Body Weight—The Mind-Body Connection

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Part 2 of Take Your Weight Off Your Mind explores the mind-body connection. I refer to one of the questions from last week’s post to explore how our thoughts, feelings and beliefs can then influence what we choose to do. I also return to the importance of our gut health in supporting our wellbeing.

Mindful eating apple

The mind-body connection

If I pose the question,

“Do you feel that your health would improve if you lost or gained weight?”

You might answer yes or no, or perhaps you really don’t know if your weight makes a difference. Along with that answer might come a thought, feeling or belief.

A thought is an idea or opinion, a feeling adds an emotional component, and a belief means that you accept that your idea and/or feeling are true.

Let’s explore how your response to the question above engages the mind-body connection further.

The answer is ‘no’

If you believe that changing your body weight will have no impact on your health, then you may choose no further action. This question will fade as quickly as it appeared. But if you are experiencing poor health at the time you are asked the question, your initial answer might be no, and later you think that may be your weight is connected to your health. This reflection might encourage you to consider whether your body weight has changed recently (or over the past few years), and you may decide to visit your healthcare practitioner for a check-up.

Past attempts of changing your body weight may also influence your answer. For example, if you have tried to lose weight previously and feel that you failed, then these underlying feelings may be clouding your ability answer. You feel more comfortable saying “no”, rather than addressing the feelings of past failure.

The answer is ‘I don’t know’

Your response to not knowing whether a change in body weight will support your health will be directed by your current state of being. If you are unwell, you may decide to explore whether weight loss or weight gain could improve your health. Again past experience may influence your answer and actions.

The answer is ‘yes’

Yes, might be accompanied by a feeling of excitement, or even joy, if you believe that changing your weight will improve your experience of health and wellbeing. This positive feeling will be further enhanced through your belief that you are able to make the eating and lifestyle choices required to support your weight loss or gain and overall health and wellbeing.

Yes, is more often burdened by feelings of dread, guilt or being overwhelmed. You may even think “not again”, especially if you have experienced a number of weight cycles after purposely making choices to support weight gain or weight loss. At this point you might decide that you are not even going to try, or you could ‘go on a diet’ like you have before, or you might seek out a new solution to improve your health.

If you acknowledge that your health could improve with a change to your body weight, but focus on guilt and feelings of failure, your health could deteriorate further. Increased stress can lead to disruption of our hormone balance, poorer sleep and poorer food and lifestyle choices. I explain this as two parts of your mind in continue battle “I can’t do this” versus “I could do this”. Notice that I use COULD and NOT SHOULD. ‘Could’ empowers you to choose, where as ‘should’ commands you (giving no choice)—adding to your stress. Try substituting your ‘shoulds’ with ‘coulds’.

If you decide to make changes to support your health, it is best to acknowledge your feelings of past failure with the attitude of:

  • How can I do it differently this time?
  • What can I let go of that no longer works for me?
  • What daily choices will support me?

“What happens to our physical body is totally reliant upon our mind”

What happens to our physical body is totally reliant upon our mind, and our ability to assess and transform our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. The above responses are very brief, but give you an introduction to the power of our mind. Mindfulness practices keep us focussed on the present moment with purpose, and encourage a non-judgemental and compassionate approach to eating and living. Eating for You promotes this approach.

The body-mind connection

In previous posts I have explored the importance of our digestive health in overall health and wellbeing. The types of bacteria that live in our digestive tract not only influence our physical health, but also our mental state. I encourage you to read my post on gut microbiota to strengthen your foundation for health and happiness.

“The mind-body connection exists and we can no longer think of the mind and body as separate entities.”

Eastern medicine for centuries has supported and treated the mind and body as one, therefore everything we think and do influences the mind-body connection. Western science through psychological and mindfulness research has shown that the state of mind not only directly influences our health; it influences the choices we make. More recently the impact of gut health on our mind has been revealed. The mind-body connection exists and we can no longer think of the mind and body as separate entities. Health is influenced by what we think and do.

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