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Mind and body work as one in shedding pounds

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

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 ln_dunn@yahoo.com.

Comments

Black_Falcon 2 years, 7 months ago

I enjoyed your article. I, too, believe that the mind and body are inherently intertwined. It is my belief that the honest self-reflecting which enables people to make the life style changes instead of the quick diets is hard for some people to do. It is hard for some people to be to be their own “worst” critic. It is much easier to explain some things away. The same phenomenon is also present as it relates to our state of mind and our finances. People with a lot of emotional baggage tend to have financial troubles as well. When the mind is not at peace, it seems that nothing is.

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Dunn 2 years, 7 months ago

@Black_Falcon: Thank you for reading and I appreciate your perspective. I think that you are absolutely correct. This idea is applicable to a number of personal issues we face and the matter of finances is certainly one of them. In keeping with your thought that "when the mind is not at peace, it seems nothing is", I believe that disarray in areas of our lives can serve as a kind of signal or alarm for us that, perhaps, we've gotten off balance in our minds. In this way, we can notice and hopefully take steps to do something about it, you know? :) Black_Falcon, thanks again and feel free to email me directly for quicker reponses. Take care.--LaTonya

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coachjohnson42 2 years, 7 months ago

Im sorry, I love most of your sections, but I refuse to take advice about losing weight from a person 5'11 , 130lbs.....Now if you were 5'11, 330 lbs and you lost 200lbs, then we can talk....Its kinda like taking a advice from a cat, on how to be a dog.....

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Dunn 2 years, 5 months ago

Hello @coachjohnson42,

I apologize for this delayed response. Most of the time people email me directly which makes it easier for me to reply in a timely manner. I am not sure if you will even get this reply, however, let me begin by thanking you for your perspective and for your appreciation of most of my articles. Certainly, I do not make the mistake of thinking that everyone will embrace my perspective all of the time, and so, I appreciate those that are different.

To speak to your comment in particular, I want to point out that I specifically wrote at the end of the column that "if this fits for you or someone you love...." with that is my intention not to speak as an authority on weight loss, but to offer other possibilities that may or may not fit for those who took the opportunity to read it. Additionally, I work with many people who present with a number of different issues that I have not necessarily experienced myself. If it were necessary for me to share an experience with someone in order to be helpful to that person, I would have to have been addicted to drugs, been raped, been divorced, had children, grieved the loss of a parent, child,etc. I do not have to be an expert in your life or experience, because you are. I am, however, trained to help people bring about change in their lives. I know something about how to facilitate change regardless of the concerns people have, including those around weight.

Thank you again, @coachjohnson42, for your comment and feel free to email directly in the future.

LaTonya

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