There’s so much to talk about when it comes to weight! In Part 1 of this article, I went over several reasons why we can have a very challenging time with weight – gaining, losing, and maintaining. Let’s continue our overview of this extremely important issue of weight. Why? Because we can be so hurt on the inside, on a soul level, when we don’t weigh what we think we’re supposed to weigh. Truth is we have no idea what any of us is supposed to weigh exactly.
Weight issues can get our attention, make us vulnerable, human, and humble. They can also cause us, if we’re willing to listen, to search, to feel, to journey, to explore and grow, and to build character. Allowing ourselves to slow down, relax, forgive, and listen to our bodies with love is a gift. If you were to slow down and listen, what would your extra weight and body fat be telling you? What would it say? What does it need and want from you?
Many of us may actually have a fear of pleasure and a disassociation from receiving, which is a primary contributor to weight issues. Our extra body fat and weight may be saying that it is there as a protection for us from being hurt. For women, this may translate as a protection from men, sexual advances, and a history of sexual abuse which led directly to weight gain. Of course, this can also be true for men as well. Understanding and working through the body’s message of wanting to protect us is much more on target with authentic weight change versus going on a starvation diet! Healing and transformation happens when we’re able to trust again! Starving ourselves and/or excessive working out only instills further punishment and hurt!
Some of us are shut down, disembodied, or in fear around sexuality. When not following a very low calorie diet, food can become our only seemingly safe pleasure as a way to avoid sexual fears. Until the core issue of sexuality is addressed, the weight will stay on. Certainly we can all lose weight through punishing diets and exercise. We can all get that temporary high and ego boost from such weight loss. But, generally speaking, those highs are temporary blips that are not sustainable. Eventually we’re brought back to the struggle, self-attack, and dissatisfaction once we drop our guard and no longer maintain a highly controlled diet.
In short, an unconscious pattern of ambivalence can develop within us. One part of us truly wants to lose weight and we’ll make all sorts of efforts to do so. The other part of us lives in fear of losing weight because it means getting attention and potentially being prone to more sexual advances. This back and forth can lead us to feeling frustrated, down, angry, hopeless, and hatred and mistrust of self. Starting over by mindfully dropping these negative feelings, and beginning to listen to our body and what it is doing and why, can lead to real solutions and outcomes.
Money and work is often another key factor in weight gain. Many of us get stuck in jobs we can’t stand. Our bosses are bullies, the job is dull and/or is on a dead-end track, the commute to work is difficult, the position is not what we were trained to do, the demands of work cause us to lose sleep, the paycheck barely covers the bills, the hours are too long, etc., can all lead to a very toxic experience. The day-in and day-out stress and upset around work can very easily lead us to poor eating habits, stress-induced weight gain, and a reliance on food for happiness. In these situations, it’s critical to dive into our work life and look for openings and possible options. Ignoring the situation will only lead to added stress and a continuation of weight gain.
Whether about unresolved issues around sexuality, work, or whatever, anger, disappointment, and lack of forgiveness are 3 powerful reasons why many hang onto weight we don’t need. It’s therefore critical to look at who or what we’re angry at, what has disappointed us, and whom we haven’t forgiven in our lives. Understandably, if we’re angry at someone for hurting us, it may feel next to impossible to forgive them. What's important to keep in mind regarding forgiveness is that not forgiving actually causes OUR hurt and stress to continue. Angry memories, ruminating, hating, all turn on our physiologic stress response which will without doubt cause fat gain and muscle loss. Even attempting to forgive someone who has done harm by being willing to look at their circumstances, history, background, and trying to understand why they may have done what they did, is a first, big step. Forgiving ultimately leads to our own self-healing, and empowerment.
Moreover, personal power equals metabolic power! Empowering ourselves in different ways while becoming more authentic and who we truly can be gives our metabolism the greatest probability to reach the place where it can be at its highest potential!
So, back to the questions posed at the end of “Nourishment for the Soul, Heart, & Body” – Part 1: What would it be like if we stopped fighting our body fat, insulting ourselves, and started loving instead? What might we be able to discover and do for ourselves with all that extra, freed up energy? Answer: We very well may be able to go for and reach our highest goal of being the fullest and healthiest expression of who we can possibly be on planet Earth, what we came here to be, accomplish, and learn! We might see putting the goal of weight loss as a secondary goal; meaning it would be wonderful and great to lose weight, but ultimate happiness is not dependent upon it.
Rather than how much weight we’ve lost, our real success could be measured by how much we embrace life, open up, relax, embody, experience pleasure, feel nourished by food, let go of old attachments, hurts and wounds, find forgiveness and a greater sense of purpose and mission. Unleashing our creativity, sexuality, and authenticity opens us up to self-love and loving others, heals unfinished business in relationships and with parents, and learns to love the body right now as it is. When we stop fighting the body, hating it for being overweight, hiding our love and light, saving our fullest expression for when we have “the perfect body” and holding back from our fullest creative and emotional expression because of the false belief that everything will be perfect when we have the perfect weight, then true and lasting bodily transformation can happen.
M. David, The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, & Weight Loss (Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2005)
M. David, Nourishing Wisdom: A Mind, Body Approach to Nutrition and Well-Being (New York: Random House, 1991)
M. David, Institute for the Psychology of Eating – Professional Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training, 2014, Mod. 2 – Weight Loss Clients
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