The role of a healer in traditional and indigenous healing systems is to look at a problem or symptom as it relates to the whole person and community.
This is very different than the more modern approach of reducing things down to their component parts without any understanding (or care for that matter) of the connection and communication between the body, mind, soul, heart, spirit, community, environment, or the collective experiences of those who have come before us.
So how does this thing called body weight apply?
If we tap into the wisdom teachings of our indigenous elders, I’m sure the same perspective can apply:
Nothing is to be neglected.
But still, with the advances we’ve made, and the deeper understanding we have between the mind/body connection, when it comes to body weight, look around and you’ll find we are still woefully misguided, limited, unwilling, and many times, unable to look at a more complete blueprint for weight and the person trying to figure it out.
We collectively still focus on calories in and calories out, try to figure out eating from the neck-up, and cling to some arbitrary set of rules (just pick your diet du jour) but never consult, let alone, feel the body.
We have a sort of “interconnection amnesia.” We forget, or more likely never learned, just how many things can actually influence body weight and metabolism.
If we’re willing to take a whole-person perspective, we can open to other influences.
So what are some of these whole-person perspectives that relate to body weight?
Here are four examples of weight-related client stories that take into account the mind, body, soul, spirit, and heart of clients. (names and specific details have been changes or omitted for confidentiality purposes)
Beth: New Ideas for a New Body
I had a client; we’ll call Beth, who, like many women, ascribed to the belief that her recent weight gain must be due to eating too much food. The best remedy she could come up with was eating less food, which she could do for a while using some willpower. Her problem was that she eventually got so hungry and and then overwhelmed she had to keep up this kind of restriction forever, that she ended up bingeing on slices of bread with peanut butter. In Beth’s case (after looking at her diet with her), it wasn’t the amount of food causing weight gain, but the quality of the food she was regularly eating. We had to work directly with her mind and intellect, and work on improving the quality of her diet based on new, more supportive and liberating information I could offer Beth. She learned about eating for hormone health and blood sugar balance and was called into a more mature and well-informed way of taking care of herself, outgrowing the old “calorie in/calorie out” model that she anxiously clung to. Beth illustrates the process of re-wiring outdated beliefs systems so she could more forward in a clear way and create something new for her body.
Claire: The Healing Journey
Another client I’ll call Claire, came to me trapped in a pattern of grazing during the day and overeating at night after work and consequently gaining some weight. We spent a good deal of time creating transition practices from work to home and nutritional strategies to support her feeling more cared for during and after work. We also had heart-felt conversations around her biographical story around her weight (we’ve all got one) that were tearful but relieving to carve out space to talk about. Her body began to release weight through our work together up to that point. But a general feeling of sadness, depression, and a painful body image lingered, and another truth that needed tending to arose that included some systemic problems in her primary relationship. With the strength of a fortified spirit and internal self-care she’d been building, Claire was able to courageously look at what was painfully real and move forward with some big life changes. I am still deeply touched and inspired by her story. Claire illustrates a real healing journey through body care, her personal biography, opening to the truth, and creating a new vision for life.
Tara: An Introduction to the Feminine
I worked with another client, Tara, who ate leftover brownies and cake that were around for her kids. The problem, she lamented, was that she had no self-control. She always ended up eating far more than one helping and eating very, very quickly when no one was around. We only worked together for two or three session specifically focusing on bringing more consciousness to her eating by teaching her about pleasure physiology, slowing down, and permission-based eating (these are counter-intuitive feminine practices for many black-and-white thinkers). She didn’t lose weight. She did learn how to eat cake and brownies without panicking and finally had a glimpse into what confidence and self-trust around eating could be like. Tara’s work invited her into the a sneak peek of the Feminine, which was a much needed medicine for black-and white nutritional thinking.