Lose The Emotional Weight

Have you ever set a goal to heal your health by losing weight? Many of my clients mention wanting to ‘feel lighter’ without considering there are both literal and metaphorical ways to achieve that desire. However, only one of those methods is sustainable.

How Diet Culture Persuades Us

Diet culture sells us the myth that calm and peace are feelings reserved for thin bodies only. We internalize this messaging any number of explicit or implicit ways. It could have been the way your mother modeled her own body dissatisfaction, or a peer in gym class commenting that your body was the reason you were rejected from the team. Others may find themselves prey to diet culture as an outcome of overwhelming childhood pain. Regardless of the circumstance, if your nervous system is programmed to believe your body is not a safe place to be, that is a form of trauma.

‘Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.’

Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Literal Weight Loss

These attempts to control warning signs show up in the way dieters will deny their hunger and/or cope with their discomfort by binging. They will exercise when their body is asking for rest and push beyond their limits to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions. They will hide under oversized clothing and hinge their self-confidence on the most recent insult or compliment they received. Even if weight loss is achieved, the fear it might return makes the heaviness remain. 

Diet culture keeps us stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy of thinking we’re deeply flawed and taking actions that confirm that belief. It’s a burdensome cycle to be trapped in that leads us further and further away from our ‘undamaged essence’, as van der Kolk refers to it:

‘A Self that is confident, curious, and calm, a Self that has been sheltered from destruction by the various protectors that have emerged in their efforts to ensure survival. Once those protectors trust that it is safe to separate, the Self will spontaneously emerge, and the parts can be enlisted in the healing process’

Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Emotional Weight Loss

Physical heaviness is just the superficial layer. In order to begin healing your health on a deeper level, you must be willing to get to the underlying reason, or reasons, why you feel ‘heavy’. There are 3 key elements to doing this work.

  1. Shift your mindset from one of self-judgment to curiosity

A curious mindset fosters possibility as opposed to limitation; love versus fear. It creates safety for the parts of you you’d like to evolve to still be there while you work towards becoming your future healed self. Rather than resisting what is, you practice acceptance and that allows necessary change to take place.

  1. Learn how to show yourself compassion

Normalize your current reality. Acknowledge the systemic constructs and social conditioning (diet culture, your circle of influence, etc.) that have impacted your relationship with food and your body. You unintentionally adopted external beliefs as your own, but now you have a choice in whether you keep them or not.

  1. Expand your capacity to experience the spectrum of human emotions

Healing your past to create a healthier future requires confronting baggage you’d sometimes rather not look at. Until now, you’ve used numbing agents to cope with feeling uncomfortable. When you accept that unpleasant emotions are simply energy moving through the body (and also a sign that growth is happening!), your willingness to process them becomes your greatest superpower. Try shifting from the narrative your brain has attached to the emotion to instead witnessing the physical sensations of heat, tension, stiffness, etc.

Embarking on the healing journey is not intended to be done alone. When you work with me, you will improve your energy, your sleep, your diet but ALSO your motivation to continue your journey of self-discovery. You learn about your triggers, and reframe how you can work with these to your advantage. If you’re ready for support with losing the emotional weight, I’ll invite you to consider one-on-one coaching with me

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