If you’ve ever experienced abuse, neglect or trauma you developed an unconscious belief that you weren’t safe in your body and the world was a dangerous place. Your body rushed to your defense and did what it could to protect you from being vulnerable. If you’re like many abuse survivors, there’s a good chance that you have been carrying around excess weight. There’s no shame in that and there’s no cause for judgment. You haven’t done anything wrong. Weight gain is just proof that the rules of physics apply.
As an abuse and incest survivor, I spent years hating my body and feeling deeply ashamed for being overweight. I never thought of the fat on my body as being anything other than just proof that I had no self-control around food. As a coach, I’ve since learned that our bodies reflect our thoughts and the way we feel about ourselves and our lives. If like me, you felt powerless over your life, you may have also used food to build a suit of armor. To take off that suit of armor and release the extra weight that you’ve accumulated over the years, you have to recognize the purpose that those extra layers of skin and fat have served for you. There are really good reasons why you have been overeating. But in order to break the cycle that keeps you using food for comfort, you have to learn how to become your own nurturer. That means you need to know how your excess weight has been serving you emotionally so that you can figure out ways that you can satisfy that same need without jeopardizing your health.
Your body is brilliant and it knows exactly what you need and it will give it to you. When you fall down and scrape your knee, your blood and cells coagulate to to form a scab. This protects you against infection and speed the healing. Your emotional needs are also cared for by your body. Some of us wear our battle scars on the outside, but others carry their hurts on the inside. It may not be obvious to anyone looking, but your body is showing the signs of where your emotional distress originated.
Think about where your fat is on your body. Is it on your face, neck, across your arms, back, chest, legs, or evenly distributed making you heavier all over? Is it concentrated in one area, maybe on your thighs making you a pear shape? Or does it manifest in your stomach and abdomen area where the rolls of fat cover your genitals? Where is your excess weight?
Where do you carry your armor? Yes. Let’s think for a moment of your extra fat as being like a suit of armor. The late Louise Hay was considered to be the queen of self-esteem. Growing up she was abused by a step father who beat and tortured Louise and her mother. By the age of 5 she was raped by a neighbor. She lived through some very harrowing life experiences that included a teenage pregnancy, poverty, a cheating husband and a cancer diagnosis. In the early 70’s she had a realization that there was more to life than feeling like a victim. She began pursuing a journey of discovery that led her to change her thoughts and heal her body.
In 1976 she wrote her first book; a pamphlet containing a list of different diseases in the body and their likely metaphysical causes. That little blue book later went on to sell 40 million copies and became her bestselling book, You Can Heal Your Life™ In the book she explains that there are really just two mental patterns that create disease in our body; anger and fear.
In 1977 her beliefs were put to the test when she was diagnosed with incurable cervical cancer. Based on all that she was learning, she came to the conclusion that her illness was partially caused by the resentment she held against those who had abused and raped her. She refused medical treatment and instead pursued alternative medicine in the form of reflexology, nutrition and colonic enemas. She started going to therapy and learning how to forgive. She ended up beating cancer.
In her book, You Can Heal Your Life™ she speaks about the armor of extra weight our body can accumulate as an unconscious effort to deal with unresolved anger and fears.
According to Hay, where you carry your weight speaks volumes about the type of emotional pain you’re holding in your heart. She goes on to describe a variety of correlations between body parts and illnesses that in turn correspond to various emotional blocks within the body. She calls these probable causes, and offers new thought patterns to release the blocks. Here are some of the examples from her book,
Excess Weight on your arms – Anger at being denied love
Excess Weight on your belly – Anger at being denied nourishment
Hips – Lumps of stubborn anger at the parents
Thighs – Packed childhood anger. Often rage at the father
Ask yourself, “Does this feel true for me?” By learning to trust yourself, your body will give you everything you need.
Your Body Gives You All The Answers You Need
The heart, as part of your body, is electromagnetically charged and carries impulses to your brain and throughout your body. It communicates and offers vast stores of information that often go unnoticed or disregarded.
According to the science and technology known as, “Heart Math, you can reduce your levels of stress and anxiety by learning how to tap into your intuition.
Our bodies know what is best for us. Whenever something feels right or is true for you, you feel it first in your heart. Some people call this intuition or inner guidance. To my way of thinking, it’s all a way of accessing your soul’s higher intelligence. God, Buddha, Higher Power—no matter what you call it, it’s yours, and when you quiet the mental chatter in your thoughts, you can tap into that internal communication and wisdom anytime.
Try It! Finding Your Truth
Place a hand over your heart and slowly read aloud the following quote by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D. Repeat it several times.
“Every extra pound I carry on my body equals a pound of emotional pain I’m carrying in my heart.”
Keeping your hand on your heart, take some time to think about the words and what they mean to you. Notice what images or memories come to mind. What words or thoughts do you hear when you think about it? What feelings arise when you read those words? Now, with that new information, keep your hand over your heart and ask yourself, “Does this feel true to me?”
Now I want you to think about this. What has your body armor been protecting you from? If Dr. Virtue’s statement felt true for you, what would the emotional pain be that you carry on your body and in your heart?
If your body could talk, what would it say? If your thighs could ask for something, what would it be? What would your arms want to tell you? What message does your stomach have to share? Sounds stupid, I know, but your body has been trying to tell you something every time you ate when you knew you weren’t hungry. Isn’t it time that you listened?
Forgive yourself whenever you overeat and…
To begin the process of melting away your excess weight, you must recognize that your emotional eating is your body’s way of reacting to feeling threatened and unsafe. In order to reverse that powerful stress reaction, you need to nurture yourself and create feelings of safety and peace in your life. Whenever you overeat, be kind and compassionate with yourself. If you have a tendency to be critical and speak to yourself with hurtful words, be curious and kind as you question yourself each time you overeat. By taking a gentle non-judgmental approach, you will learn more about the situations and people that make you feel anxious and overwhelmed.
And there’s a little bit more to it. You also have to develop habits around nurturing yourself in other ways besides food. Some examples I teach my clients and use myself are getting comfortable with being more self-expressive. I’ve learned the powerful lesson that asking for what you want, and making requests of others to support you goes a long way to taking some of the daily burdens off of your back. I also swear by my practice of daily meditation. It calms me down in minutes and restores my ability to think clearly and make good decisions. Tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique is another go-to stress-relief method that I use daily and teach others.
It’s undeniable that change is the biggest constant in all of our lives. You do yourself a great kindness by taking time out of every day and doing whatever you can to learn how to be more resilient. By taking back your power and building a firm foundation of confidence you’ll be able to stand and face the hurricanes in your life and bounce back each time you fall. You may have been convinced that losing weight gives you confidence. While that may be true for the short term, the real formula for gaining confidence is pushing out of your comfort zone and doing things that you did not believe you could do. You will gain self-confidence with every small action you take. One of the most important things to do as a kindness to yourself is to let go of the pain from your past. As long as you are not in imminent danger, you can remind yourself that you are safe now and you can start to peel away those many layers of excess weight that has worked for you by giving you a sense of safety when you felt vulnerable.
Forgiveness is the greatest gift that you can ever give yourself. I urge you to practice this each and every time you overeat in order to create a new empowering habit of self-love and gentleness. On my FB Live tomorrow at 3:00 p.m., I’ll talk about what happened today and how I bounced back from a crazy moment of bingeing and why I urge you to be kind to yourself when you overeat. (Actually always, but most especially when you binge.)
Feeling the need to protect yourself from harm and always trying to shield yourself from being hurt creates a lot of anxiety and stress. Although food may have worked in the past, as we age, the consequences of habitual overeating can lead to poor health.
I understand how stressful it is to face a situation that overwhelms and frightens you. That’s why I want to offer to teach you some stress-relief tools that will put the power of choice back in your hands. Life is filled with twists and turns and many times the road we’re travelling is like a minefield; all bumps and ditches. If you don’t have tools to get yourself out of a negative thinking space, you can spend years trying to climb out of a hole.
Depression, grief, feeling betrayed, angry, hurt, shame–these are all emotions that feel like empty pits and ditches in our lives. They can sweep us off our feet and keep us twirling around endlessly, feeling lost and alone.
I wrote my book, “Lovin’ the Skin You’re In” to give you tools to get back up, dust yourself off and stand firmly in your power. That book is my love letter to you reminding you how powerful you are. At 464 pages, it’s an empowerment bible. I’m on a mission to empower 10.5 million women to love and respect themselves and recognize their value so they can go after their dreams. Have you gotten your copy? Click here for the free download: