Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Spiritual Approach To Weight Loss

When I was a personal trainer, I worked with many people who hoped to lose unwanted weight (or perceived excess weight). Women, in particular, struggled with their body perception. They constantly compared their bodies to others, and they could not understand why they weren't losing weight.

More often than not their reasons to lose weight had to do with vanity rather than health. They wanted the flat tummies they had pre-children. They didn't want their husbands straying from the marriage because they had gained weight. They were the ugly ducklings in high school who had an upcoming reunion and they wanted to exact their revenge. The list could go on and on.

I realized that these women were stuck in a negative body image cycle; there were deeper issues at play. They lacked a spiritual approach to fitness. As part of their physical routine, I'd give them a spiritual prescription to follow.

1. Change your perspective on weight gain or issues. We have been conditioned to believe that weight gain is a negative thing. We want to zap it as quickly as we can. Weight gain is nothing more than your body getting your attention. Are you leading a stressed lifestyle? What is your current relationship with food? Do you need to administer more self-love and less self-judgment? If you are looking at your current weight as something despicable or disgusting, the weight is not the issue. Instead, it is your reaction to the issue that is causing the weight gain. Weight gain usually means you are insulating yourself from something else. From what (or whom) are you protecting yourself? Use this as an opening into showing you what you may need on a deeper level. This calls for you to go inward to examine what changes need to be made on an emotional and spiritual level.

2. Keep a food diary. Tracking our food intake not only tracks what we eat and when we eat, but why we eat. It can also show why we are not eating. Note your emotions when you eat. It will show you what kind of relationship you have with food. Do you find yourself eating whenever you get off the phone with your mother? Or after you've had a fight with your spouse? Do you find yourself snacking because you are bored? Do you find yourself not eating because of stress from work or home? Take an honest look at your eating patterns and the emotions behind the eating. These are clues into the bigger issues in your life that need addressing.

3. Use positive affirmations. The best defense you have against failing is to create the right mental attitude. Every time you tell yourself you feel fat, you are reinforcing a negative image and the negative vibration associated with that image. Negative thinking can greatly affect the body's ability to metabolize food; it stresses the body by releasing "stress hormones" (cortisol) into your system, thus reducing your body's ability to perform effectively. If you have a negative attitude toward working out, you're actually causing more stress on your system.

Instead, move forward in your thinking through the use of positive "I AM" statements. These statements will shift your energy and move you toward feeling healthier, lighter, and freer. It's important to focus on what you want, not on what you don't want, so keep them in the present tense (example: "I am making healthy meal choices," rather that "I am not eating unhealthy food anymore"). "I AM" statements can be said aloud or written down, but they must be practiced every day to be effective. It takes between 21 - 30 days for new habits to develop.

As we use affirmations, the brain actually creates new neural pathways for these thoughts to travel to help you create a new you. Losing weight is not about running away from your weight; it's about loving your body and understanding its needs. You created it through your choices. Now it's a matter of reframing those choices in a more positive light. Weight loss is more than calories in, calories out.

4. Make your mirror your new best friend. Do you find yourself avoiding your image in the mirror? Or, when you do catch a glance of yourself, do you give yourself a critical look? If your best friend were walking down the street, would you ignore him or her? No, of course you wouldn't. You'd say hello and exchange pleasantries or make plans. Why ignore yourself? Your mirror is not the enemy. Make friends with it. Practice your affirmations in front of it, looking yourself in the eye. Get intimate with the person looking back at you. Notice all of your positive features. See that person as a beautiful creation, a one of a kind design, a once-in-a-lifetime being. Smile back at yourself and show yourself some love.

5. Use the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT is an effective technique to release unconscious blocks, past emotions, or buried traumas. It involves tapping various points of your body and takes only a few minutes. More specifically, it is a form of psychological acupressure based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture, only without the use of needles, while voicing positive affirmations to remove any emotional blocks. You can read more about it on Kathy Hadley's page, which includes a tutorial video, or you can visit the EFT page for more extensive information. This technique will help you to release any resistance you have toward reaching your goal.  See video below to help you better understand.


6.  Love and accept yourself unconditionally. Believing that life will be better once you lose weight is a trap. Thinking that something is wrong with you because your body doesn't compare to others robs you of truly living in the moment. Instead, be grateful and truly appreciate what you have. See yourself as the beautiful, deserving, worthy, lovable creation that you are; this is how the Universe created you. Be kind to and gentle with yourself. Read my post on self-love for ways to help you open up to unconditional love.

We all want to live more fully and authentically, and sometimes we think that losing weight is the answer. We think it will make us more confident, more attractive, more loving, or more fun. But we can be those things without losing weight by addressing our emotional and spiritual needs first. As we resolve those issues, we remove unwanted blocks within ourselves, and we find that losing weight simply becomes an added benefit. Taking care of ourselves requires more than just burning fat cells. When we uncover the underlying reasons for wanting to lose weight, most times we will find that vanity (ego in disguise) is the culprit. Shifting our perception about weight and body image from one of dread to one of self-discovery and self-love allows us to approach life from a more holistic and enlightened point of view.


If you have anything to add, please feel free to share your thoughts below.

19 comments:

  1. Dear Penny,

    This is a GREAT post and I plan to share it. I love how you covered every issues pertaining to weight and body image, body, mind and spirit.

    And thank you so much for the mention and link.

    :-)

    Kathy

    kathyhadleylifecoach.com

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    1. Yes, Debbie. I find it that it centers me and helps me to stay focused on my goals. I do it in the morning prior to meditation. Let me know how it turns out for you.

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