Just thinking about that belly fat is enough to make you squirm right? Spare tire, Love handles, jelly belly, muffin top and middle age spread are all terms we use to describe our abhorrence at having a layer of fat over what could be a flat tummy or even maybe a six pack!
Western science has presented us with lots of hormonal explanations of why it’s there in the first place from stress hormone overload to Insulin mismanagement to the buzz word of all buzz words in human biochemistry of late; Inflammation.
I am not here to talk about the science of that today (just book one of my nutrition and lifestyle coaching programs to learn more). I am here to talk about a topic that is far less often discussed and that is how your emotional health (or lack of it) can be the biggest driver of your fat accumulation around your midsection.
When I am looking at the human body as an energetic system (like Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese Medicine does) I like to divide it into the thinking body and the feeling body. The feeling body being from the diaphragm down and the thinking body being from the shoulder girdle up.
Chakra 1, 2 and 3 basically cover your feeling world. Now these feelings can be lower harmonic and challenging like anger, fear and sadness or they can be higher harmonic like empowerment, happiness and feeling safe. Bottom line is that from your diaphragm down (the muscle at the base of your lungs used to control the mechanics of breathing among other functions) you are deeply in the feeling world.
Now that’s all well and good till we get to the phenomenon that-
Most people would rather jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet without a parachute than feel their feelings
Why is this? People are quite simply terrified of feeling their emotions. God knows what might pop up! Fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, unworthiness, jealousy. Why can’t we just get to the good stuff? The happiness, the confidence, the sweetness of satisfaction. Well it turns out feelings, like relationships, are very unpredictable and you have to take the good with the bad. You have to be either in or out. One day it could be great but the next it could be very challenging. And remember 99% of people are terrified of those feelings.
Most people spend their whole lives trying to avoid those feelings. We avoid the feelings by overeating, overworking, over exercising, over shopping, excessive gambling, sex addiction, self-harm and various eating disorders to mention a few.
That fat on your belly is an accumulation of the toxic (i.e. difficult) feelings and emotions that you refused to feel at one point of time in your life. And maybe you did that many times over. Ever wonder why you get so irritable and moody “on a diet”? Maybe its those toxic emotions coming out!!!
I had a client many years ago who was a very large lady with several Kgs to lose. She had learned to repress feelings her whole life. As she got stronger with weight training (and boy was she bloody good at it!) she became more anchored in her body. Her feelings around her Boss who did not appreciate her and bullied her came to the surface, she started to get very angry (a good sign!!) and stood up to him and began to demand respect. As she did her belly fat shrunk and shrunk! I explained to her that her belly fat was a literal barrier to the harshness of the world, and a back log catalogue of all the times she had buried her true feelings.
On the other side of the coin I see people who feel “too much”. These are the psychic sponge bobs of the world who feel what everybody else is feeling and lock it up in their own bodies presuming it’s theirs. While I was living in Germany I came across an expression “Mitleid schmertz” which means compassionate pain. We can actually mimic the emotional and physical pain of others by our compassion. Some very sensitive individuals can literally feel other people’s pain on a visceral level.
As a little kid I always wondered why the Buddha had such a big fat belly! Now I am thinking because he had so much compassion for the suffering of Man he took all of this emotional pain into his body and the belly was the only possible outcome!
So if you are repressing your feelings or you are not in touch with your feelings you may never shift that belly fat and if you are overly sensitive to the feelings of others and misidentify and misapply them as your own don’t be surprised if the belly fat is your trouble zone.
Enter the feeling world, purge the backlog catalogue, stop feeling other peoples pain ( it does not actually help them) and your fat loss efforts might just start to pay off.