This was the second Nu-Lax wrapper I’d found stashed into the side of the pantry this week. I thought about the chocolate wrappers and empty chip packets stuffed into the door of her car and handbag.
That handbag, literally bursting at the seams, was an evident metaphor for the way she treated her body and carried it around.
Overstuffed. Tired. Too much.
A tell-tale sign of something bubbling below the surface.
A secret fear of being unloved and the dread of being alone led her to cling tightly to everything and everyone.
Clothes, sizes too small, never worn hanging in her closet.
I’ll get into them one day, you’ll see.
Supermarket receipts and expired vouchers squashed desperately into her wallet.
I might need them one day.
A strained marriage that had long past its expiry date.
It’ll be better once I lose the weight.
Excess weight was her security blanket. A subcutaneous suit of armour protecting her scared heart from the things she craved most.
Easy love. Validation. Sanctuary. Belonging.
She wore her baggage on the outside.
It slowed her down, it tired her out and it kept her stuck. The perfect alibi for a sad, heavy and stagnant existence.
Sometimes we hold on for way too long.
To excuses, friendships, marriages, jobs, old habits, stuff, ideals and mental roadmaps.
We eat our words. Choke back anger. Pile more onto our plates than we can handle. Stuff it down. Suppress the desire for change. Feed the fear. Fuel the fire. Thrive on the so-called safety that keeps is small. Stay when we know we should go.
Most of the time we’re blissfully unaware of the symbiotic link between our inner and outer worlds and the symbolism that they manifest in each sector of our lives.
Pantries and deep freezers filled to the brim with food, some beyond expiration date. Cupboards loaded with random items, unused appliances still in boxes and things we have no intention of using but keep just in case. Wardrobes stuffed full of clothes that don’t fit and old outfits that remind us of times when we felt good.
We over-buy, over-stock and over-eat in an effort to over-compensate for the things that will bring us true fulfilment. Hanging on to physical items gives our unaddressed emotions presence. It brings them to life and makes them tangible. The perfect scapegoat for us to pin excuses to.
As insightfully put by Louise Hay, dis-ease stems from emotional imbalance (in most cases), and as easily dismissed as this theory is, consider the fact that you can’t ‘see’ stress but it gives rise to many dis-eases that are killing us in spades.
I’ve had clients look at me dumbfounded when I start a session with:
”Just for this half-hour I want you to talk about how you feel about your body, no justifying it, and then I want you to talk about how you want to feel about your body.”
And I do it because here’s what I know to be true:
Tell yourself you look like a whale in that dress and you’ll never look in the mirror with profound respect for the vessel that keeps you alive.
Berate yourself for letting your legs get that big and you’ll never appreciate the way they’re always carrying you forward despite your disgust at the sight of them.
Slap the sagging, soft skin on your stomach while whining that you’ll never wear a bikini on the beach again, and you’ll never fully appreciate the vastness and power of your inner intelligence.
Emotions and issues can come to the surface in the form of food cravings. One by one they move forward into the light, asking for our attention. The more intense the emotion, the more out-of-control the craving appears.
Food itself carries energy and mood-altering properties, not unlike those found in drugs. We eat to experience what we want to feel, albeit temporary.
In control. Fulfilled. Satisfied.
Distorted weight and body image don’t just appear because we want to feel attractive. Our struggles with self-esteem don’t manifest because we crave to be feel powerfully feminine. These things exist because instead of addressing the emotions and reasons that block us from feeling the way we want to feel, we push them down and numb out.
Eating isn’t merely the act of chewing, swallowing and digesting. It is a complex process which subconsciously taps into your deep-rooted self-image, food habits and mental conditioning.
Your and your body are not purely a sum of what you eat minus how much you sweat. Calories are a tool designed to distract you from really getting in-tune with what your body needs from you. And more often than not, what your body needs is for you to listen to her.
The main things that interfere with our ability to tune in are our:
+ Emotional state.
Do you feel balanced? Out of sync? Unheard?
+ Mental state.
Stop for a minute and listen to your self-talk. What are you telling yourself?
+ Environmental distractions.
Check out your immediate environment. Are you surrounded by ‘stuff’? Is your house, bedroom, car or desk cluttered and full? Can you navigate and find things easily? Is it clear and spacious?
Wading through emotional waters is hard work that tempts us to turn our focus outwards. Instead of ‘doing the real work’, we show up at the gym religiously, sweat off kilos on stationary bikes and then spend too long fidgeting around the supermarket, driving ourselves insane over which low calorie brand of yoghurt is better for us.
Let me tell you this beautiful: it doesn’t make a measurable bit of difference in the long run. Yes, your waistline may get smaller but your headspace is still the same and you’ll find your sweet self back at the beginning.
Years ago I took on a client, who in our first session declaring she’d struggled with her weight her whole life and announced that she was having gastric band surgery. I suggested we work together more intensely, switch her mindset and really dive deeper. I also made it clear I would need her full commitment for this. She refused.
Her point? Healing underlying issues was too simplistic to be effective.
Post-surgery the weight gain climbed again. She confessed to me while laughing that her breakfast of choice was drinking custard, and that it was the bands fault she chose to eat it. Her change in size was noticeable but she’d learnt nothing and was heading right back to the beginning.
This rings true in many areas of our lives. Until we really work with the thoughts that create our reality we’ll continuously attract circumstances that reveal those lessons to us.
Think about how many times you’ve been in different relationships only to have them end the same way. Friendships that leave you feeling pressured to behave a certain way and questioning yourself. Work relationships that have you feeling drained and overlooked, so we change jobs only to have the same feelings follow us.
+ Make a list of the things that you are holding onto right now that no longer serve your highest good.
+ For each, write a short sentence about how carrying the weight of this affects you on each level; spiritual, mental, emotional and physical.
+ Acknowledge your role in facilitating this and release those thoughts.
Allow repressed emotions and issues to come to the surface. See them for what they are. Hear them out. Give them what they need:
Attention. Acknowledgement. Love. A new perspective.
And then release them.
This kind of internal work is avoided by many because it requires you to really show up, willingly look your fears in the eye and make peace with those parts of yourself before you can begin to feel lighter.
The more you work with letting go of what weighs you down the more at ease you will begin to feel. Your mindset will shift and your approach to nourishment will be based on deep-seated love and gratitude for your body.
Over to you lovely.
What do you struggle with when it comes to matters of weight, body-image and self-esteem? Leave your insights and any pearls of wisdom for working through these in the comments.
+ There will be an in-depth resource for release work and mind-body reconnection up soon.
++ A meditation for releasing will also be available for those of you who like to feel it out rather than write it out.