In my twenty-plus years of work as a Shamanic Healer, I’ve helped many women with weight problems. It’s easy to use excuses like having children and our genetic makeup for this critical challenge. Based on observation and my experience, I’ve come to believe that extra weight is the physical armor we put on ourselves when we feel emotionally vulnerable. To lose weight – and keep it off — requires a combination of deliberate thoughts, self-love, and action.
For many overweight women, the problems begin during childhood. When I was a little girl, I was punished every night for not eating all of my supper; the Sisters in the parochial school that I attended would retrieve my discarded lunch out of the trash and make me eat it. Then, during adolescence, the messages shifted, as I started to put pounds on my once-thin frame. Mom told me that I needed to go on a diet because I gained ten pounds during one year of my growing period. She lectured me about what a woman should look like until my body awareness became distorted. I formed serious misperceptions about my physical attractiveness, and the dieting began: low carbs, no sugar, cutting out meals — you name it. Every one of my female friends was dieting, too; for us it was a personal battle, and Diet Coke was our weapon of choice.
Finally, during my last year of college, I had an awakening. I tossed aside my last diet drink can and said, “Nevermore.” At that defining moment, I made a promise to myself never to diet again. I began visualizing what I wanted to look like, and the act of concentrating on that imagery enabled me to tap into my subconscious mind. Researchers say that, normally, we use only 10 percent of our brain. I managed to tap into something that freed up more of my brainpower; with my new creative and intuitive capacity, I started on the road to becoming the shamanic healer and teacher that I am today.
Now at the age of fifty-six (56), I maintain my weight without dieting — by providing my body with the love and nurturing that it needs. How did I do this?
The process was straightforward.
- First, I put an end to negative self-talk. Instead, if I had put on a few extra pounds, I called myself a “luscious woman” — never fat.
- Second, I stopped creating an internal culture of deprivation. I replaced Diet Coke with water; if I wanted a soft drink, I selected one with sugar and enjoyed it. At parties, I would look at all the goodies and tell myself that I could have anything I wanted. Usually I chose not to have anything. Choosing not to do something, rather that thinking you can’t, is a far more powerful way to change your behavior. Feelings of deprivation will sabotage all your attempts to lose weight.
- Third, I listened to my body. I noticed how I felt after eating junk food: lousy. I made better food choices for my body because it felt good, not because I was supposed to.
- Fourth, I examined my beliefs about my body. My mother had planted a negative belief system about eating and gaining weight in my young teenage mind, and I had to change that. Do you believe you are heavy because you gave birth? Because gaining weight is a natural consequence of getting older? Because you have a “fat gene”? These are belief systems – in order to lose weight, you will need to alter your thinking.
Belief and biology
In his best seller, Your Sacred Self, Dr. Wayne Dyer claims that our external appearance reflects our inner critic: “…manifestations like excess weight are fear-based projections of yourself.” I think this is accurate. This past year, a female client told me that she would not be happy until she lost ten pounds. I ask why she couldn’t be happy now — in this present moment. Weight need not be such a powerful influence on our personal happiness. After months of teaching her how to release negative emotions and develop her inner power of self love, she lost twenty-four pounds and is thinner than she was in high school.
In his book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra, M.D. and former Chief of Staff at Boston Regional Medical Center, wrote, “You can free yourself from aging by reinterpreting your body and by grasping the link between belief and biology.” The same is true for weight loss.
How can we begin doing what Chopra suggests? How do we “reinterpret” our bodies and transform our old beliefs?
You can do it!
The best way to start is by developing some simple practices, such as the following.
- Write it and rip it. Silence your inner critic. Write down all your negative feelings. Ask yourself: How did I eat as a child? How did my family view food? How do I feel about food? What’s really eating me? Then, rip up the paper you used, declaring out loud: “These feelings are no longer part of me.”
- Visualize your perfection. Concentrate on an image of yourself at your desired weight, and know that you can achieve this. Perhaps find an old photograph of yourself when you were “just-right.” Then, take time at the beginning and end of each day to visualize yourself becoming as you were in the photograph.
- Treat yourself. Do something special each day for yourself. It could be something as simple as a nice cup of tea or a warm bath.
- Select only foods that nourish your body. If you know that a food contains empty calories, pass it up. Eat consciously and slowly; enjoy what you are eating. Attend to what your body tells you after you eat the food. If you do not feel good, don’t eat that food again.
- Move your body in a way you really enjoy. Select a favorite activity such as walking, biking, running, yoga, or gardening. Do it routinely every day at the same time.
- Let feelings come out. Begin to feel your feelings rather than stuffing them inside your body. Allow them to come out in constructive ways. Tell people how much you care about them. Also tell them when you’re angry, so that you can get past it and move on. Develop more honest communication patterns in all your relationships, and honor your commitments..
- Appreciate your body. When you shower or bathe, talk and caress your body as if you were speaking to a baby: “Thank you, my eyes, for letting me see all the beauty around me. Thank you, my legs, for taking me wherever I want to go.” The body responds to love, not criticism.
Does this sound too easy or too good to be true? Just watch the pounds slip away, as you fill yourself up with love and intention. The mind-body-spirit connection is a powerful force that can make a significant difference in all aspects of our lives. Remember….the magic is in you!