Fear and Weight Loss
The fatal flaw of all weight loss-focused approaches is fear.
Many people are seeking solutions for their “weight problems” with drugs like Semaglutide or bariatric surgeries and other restrictive methods with the anticipated outcome of weight loss. They may have success in losing weight initially, but they won’t find the peace that comes when you no longer have fear of regaining the weight back.
Many people believe – or they have been told – that they will have to struggle and “control” their weight for a lifetime.
Control is an illusionary concept; it’s simply a response to being afraid of being out of control. This weight loss focus also targets weight as the problem, yet weight is just a measure of mass and gravity. One’s mass can be made of many things, including fat.
Fat is also just a symptom, mainly the fear-driven survival of the species deeply embedded in our DNA. It’s just feedback from a body that wants deeply to communicate with you – communicate how it feels and what it needs. We aren’t very good listeners, and we certainly aren’t compassionate when it comes to our bodies (more on that later). In fact, restriction itself causes a fear response in the body and provokes food insecurity (remember the drive to survive?), so any changes in food intake must be done in a way that reassures the body that it’s safe.
I would be amiss to not point out that one’s motivation to lose weight in the first place comes from several fear messages that are prolific in our society. There is a fear of fatness or fear of dying of illness caused by fatness. These myths perpetuate the fear of being rejected and alone because of fatness or being blamed for causing one’s own illness. This type of fear accelerates into a collapsed form of fear: shame. Then, combine that with a fear of food as the enemy and the opposing fear of being hungry.
We can’t win within this fear-based framework! Even well-intended change is doomed to fail. If it is motivated out of fear, it won’t be long-lasting or bring about contentment.
If you feel like you’re battling your weight or fighting with food and your body, you may never find long-lasting change.
Outcome and symptom-oriented change doesn’t address the real problem: a disconnected and fear-focused relationship with food and your body. A person who just loses weight is depleted and worn from the battle. Quit trying to fix your body with a pill, surgery, or plan of dos and don’ts. Disengage from the struggle and seek to work with and befriend food and your body.
Many of my clients come to me wanting to work on “the real issues” underlying their “weight problem.” The first thing I say is to stop looking at your weight as the problem. Begin to focus on value-based, everyday “felt” experiences, such as the feeling of strength, stress resilience, clarity of thought, improved mood, less discomfort or pain, or more energy during the day. None of these have to do with weight loss!
Instead, it’s about contentment and a peaceful life, a life without fear. A life that you don’t regularly choose to escape from. It requires a present and mindful existence. It’s about listening and responding to your body, creating an owner’s manual and care instructions for your life. Clients ask, “But will I lose weight?” And I say, “That’s the body’s business. Your job is creating a safe place for it to live.”
So what’s wrong with fear? Fear in the body takes away our capacity to use the best parts of ourselves.
The body either shifts us into a defensive “fight” mode or sends us fleeing in “flight.” Chronic, overwhelming fear collapses us into a “frozen” state of numbness and escape. When in a fear state, we are just managing, never thriving. That’s why it always feels like a struggle. We can’t think clearly, and we have a hard time connecting to our values or resolve.
Safety allows us to relax and tap into the parts that connect us to our possibilities. Whether you are currently focused on losing weight or planning your next round of weight loss, consider challenging the fear-based approaches of your past and embrace a more mindful, compassionate, and embodied way of being. Find providers who are weight neutral and employ a more collaborative method of healing when addressing food and your body. You don’t have to love your body to care for it. Food is not to be feared but to be mindfully leveraged as a tool for an abundant life.
In my programs, the focus is on cultivating the 8 C’s of a peaceful life: connection, calm, compassion, clarity, creativity, courage, confidence and curiosity. The goal is to move individuals away from fear states and towards solutions that create a safe environment for change. The method is science-informed and compassionately executed.
Are you looking for a great resource to begin your journey? Or are you a professional looking for a resource to help you lead your clients? Look no further! The Food, Body & Love: Companion Workbook is now available.
Visit my website to learn more about my counseling, consulting, and coaching services as well as my current courses and recent Safe and Sound Protocol certification. Check out my memoir, Food, Body, & Love, but the greatest of these is love and its newly-released Companion Workbook.