The Mind Body-Fat Connection
Negative thoughts, symbolic protection, being who we really are …….. we’re definitely getting closer. It does come from within, we believe that much. But how? How do we connect a de-railed inner state of mind to real life obesity without the hocus pocus element?
We find the biological link. We find out where those resistive thoughts and feelings are going and what damage they are managing to do along the way. Or at least that is what I did!
The first time I heard that being fat was all in the mind, I was intrigued. “How exactly would that work”, I found myself asking.
A friend and I were casually chatting about being fat when he mentioned that he’d heard of a book describing weight gain as being a symbol of protection. Negative mental thought patterns were apparently responsible for making us all fat!
I wondered whether he was talking about psychologically symbolic or a real biological connection that affected our metabolism. I was searching for something deeper at the time because I had lost faith in the traditional concepts of obesity. The medical, sports and scientific worlds promoted concepts that seemed too broad and genetically unfair to apply to all of us here on earth. It seemed that every new diet plan and book held a new and revolutionary theory about how and why we all gain weight. Yet no one theory covered all situations and circumstances, like why we lose weight when we fall in love.
Intrigued that thoughts and feelings could be responsible for my weight, I threw myself into this belief. I practiced affirmations and searched deep within my mind for the mental triggers that could be influencing my body weight.
Although I celebrated this new concept and still do, I became disappointed and frustrated when I couldn’t pin point, precisely, which of my thoughts and feelings made my weight go up and down.
I could see my weight going up and down from one week to the next but I needed to know exactly how it was all made possible. “Where was the connection?” I asked myself, “How could a feeling influence fat?” I couldn’t hold any exact thought or feeling responsible, which meant that I could not intimately control it, as I so desired to do.
I went on wondering and speculating for two whole years before I fell happily pregnant. During the early months I started losing weight around my thighs, an area that had previously refused to budge no matter how strict a diet I went on or exercise program I took part in. I knew that I was changing on an inner level but once again, I could not pin point precisely which thoughts or feelings corresponded with my thighs.
After the birth of my child, I didn’t do what most new mothers do and accept to nurture the tender moments alone with their baby. I stood up, tired and exhausted and pushed myself back into my old life at the same time as juggling the demands of motherhood. A change of scene occurred with a move to a foreign country both culturally and fluently removed from my own which led me to start questioning who I really was. My weight, having not recovered fully from childbirth started slowly creeping upwards despite what I ate. A good strict diet curbed it for a moment but failed me the moment I hopped off it.
In the approaching winter of 1997, I stood still one day and took a minute to stare out the window. I was alone in the company of myself. My senses caught my attention because although I was standing completely still, my muscles felt like they were trying to stop me from going somewhere. They were busy working against me even though I was not moving. I was “tensing up” for seemingly no reason at all.
Not too long after that moment of introspection, it dawned on me that the body fat I had slowly gained was only showing up in the areas where my muscles were tensing up. “Could there be a connection?” I wondered.
I proceeded to watch this strange occurrence in the weeks that came and went. It didn’t take long to realize that my very own thoughts and feelings were responsible for setting my muscles off. I was desperate to lose the weight I was gaining and saw this observation as a savior sent from heaven. I immediately set about soothing my thoughts and feelings. I was eager to find out if this situation could be reversed. Could it be possible to lose weight by relaxing?
About a month later, it was obvious that my weight had gone down. I was over the moon. I hadn’t eaten differently and I hadn’t done any exercise. I wasn’t stressed and I wasn’t on any medication. The only obvious change was that I had begun to relax and let go, mentally. “Explain that!”, I thought to myself.
It was incredible. I had observed that my body fat could come and go depending on how much my muscles tensed up or relaxed. My body fat would accumulate or disappear in the precise same areas where my muscles tensed up or relaxed, regardless of food intake or level of exertion.
However, along with the elation came confusion. I was confused because I’d never heard of such a thing before and wondered whether my mind was playing tricks on me. I decided that the only way to find out was to ask. But who could I ask living in a foreign country far away from an English library?
Intuition told me that the Internet was the answer. I started out searching for documents relating to weight gain, muscles, stress, metabolism, anything that would describe this strange experience I was having. When I could no longer find my keyboard for mountains of printed literature and reports which were proving to be dead-ends, I had to face the possibility that no one had yet realized what I had come to observe. I could not find one single document describing this strange phenomenon.
As the months went by I would inquire timidly with as many people as possible about whether or not they tensed up a lot and where they might be doing this tensing up. I slowly became convinced that only overweight individuals chronically tense up and only in the areas where they are fat. As more and more of the slim individuals I questioned failed to comprehend my description of the feeling tensing up produces, I instinctively knew that this was a phenomenon that deserved to be explored.
Through my own self-experimentation and sensitive introspection I embarked on a journey of exploration through the mechanics that bring about tensing up. I arrived at the belief that a mental conflict arises when we oppose the very action we are making or intending to make. This belief was further impacted by the realization that we oppose our actions when we are scared and when we find it difficult to relax and be ourselves. Through my mind, I explored every inch of my body, intuitively listening to precisely what action was being opposed by tensing up and how I could turn it around and start relaxing and being myself again.
Science was of no interest to me in high school, so I was really starting from afresh when I decided to broaden my knowledge of biochemistry. I had got myself caught up in a challenging bind. I couldn’t give up just because nobody else had come forth with this observation. Yet, at times I felt way out of my league sifting through mountains of scientific publications and looking up just about every word printed in them to make sense of what they were saying.
This seemingly simple occurrence proved to involve a multitude of variables. However, it raised one obvious question to me. Was this yet another way to gain weight or was this the only way to gain weight, in which case why had no one ever noticed this before?
At every corner I had to remind myself that the regulation of this occurrence was real. I had experienced it and observed it with my own eyes. Every piece of information I read on the causes of obesity was how things might possibly hang together, theoretically, or under particular circumstances.
Having established a psychological link in the regulation of tensing up, I proceeded to investigate exactly how this activity could influence fat accumulation in specific areas. I trusted my intuition to guide me to the right reference material day after day, month after month.
In order to know what was causing me to tense up, I also had to know what was not causing it. I very quickly learnt that when a particular trail became too difficult to follow or not enough information was forthcoming, then I was on the wrong track. In these instances, I went with the clues that were opening up for me. Key words emitted a strange energy as if beckoning for my attention.
My mind became insatiable for information and new clues, ticking over loudly in any spare moment I had. I would lie awake at night pondering over why I should be the one to observe this phenomenon, having not been formally educated in the medical sciences.
However looking back at it now, it had its advantages. Should I have been formally educated, I would not have started out in ignorant bliss. Fortunately, I was not blinded by any preconceived ideas about what was medically possible and what was not. I just trusted and expected that I would find the answer and slowly the pieces started falling into place.
No sooner had I put a textbook hypothesis together, than I realized that I would have to find current evidence to support that hypothesis, if I wanted anyone to sit up and take notice. This was perhaps the most challenging part of my research. I would spend hour after hour sifting through the literature both current and outdated. I realized I had made a breakthrough when the pieces of my text book hypothesis started fitting into the gaps, holes and question marks posed in the latest scientific research and reviews.
At this point, I knew that regardless of the mounting anecdotal evidence, facts and implications of this very real physical occurrence, I had seen proof enough in my own body to share this observation with other people. The fact that I could lose weight and keep it off without dieting or exercising was all the proof I needed, no matter how it came about.
However, standing up and saying what I truly believed in ultimately turned this journey into an experience of believing in myself. I learnt to trust in what I was experiencing and watched it grow and develop into a fully-fledged phenomenon. I invested my love and energy into researching and proving to myself that this phenomenon is a reality to be believed in and followed.
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