Weight is most often perceived to be a problem in and of itself, whether one is overweight or underweight. You have a problem with food, you eat too much or too little, you’re too fat, you’re out of control, you’re a pig, and you’re starving yourself. It’s my belief that weight issues don’t just appear out of nowhere, just because a person has difficulty with food, that’s a gross oversimplification of a very complicated matter. Weight issues are a symptom of something important that’s going on within the psyche, much like alcoholism, substance abuse or other maladaptive behaviours that we take on as a cry for help. And just like other manifestations of inner pain, weight is something that needs to be dealt with in a timely manner before the symptom itself actually kills you.
Indeed, time and weight issues are intricately connected. Time moves in only one direction, forward, standing still for no one. The inside parts of a watch are called the movement for a reason and are constantly active, whirring and spinning with forward motion, keeping time. Just like the watch, our mental and emotional insides need to keep moving to keep up with the times, to keep us healthy. Staying present and moving forward take really hard work, they require energy and energy burns off that unnecessary baggage, whether it’s a surplus of fat or excess emotional garbage. Living in the now with an eye to forward motion through time also requires courage because without foresight, we have no idea what the outcome will be. So for many folks, it’s just easier, less energy consuming and way less frightening to look backwards instead of forwards in our lives, wrapped in the residue of the past which often take the form of weight issues.
When we spend a lot of time looking backwards at our past with regret, shame, guilt or other toxic thoughts and emotions, we stagnate; we stop our internal clocks from advancing. We languish whenever we spend most of our time trying to relive the past, mend it, regret it wish and/or wish it had been different. We remember when we were thinner, happier, what worked for us way back when. We try desperately to recreate a past experience in our current lives; after all if it worked then, it should work now, right? It’s really not that simple. We fail to take into account that time has moved forward and whether we like it or not, we are not the same person we were then. Our bodies are different, older; our mental, physical and emotional needs have changed as has our perspective on life. There may be mental blocks that need to be cleared before fluidity and ease can return to our lives. When we try to manage our weight without looking at the internal cause of the symptom itself, it’s rather like trying to run down an up escalator, you have to work twice as hard to get where you want to go, it feels wrong and eventually we get tired and give up and go back to our old patterns of eating and self-comfort.
Sometimes we eat to comfort ourselves in the face of loneliness, past abuse, fear or just plain boredom. We stuff our emotions down with food for a reason, it feels good. Food tastes good; food comforts us when loving arms are absent. For many, food is love. One client told me that her excess weight is like a filter. Shallow, judgmental people aren’t interested in her, she said. It’s easy for her to tell who is truly a good person based on their reaction to her. Food and excess weight are great excuses not move forward with our lives therefore becoming a terrible catch twenty two; we gain weight because we are blocked and can’t move forward and then we are too overweight to have enough energy to move forward and unblock ourselves. We wait for the ball to drop, for something really big to happen, for rescue, quick and painless. Perhaps the words weight and wait are homonyms for a reason!
When we don’t allow for the free forward motion of our minds, bodies and emotions we effectively place ourselves in hibernation. Like a bear, we store fat, our metabolism slows significantly and we hunker down in a den deep enough for us to hide from the bitter cold of loneliness or despair waiting for the storm to abate. Storing fat is protection against the cold (isolation) and keeps the body nourished during the times when food (love/comfort) is scarce. Sounds pretty good, if you’re a bear. Trouble is we’re just not built that way. Mental and emotional hibernation are just as toxic to our bodies as a physical refusal to take action, to exercise and burn off stored fat. If we dig a big enough hole, we don’t have to face the future; we have an excuse for not making new friends, for not going on vacation, for not having sex, for not looking for a new job, for not moving on with our lives…we can just sit, waiting. We wait for the right time to get a new job, to get married, to have a baby. We wait until the kids are older, until we feel comfortable, until the time is right. What is the right time though? How can we possibly know what the right time is when time doesn’t stand still and we can’t see into the future? We can only live in the present. We have choices; we can make it the right time by simply deciding not to wait any longer for a future time that we have no power over, for weight to magically melt off like snow in a spring thaw. We can make it the right time by refusing to live in the past, weighted down by what went before and has long since departed.
We don’t have a clue if spring will come the moment we choose to take that first step outside the cozy little den we have created for ourselves. We might actually have to really exert ourselves to dig up some nasty, bitter pills from our past and release them. We might have to do some serious forgiving or even take full responsibility for creating a present tense for ourselves. We may have to face the fact that the method we used to reduce our weight in the past just isn’t going to cut it this time around. We can do all the dieting and exercise we want, but until we start exercising the mental and emotional parts of our bodies, consciously choosing to burn off past hurts and conflicts and allowing ourselves to come out of our self-imposed hibernation to face the forward motion of time, weight is always going to be an issue. So, take the time you need to discover your inner demons, to practice exercising your mind and exorcising your past and relinquish your attachment to personal history and move on to a brighter, healthier now. What are you weighting for?