I am 5 feet 11 inches tall and I weigh about 130 pounds and I know that in the minds of some, I am in no position to talk about weight loss. Well, I’ll take my chances. The thing is that while I have never had problems per se with my own weight, I do have some thoughts about other people’s experiences with trying to shed the pounds.
You’ve probably heard the idea that losing weight is not about a diet, but a lifestyle change. That lifestyle change might include eating differently, exercising more, and/or getting regular check-ups. I would agree. However, my perspective is one that expands upon this idea. If one’s goal is to lose weight, I believe that an attempt to alter behaviors without a kind of reconditioning of the mind is not likely to yield lasting results. This perspective, then, considers the relationship between mind and body.
For the record, I could be writing this about any number of issues, and/or habits, but overeating in particular, for many people, result in being overweight. In our society, there remain some erroneous assumptions about people who are overweight. We think that overweight people are so because they are lazy and don’t care about their bodies. We think that people who are overweight simply eat too much and can/should simply stop it. I don’t believe this is the case, which is why I don’t believe one can achieve a goal of weight loss from the body if there has not been a “weight loss” from the mind.
Let me share my major or umbrella assumption about being overweight.
Being overweight in the body is a manifestation of being “overweight/ weighted down” in the mind.
Be clear, this is not to say that those of us who are thin or appear to be more physically fit are in perfect harmony either. We have our “stuff” too, but as I alluded to earlier, when you are overweight, your “stuff” is just a bit more visible, and, unfortunately, that sometimes mean being the subject for scrutiny by those ever-present societal induced stigmas. The problem is that the real “stuff” with people who are overweight is not simply the weight itself. If it were, then those who know that their weight is creating physical health problems, limiting their abilities and opportunities, and diminishing their overall quality of life would just do something about it and drop the weight.
Well, many people do attempt to do something about it. They try various diets and begin exercising. Many people have experienced great results, met their weight loss goals only to hit a place and regain the weight plus some. How is it you suppose that happens? My theory, concocted of the many integrated ideas from the many brilliant minds and relational thinkers in the overarching field of mental and emotional well-being, is that people don’t drop weight from the body and keep it off the body until they attend to their mind-emotional wellness. Changes in behavior, (i.e. eating differently, exercising) alone do not equal the kind of transformative results that many seek.
Being overweight in a physical sense can oftentimes be a reflection of someone’s emotional/mental well-being. The mind and body are connected, so it makes sense that to attend to one and not to the other would not be the most useful to us. There are many experiences, thoughts, feelings, and emotions connected to the reasons people overeat. Oftentimes people overeat to relieve pain, worry, frustration, shame, guilt, or to even shield them from these things.
The key is finding a healthy balance. I believe it starts with an acknowledgment of one’s real experience of the messages from life they’ve begun to “wear” as a result of the subsequent meaning that she/he has placed on those messages. It starts with an honest examination of the “weight” one has given certain messages and experiences. I refer to this as “voluntary weight gain” in the mind and spirit. You don’t shed that weight by avoiding or shielding yourself. Instead, you do so through acknowledgment and finding ways to unpack the “weight” that honor your whole being.
If this fits for you or someone you know and love, pass it on and be encouraged.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.