In weight loss programs, and in our culture in general, there is a tendency to over-focus on the physical aspect of people. This manifests as a general obsession with physical appearance and “facts,” like what size jeans you wear, what you weigh, or how your arm looks in photographs. And, consequently, the resulting course of action also only addresses the physical.
Too many people think that eating a certain diet or burning a certain number of calories is enough to “solve” their weight problem. And maybe it would be—if we were just physical beings. But the reality is we are beautiful, complex, messy beings that are made up of body, mind, and spirit. Take that in. You are 3-in-1. And you will never be successful at any kind of life transformation until you acknowledge that dimensionality. Treating just the physical is only responding to one part of the equation—of course that change can’t permanently affect the whole.
So while eating healthy foods and exercising is an important part of the journey, it needs to be one facet of a holistic plan to heal your entire being. The real solution is to discover the reasons you became overweight to begin with and then correct for that.
In my nearly three decades of working with people and their weight issues, I’ve discovered that most people have emotional connections to the weight they are carrying. Certain scenarios act like triggers creating a trained response to eat. If you have a stressful day at work, you eat. If you fight with your spouse, you eat. If you feel depressed, you eat. If you accomplish something, you eat. If you celebrate, you eat.
The trouble is, at this point in your relationship with food, you are probably not binging on carrots and lettuce. You are probably eating highly processed foods, which are both a) addictive, sabotaging your self-discipline and making you always want more, and b) desensitizing, so that you neither deal with your feelings nor recognize how yucky this food feels for your body.
By responding to the emotions in a physical way, you are misdiagnosing the problem and misinterpreting the connection between your body, mind and spirit. When you respond in the wrong realm, those feelings just get shunted to one side rather than getting dealt with. Over time you build up a landmine of unresolved feelings, which can erupt and cause you countless issues.
Nourish Your Aspects
So how do you feed your three aspects—mind, body, and spirit? In Breakthrough M2 we spend a lot of time talking about healthy eating and cooking. But you also need to nourish mind and spirit. Your mind can be fed in many different ways—reading a book, having an engaging discussion, taking a class. Mental stimulation activates your neural networks and helps keep your brain flexible so that you are sharper and your memory improves. You can feel when your mind is “fit,” just like you can feel when your body is toned. It is a muscle, honed for use, and it is powerful.
The spirit, though harder to quantify perhaps, is equally important to feed. Whatever way you connect to spirit, it is important to cultivate that relationship. For some that is religious practice, for others that means simply being in nature, making art, or playing music. Others prefer to meditate or have a mindfulness practice. Whatever leaves you feeling deeply rooted, uplifted, and inspired is feeding your spirit— make time for it and follow it.
Like going to the gym or grocery shopping, taking care of your mind and spirit is a routine activity that needs to be scheduled. In the mayhem of the day to day, with kids and work and whatever else, these things will never just happen unless you block out time for them. So go ahead and take a me-hour to do your practices. You deserve it, and your body with thank you.