38. Release Resistance to Lose Weight - Pt. 2
Welcome to episode 38 of the Mindful Weight Loss Podcast. I am your host and your coach, Emily Erekuff and today I am talking more about releasing resistance to help you lose weight.
Last week I talked about why you might be resistant specifically to weight loss, but today I want to talk about resistance more generally and why that might still get in the way of losing weight.
I have said before that our drive to lose weight and our drive to overeat often come from the very same place, and that is our resistance to our current reality and really specifically to our bodies. We dislike our body. Our body isn't good enough. Our body should be other than it is. And so we attempt to change our body by losing weight.
And then on the other side of it, we ignore the signals from our bodies. When we diet we likely ignore or resist our hunger, and we oftentimes ignore the emotions and the stress we're feeling, and we end up overeating as a way to cope - to distract from or resist feeling those feelings. In both cases we are resisting reality, and as Byron Katie says, "When you argue with reality you lose only 100% of the time."
Your body can't be other than it is in this moment and your emotions can't be other than they are in this moment. And when we resist these things they persist. When you try to force your body to change, you diet and end up worse off than you were before. And when you resist your emotions, they build and intensify until you reach a breaking point and overeating might be what gets you there. So many don't even realize they are denying some pretty powerful emotions until they overeat. It's the overeating that finally gets you to pay attention.
So, let's look at this just a bit deeper to really understand what's going on.
First off, I want you to realize that this resistance is learned and therefore can be unlearned.
When we are kids we have this natural state of well-being. We are the center of our own universe and we sleep when we're tired (for the most part) eat when we're hungry. We naturally assume we can have what we want in part because our needs and wants aren't much. Kids aren't worried about money or success, they're just looking to have fun. And when their needs aren't met or they don't get what they want, they aren't at all shy about expressing it. They cry and maybe scream and throw tantrums, and then they settle back down and become their sweet carefree selves again.
But as we grow up and start to conform with everyone else and go to school, we are slowly taught to resist ourselves. We learn to sit still and be quiet when our bodies want to move and play. We learn to wait until there's a designated break to go to the bathroom. We learn to get up early even if that isn't natural for us. We learn to eat breakfast and lunch at specific times. And we also learn to control our emotions - not to have outbursts and to hold our feelings inside.
And then as we learn to fit in with others and make friends, we might start censoring ourselves - our opinions, ideas and emotions. We might start to dress more like others, like things that others like. And it's not long before we start wanting to change things like our hair and our bodies in order to feel accepted.
And if we go on a diet, we are being taught even more how to ignore our body's signals; to ignore hunger, fullness and satisfaction, and to ignore our desires for certain foods.
And honestly this isn't all bad. I'm not trying to ridicule the school system or being a part of society. I just want to paint the picture of how we slowly learn how to resist ourselves. We spend our lives learning how to sacrifice ourselves, how not to be the center of our own universe. And then we end up in jobs we dislike (because we made the sacrifice for money) and we wonder how the heck we got here.
Gosh and if you're a mom, you've probably learned to sacrifice your own well-being for your children, or so you can have a clean house, so you can seem like a perfect wife and mother. So many mom's get to a point where they don't recognize themselves anymore and don't even know what they want out of life anymore.
And the worst part is that by this time we've also learned to resist even our big emotions. You might be unfulfilled in life or know that something feels wrong, but you resist that. You tell yourself that you should be happy and you keep your head down. And then you escape in the evening with food and the TV.
By this time we've also learned to live with our resistance. And like I said in the previous episode, resistance feels like tension. It makes us feel tense and stressed. And when we're always walking around feeling tense and stressed, that's certainly not good for us and yet we're numb to it. We think it's just the way life is supposed to be.
But really, our natural state is well-being and that resistance should feel out of the ordinary. That stress and tension shouldn't be something we ignore and live with; it's the body sending us a signal or a message that we need to pay attention to.
You feel some tension when you're hungry and you resolve it by eating. You feel tension when you need to go to the bathroom, but then you go and you're back to well-being. You feel tension when you are tired, and you resolve that by sleeping. You muscles feel tense when you've been sitting for too long, so you get up and stretch or take a walkand you feel better.
And I think the first step to resolving our resistance is to pay attention to these fairly easy signals to read and address. Because then you start to recognize that your body has wisdom to share with you. These feelings, these signals mean something and their sole purpose is to keep you in that state of well-being.
And if you can start to view those signals as the helpful tools that they are, then you can start to begin to see emotions in a similar vein. Because we think that emotions are silly or that they aren't practical, aren't helpful, but those thoughts couldn't be further from the truth.
Just about everyone I coach, the struggle that they all have in common is that they don't allow themselves to listen to their bodies. And yet when they do listen, their bodies have more wisdom and clarity than their brains do. Recently I spoke with someone who felt really conflicted about moving to another city. And her brain had so much unhelpful chatter about the situation - like she could have kept talking and stewing about it for an hour straight. But then every time I asked her to drop down into her body - to ask her heart and her gut what she wanted to do, she was so clear. Her heart said "I'm done here."
The other reason we tend to avoid our emotions, particularly when they are intense or painful, is because we think that the message they have for us is also painful. For example, we feel pain when we think the thought "I'm not good enough" and we think that's because the thought is true. And now of course that thought is not true and that's why it feels painful. That very thought is resistance to your well-being and the pain is simply a signal of that resistance. That pain is your heart screaming at you to tell you that you are more than enough.
But you would never know it if you don't pay attention to the pain and heed the signal. And when you do listen to and receive the message, the pain is transformed and you are back in that space of well-being once again, knowing full well that you are more than enough.
There is a great need for us to listen to our bodies and to receive the wisdom of our feelings and emotions.
And if you've seen Brene Brown's famous Ted Talk, you might recall her saying that "we can't selectively numb our emotions." When we numb the negative and the painful we also numb the joy and the happiness.
And that's really the crux of this issue here - that when we resist anything we resist everything. When you are pushing away the things you don't want you are also pushing away the things you do want, and that includes weight loss. When you resist and reject your overweight body, you are also rejecting and resisting your healthy body. And when you reject and resist your pain, you are also rejecting and resisting the very antidote to that pain.
When I was looking for that quote from Brene Brown I came across a clip from her appearance on Tim Ferris's podcast and he asked her what she would say to someone who didn't want to face those negative emotions and didn't want to open pandora's box, and one of her responses was so great she said, "Pandora's box is closed right now, but are you under the impression that you're living outside of the box?"
And wow, what a a great way to visualize what's going on when we resist and keep ourselves closed off. We are so focused on keeping out the bad that we don't realize we are keeping out the good and living with the bad.
So as we part ways today, I invite you to take a moment before your next podcast comes on and take your awareness away from your brain and feel into your heart and your gut, and just notice if there's any tension or stress. You might even ask yourself what you are resisting in this moment. And then take a deep breath and surrender to that just a little bit; soften to it just one degree and see what happens. And then rinse and repeat as much as possible.
I'm a big fan of the meditation teacher davidji who has a ton of beautiful meditations on Soundcloud by the way. I'll include a link to them in the show notes. He often says "Resist nothing and you will receive unconditional love." That's a beautiful mantra you can use when you notice that you are becoming tense or stressed and you feel that resistance within you.
Take good care of yourself, and I will see you next week.
Meditations from davidji on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/davidji
Brené Brown on How to Navigate the Emotions You're Unwilling to Feel | The Tim Ferriss Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsreWfKwIhc