For those who are trying to lose weight, it’s a well known fact that half the war is waged within the mind. There are reasons why you’re overweight in the first place. Neuroses, battle scars, trauma, self doubt, and because you never learnt to deal with these issues in a healthy way, they’ve manifested in unhealthy lifestyle behaviours. The psychology is well known but the solution isn’t as easy when applying it to real life. It’s all very well and good to say to someone who is overweight, ‘Your unresolved mental issues are causing you to overeat. Get over it and get on the treadmill!’ But when that person doesn’t have the psychological tools to deal with those issues, then more often than not, they will lapse into old habits.
There is such a strong culture of fat-shaming in Australia and it walks hand in hand with the taboo that still lingers over mental illness. Take a person who has struggled with self-image issues since puberty. Society labels this as a weakness and something to be hidden because it is shameful to admit that fault. That person never learns the proper tools to deal with the emotions that comes with that shame and those repressed problems come out in self-destructive behaviour such as overeating, which society also condemns, strengthening poor self-image beliefs. Rinse and repeat. It’s a dirty, vicious cycle and it’s one that I am personally still trying to break. I’ve known the science behind this for many years, but it’s only recently that I’ve applied it to my own situation and now that I am aware, I have grabbed the nearest sledgehammer and have been smashing that cycle with all the force I can muster. It must be made of friggen titanium though, because at this point all I’ve managed is a few dents here and there.
I can tell you without a second’s hesitation that my unresolved mental issues are ones that stemmed from schoolyard bullying. I was a delightfully roly poly child (and to be completely honest, was just a bit odd), but that doesn’t play well with young kids and I got hammered pretty hard. There was the full barrage of name-calling, sticks and stones thrown and on one memorable occasion I had a chunk of my head replaced with a chunk of concrete. Things of course got better, I made good friends, the bullies grew up a bit, and I learnt social strategies, but I never built a solid foundation of self worth. I’ve never gathered the tools to deal with the feelings of worthlessness, I’ve only scavenged replacements and oddly, I’ve equated my self worth with making my loved ones feel worthy. Which is not a bad thing, but only as an addition to an already healthy core of self worth.
The way my cycle works is that I push my emotions down with food, and the empty space I then fill with the problems of my friends and family that I use my pent up emotions to fix or support.
I drew a picture of my insides of this process.
It’s only recently have I addressed this. I’ve started by admitting that this is the case and become aware of what triggers me to eat emotionally. I take time out everyday when I’m in danger and ask myself ‘What’s the emotion behind this? What memory is causing this to happen?’ and if I can, I look at it; acknowledge it, and leave it behind me. In my minds eye I have an empty block of land. It’s beautiful and ready for prime real estate. Right now I’m laying a slab-it’s a strong steady slab of self worth and I’m picking out the imperfections in the cement. When I’m ready to build the house it’s going to stand, impenetrable and proud.
It’s a process of course, and there are still small flaws in the concrete that will probably stay there. I still have triggers that I don’t catch in time and I’ll ‘wake up’ after I’ve just eaten half a block of chocolate. But I think that for me, and I imagine a lot of our Curves members, being aware that you have these issues and that you want to change your situation-and actively trying to make changes is a big chunk of the battle won. Wouldn’t it be a desperate state if you had no idea that you had these problems and had no drive to ever change?
It’s truth that our members are driven to change, this week had me spending more time at Curves as an employee and stories of our members amazing achievements come thick and fast and it is just so inspiring that I almost want to cry (happy tears!).
- On Tuesday the lovely Lyn did a 100% workout! That means that her CurvesSmart registered green on all her muscle groups, as well as burning her highest ever amount of calories-a whopping 480!
- On Wednesday Marg finally cracked the 500 calories burnt mark. She’s been working really hard at around 470-495 for the last month and tipped over on Wednesday at 529!
- Shannon, an ex member rejoined last month. She had her weigh in on Wednesday, lost four and a half kg and 14cm in her first month back! Welcome back Shannon and amazing work!
- One of our new members Ailsa has had great success in under a month-she reported to us that she had bought some new work pants and that they no longer fit! Far too big. What a great start Ailsa!
- Another of our ladies, Merle had a win this week of cracking her highest calories burnt-402!
- Shannon burnt her highest cals this week also 530! A personal best!
Like I said, the cycle must be made of titanium or something ridiculous. I’m hammering away at it with my sledgehammer, making dents and weakening it-but I think we could obliterate it if we all picked up heavy objects and as a big, beautiful chaotic group just WENT AT IT together.
(Just imagine your face photoshopped over Mel’s there and you’ve got our basic battle plan down already!)
As many avenues exist that shame weight loss and mental illness there are just as many groups that support it. If you’re struggling with unresolved issues in your head-talk to someone. Whether it be a counsellor, friend, family member or even one of the staff from Curves just have it out with someone. If you’re struggling with weight loss come in and talk with one of our staff, we have some great resources at the club, or talk with a doctor or nutritionist. Don’t let shame or embarrassment hold you back and strengthen that destructive cycle.