Whether we like it or not, the topic of weight is prevalent this time of the year. Maybe it is your New Year’s Resolution, or maybe you want to start preparing for the summer. Regardless of the goal, this is a great time to focus on our health and fitness.
One aspect that we usually don’t talk about, in regards to fitness, is our emotional health. Weight loss is a science, and a relatively easy concept to understand, which is why so many of us choose dieting or exercising as the solution. We want energy output to be greater than energy input. However, it is not that simple because of the complex association between the body and the mind. Many of us struggle with our weight and end up losing motivation when our emotions are not considered.
By exploring even just one emotional component to weight, we can greatly increase our chances of success. Not only will we achieve better outcomes, we can find it much easier to make changes, rather than fighting an up-hill battle every step of the way.
The Function of Fat
Even though we may not like the extra fat on our body, what would it take to see it in a positive way? Just by changing our mental association with fat, we can create a powerful shift within ourselves.
The body is designed to adapt to stress of all kinds, including physical ones like parasites and toxins, environmental stressors like extreme temperatures, and mental and emotional stressors like fear, anger, and shame. When we get a foreign invader, often our body responds by raising its temperature to kill it off. When we get too hot, our body responds by perspiring. If we take notice of all the amazing things our body does to support us, we will discover that every bodily response serves a helpful, protective function.
So what is positive and helpful about weight gain? We all know the health risks associated with increased weight. But if we study the body’s intelligent design, we discover that there are many benefits of having fat in the body. Adipose tissue (fat) offers insulation and padding for our skin and internal organs, as well as energy and nutrient storage. So if our body is over-storing and over-protecting, there may be thoughts and emotions convincing the body that this is a necessary function for safety and survival. Situations that may trigger this protective function may possibly include:
- A deep need for love and comfort that has not been met. The fat is creating the sense of comfort.
- A sense that you are not emotionally safe. The body goes into ‘protection mode’ if you are failing to protect yourself by staying silent, not establishing boundaries, and not meeting your own needs.
- A sense that you are not in control of your life. Eating is a behavior that ONLY you can control.
- A way to insulate energetic toxins like anger, fear, grief, and shame just as it insulates other toxins. When emotional healing is not done, these emotions must be dealt with in some way.
Who’s In Control Here?
If we do not take control over our emotional health, the body is left to respond to these deeper held thoughts, beliefs, and feelings in a physical way. If we are only addressing the physical layers to weight loss, then our bodies will be working against us, trying to undo what has been done when it disrupts a protective function. Even though you may very badly wish to be thinner, healthier, and have more energy, your highly intelligent body-mind will not allow this when it has a higher need for survival and emotional safety.
In the book, The Body Keeps the Score, author Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. shares extensive information on how the mind affects the body. In one instance, he related how several women who were in a weight loss program had serious trauma as a child or teenager, usually sexual abuse. This was found to be very common. The mind was protecting the body by putting an insulation of fat around it.
Maintaining a healthy weight means that the body-mind can remain in a place where it does not need a sense of safety and protection. At Herbs4You, we are committed to addressing all the layers involved in your health and wellness goals. Make this the year that you fully commit to YOURSELF and discover the amazing things that will unfold in your life!
We’re here to help YOU!
Laura Brudvig, MA, NCC, IHAP, LC
About the Author
Laura Brudvig MA, NCC, IHAP, LC
Integrative Healing Arts Practitioner
Laura completed her Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from USD. She is a National Certified Counselor, Life Coach, and Integrative Healing Arts Practitioner. She is currently working towards her certification as an Herbalist from the HomeGrown Herbalist School of Botanical Medicine.