When it comes to weight loss, there is no shortage of advice.
Most of us have heard it all. Eat early, exercise more, count calories, skip carbs, lift weights and don’t forget to drink more water.
Surely these tips have merit; however, before busting our butts and eating less, we might want to weigh in on some truths about weight and its overall connection to love.
Love and Weight are Connected.
Here’s the thing. The way we approach food is highly influenced by our perceptions, beliefs and interpretations of love. For years, I listened and watched my mother complain about her weight. “If only I could look like you, she would say.” “How do you do it? How do you keep yourself from eating that brownie?” It was statements such as these which showed me my mother’s love for me far outweighed the love she had for herself.
This is not to say I didn’t secretly fear gaining weight or that I too wasn’t experiencing the pressure of perfection illuminated by society. Fortunately for me, my growing interest in love was strong enough to move me through these fears.
What I learned is that how well we connect to love matters, and behaviors such as measuring up and weighing in are ways we can become disconnected.
Most weight loss plans put out messages of control. Controlling calories, exercise, activity levels and hydration equals weight loss. Without awareness, they can drive home unconscious messages like, losing weight means gaining more love. When left unrecognized this can lead to an unconscious habit of controlling food as a way to manage love. The challenge is that managed love teeters on fear; we know this is if we are evaluating the success of our day based on the food we eat.
Tip: By noticing how we reflect on our food choices, we can begin to shift these counterproductive habits. We can practice embracing our choices by observing ourselves from the now. When we find ourselves reflecting from our heads, we can gently shift our awareness to our bodies. This takes us out of the past (and future) bringing us into the now where all change is possible.
Love and weight are connected in that they both provide sensations of fullness. When it comes to our stomachs, this fullness will eventually dissipate; however, love does not. When we believe love comes and goes similar to a diet, our energy begins to fade. We can increase our awareness around food by filling ourselves up with energy before we eat. Arrive at the table empty in your stomach but full of light (energy) in your body.
Tip: One of the simplest ways to cultivate our energy of fullness is to incorporate a ritual of blessing our food. Blessing our food is no different than blessing ourselves. Giving thanks for what we have is no different than stating we are enough. The bottom line is, anything that devalues our “enoughness” is likely to leave us craving more.
Quick urges to eat or graze are actually subtle opportunities to get to know our love. The challenge is that we train ourselves to follow the urge rather than feel it. It is when we allow ourselves to experience our wholeness that these triggers dissipate. This means giving ourselves permission to fully digest (feel) our emotions and experiences before moving forward. We can ask ourselves, Are our urges to eat really a craving for love?
Tip: Breathing deeply into the distracted or tense spaces of our bodies allow us to uncover the truth about our current experience. Are we giving away more energy than we are receiving? Can we pause long enough to fully take in our essence, or has food become a way to cope with the discomfort of our feelings? Pausing and allowing ourselves to breathe in through our noses and out through our noses is a way for us to gather our energy from truth rather than fear. The truth being that love is already here, but we may have unconsciously developed ways to bury or run from it. Perhaps we have turned love into something that comes and goes or we are harboring a belief that it was never really there in the first place.
Finally, one way we manage love is by pushing back our desires. Our desires are reminders of what we already have—not what we want. It is important that we are clear on this, otherwise we may end up using food as a way to suppress our desire to love. It is perfectly fine to desire a piece of cake or a hot meal. These desires are subtle reminders of the energy of higher emotions (joy, appreciation, gratitude) living inside of us. The more mindful we become of these innate, inborn qualities the less need we have to control our food.
Tip: Cultivate desire by giving yourself permission to dream, imagine and create without being attached to outcome. Vision boards, journaling and meditation are wonderful ways to foster this.
In many ways, my mother’s complaints about her weight represent a long-standing resistance to fully loving ourselves for who we are. Perhaps we can reassemble our wholeness by bridging the generational gaps and updating our views, beliefs and interpretations of love.
Author: Sherianna Boyle
Editor: Toby Israel