudes similar to those of the client-centered therapist. As these have been described in a previous article,33 they will not be presented here. Stereotyped assumptions about someone's weight are oppressive. Think about what it must be like for larger people--that is, most people living in the United States--to confront daily in the media, doctors' offices, workplaces, and even their homes that their bodies are unattractive and constitute a horrifying public health crisis. That stigma shows up in the health of fat bodies. An opinion piece coauthored by psychologists, sociologists, and behavioral scientists in the journal BMC Medicine made a convincing argument that bias against fat people is actually a driver of the so-called obesity* epidemic, reviewing and citing seventy studies as evidence. Our bodies are not meritocracies. Some people will never be thin, even if they turn down that cheesecake or regularly run marathons. Furthermore, nobody has complete control over their health, regardless of the lifestyle that they lead. Healthism--the belief system that identifies health as the responsibility of the individual and ranks pursuit of health above all else--is harmful and misguided. By positioning health at the level of the individual, it neglects the social determinants of health and obscures the reality that some people have better access to high-quality health care and are more able to engage in health-promoting behaviors, such as getting regular exercise. The result is that people who are sick, disabled, or unhealthy feel that the absence of health is the result of their individual failure, wearing away at feelings of self-worth and giving others license to stigmatize them. Loved ones get sick. Life is messy and it will knock you around. So it's crucial that we load up on the good to boost our resilience. Up until this point in the program, we've been working to solve the problems in your life that are causing you stress and impairing your ability to effectively manage it. You've acquired skills to regulate your stressful emotions, rewire faulty thinking, sleep and eat better to sustain your physical resilience, and sharpen your focus. You're putting out fires, quieting the upheavals, and getting yourself to stable, even ground.

That's all great. But remember, we don't want to just get you to feeling fine. The secret to long-term stress management is to mediate the bad while also adding in the good. That's what today is about. It will be well, however, to translate these attitudes into terms applicable for the group leader. The group-centered leader believes in the worth of the members of the group and respects them as individuals different from himself. They are not persons to be used, influenced, or directed in order to accomplish the leader's aims. They are not people to be led by someone who has superior qualities or more important values. The group-centered leader sees the group or organization as existing for the individuals who compose it. It is the vehicle for the expression of their personalities and for the satisfaction of their needs. He believes that the group as a whole can provide for itself better than can any single member of the group. He believes in the group's fundamental right to self-direction and to self-actualization on its own terms. Rogers in an earlier publication, examining the attitudes which he feels he must have as an administrator, asks himself certain questions: Do I trust the capacities of the group, and of the individuals in the group, to meet the problems with which we are faced, or do I basically trust only myself? It also requires people to continually strive for better health to be deemed worthy, and serves as the foundation for many moralizing and restrictive ideas about life choices. Eating nutritious foods is portrayed as being good, while chocolate is sinful. The idea that everyone is morally obligated to engage in this quest for health hurts more people than it helps. To return to our discussion of hypothalamic control, let's delve deeper by examining the hypothalamus's role in managing our weight--or, more precisely, our body fat. What follows is an example of how diet culture has put us at odds with our own hypothalamic control. You've heard the common wisdom that weight management is a simple matter of calorie control, right?

What doesn't get mentioned is that what's in control is your hypothalamus, not your conscious mind. The system is not so simple after all. This is why: Diets. There's irony when we consider that dieting has probably contributed to why we're fatter these days than ever before. We all have good things that buoy us and give us a healthy boost of self-esteem, like spending quality time with our kids or mentoring someone at work (a proven stress-buster, by the way). And we all have things that pull us down, like missed deadlines, overscheduled days, traffic, problems at home. More bad events, clearly, equal more stress. The more good you stock in your favor, the better you will be able to manage your stress. We're not going to get to happiness or contentment--or even to a state of lasting anti-stress--just by getting to zero. If you use the negativity-busting skills you're learning in this program, you'll get a lot of improvement. But that only gets us to neutral. We need to dial in to the positives if we want lasting change. Stockpiling the positive (and, as you'll learn tomorrow, strengthening your ability to fully live in it) is your long-term insurance policy for meQuilibrium. THE SEESAW OF LIFE: Picture a teeter-totter, like one you might see on a playground. Do I free the group for creative discussion by being willing to understand, accept, and respect all attitudes, or do I find myself trying subtly to manipulate group discussion so that it comes out my way? Do I, as leader, participate by honest expression of my own attitudes but without trying to control the attitudes of others? Do I rely upon basic attitudes for motivation, or do I think surface procedures motivate hehavior? Am I willing to be responsible for those aspects of action which the group has delegated to me? Do I trust the individual to do his job? When tensions occur, do I try to make it possible for them to be brought out into the open?

CONDITIONS WHICH THE GROUP-CENTERED LEADER TRIES TO CREATE As an implementation of his basic philosophy and his attitudes, the group-centered leader tries to create for the group some of the same conditions which in individual and group therapy have been found essential for releasing the constructive forces within the client. The Opportunity for Participation Group problems require group decisions and group action. Dieting is actually a well-established predictor of weight gain, as shown repeatedly in research. When we examine the body's regulatory mechanisms, it shouldn't be surprising that few people sustain weight loss from calorie reduction diets or exercise routines. Scientists have found that our bodies will trigger numerous physiologic pathways to ensure that our weight stays the same. For example, dieting triggers a reduction in the hormone leptin. Less leptin binding to receptors in the hypothalamus, which tracks that sort of thing, triggers a cascade of reactions, including an increase in neuropeptide Y. What does neuropeptide Y do? It increases your appetite and decreases your metabolism--the opposite of what you're shooting for if you're trying to lose weight! Chronic dieting results in chronically lower leptin release, spiking hunger and slowing metabolism, which could easily explain why most people with a history of dieting gain weight over time. Our bodies are (deliberately) overriding the dysregulation of our weight-loss efforts. Check out what happened to contestants on TV's The Biggest Loser. On one side are the bad events in your life, and on the other, the good events. If you lift away the bad events, you can sit at the fulcrum and hang out there as long as you like. You're safe at neutral. But life is what it is, and inevitably, another troubling event will come along to land on the negative side and send it teetering back down to the ground--that is, if there's nothing bearing weight on the positive end. If you've loaded up the positive end with good stuff, you have a natural counterbalance working in your favor. You already know that when it comes to upping your overall ability to handle stress, emotional regulation is top on the list of importance.

But coming right up behind it is recalibrating the ratio of good events to bad in your life. Our research has shown that striking that balance is essential for your resilience and overall sense of peace and well-being. That might seem obvious, but we're not talking about just passively keeping a tally of all that goes on in your days. Notice we didn't say having a balance, but striking a balance. For a group to move toward maximum utilization of its potential, the members of the group must feel that they at least have the opportunity to participate in matters which will affect them. Denial of that opportunity seems to pave the way for reactive, resistive behavior on the part of the members of an organization. This idea is not at all a new one, but it has received more scientific validity in recent years as a necessary condition for both group and individual development. In the exciting work of the investigators who have conducted the Peckham experiments (144), a public health project in an English community, we have a dramatic illustration of the effects of providing the opportunity for families to participate in self-selected activities. It is clear from the descriptions of this project34 that the citizens began to be interested in their own health and subsequently took active steps to improve it because they were simply given the opportunity to participate. The experiments on changing food habits which have been reported by Radke and Klisurich (152) seem to show clearly the values of housewives' participation in the process of arriving at group action-decisions. Golden and Ruttenberg (67) describe several examples in industry of the beneficial effects of management's extending to labor the opportunity to participate in matters that traditionally have been considered the prerogative of management alone. In another study, conducted by the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan (206) and mentioned in an earlier article, it was found that one of the factors distinguishing supervisors of low-productivity work-groups from supervisors of high-productivity work-groups was that more of the latter encouraged employee participation in the making of decisions. Even in the area of child-rearing practices there is some evidence of the values of giving children an opportunity to participate in matters concerning the entire family. In this connection, Baldwin, Kalhorn, and Breese (17) found that in those families characterized as democratic the child was given adequate opportunity to express his own views, he was consulted about questions of policy, and his opinions were given the same consideration as those of an adult. Six years after their hyped weight loss, most contestants had not only regained almost all their weight, but a study found that their metabolisms had also slowed dramatically. They had employed what are often called extreme weight loss methods, but even normal dieting could have led to the same result. Hypothalamic control exists to resist change (bringing us back to homeostasis), so as extensive research demonstrates, the same process happens any time body fat stores are reduced, regardless of how the weight was lost. If you've dieted, think about your own experience. You reduced your calories and maybe you also started or amped up an exercise routine. Whether you went low-carb, low-fat, or low-sugar, the beginning stages probably were pretty heady as you watched the needle drop on the scale.