BY GREG DOLMAN
How many times have you heard the question ‘What about stubborn body fat?’ discussed or written about in media outlets or online? Most probably the answer is far too many times to remember.
For just about anyone who enjoys doing any form of exercise, losing stubborn body fat is at the top of the list of personal goals or achievements. For the purpose of this article, I am purely focusing on both my personal experience and the experience that my clients have had with body fat over the decades that I have been involved in the fitness industry.
Body fat is used to protect our body from external blows. The more fat we have, the more ‘cushioning’ we have from being hurt from an external blow. If we have a not-so-serious fall (or take a hit) and land on a fairly fat-protected part of the body, which is generally anywhere between upper thighs through to upper torso, we may bruise but we are unlikely to break anything. So, in this instance, our body fat defends the body from more harm, both externally and internally.
Body fat is essential as a boundary and acts as a kind of shield that our body needs in order to be protected. To clarify this more, let’s look at an example of someone who has been, and still is being, abused. This abuse can come in a few different ways such as sexual, physical, spiritual, and emotional. Abuse might not always come from others either. Personal abuse is a quite common form of abuse that I have assisted clients with in both understanding why it happens and reconising when it’s happening, so the abuse cycle can stop.
When we feel we are being abused (attacked) emotionally, our subconscious mind will put up a barrier or wall to assist in absorbing the external blows that our conscious mind believes we are receiving. At this time in our life, we may be living as if there is no abuse whatsoever. However, if we have been abused previously and haven’t dealt with it, or released it, we will still be carrying the emotional wall we needed back then to protect us.
I have worked with clients who seem to be in a place of happiness but wonder why they can’t shift areas of stubborn body fat even though they eat a meal plan of whole foods and grains, do the appropriate amount of exercise, drink enough water, and have a properly functioning thyroid gland and liver, just to name a few of the things that may also hinder fat loss.
When all the boxes seem to be ticked and there is still no movement with stubborn body fat, the emotional load must then be addressed to see how much ‘emotional weight’ we are really holding on to. An understanding of our past, even as far back as our childhood, gives us a window to look through to see if there has been abuse — and, if there was, how it really affected us.
To clarify this a bit more, take the example of a young girl who was brought up in a ‘broken’ family where she lived with her mother and stepfather. Her life was going along pretty well until the birth of a half-sibling, after which the girl saw her stepfather’s (and mother’s) affection and behaviour toward her change and she suddenly no longer felt accepted by her stepfather. This then affected her self-worth and self-confidence. Unknowingly, from this point on, these feelings would be carried with her for many decades until they were acknowledged or recognised and then released.
The releasing part is unique to each one of us. Some of us choose exercises to (unknowingly, in many cases) let go, such as to run away from it, punch or kick it out, lift weights, or take on any form of movement that gives us that endorphin buzz.
I used to jump on to the Concept 2 rowing machine, and I rowed many kilometres to get rid of my ‘demons’. At that time, I knew why I was doing so much rowing, and also knew that it was vastly improving my cardiovascular system — and I’d punch and kick with each row stroke at those who I felt were abusing me. It took me about two million metres to get it out of my system, which was a couple of years of 20-minute sessions four times a week.
This rowing was my way of letting go; however, the true release came when I confronted the individuals responsible for my abuse — mine was in the form of emotional abuse. I wasn’t hanging on to too much stubborn body fat, but it was bugging me as a fitness professional at that time. Once I confronted the ‘abusers’, I felt like a great load had been lifted, and my rowing ceased, as I had extinguished the fuel. It literally happened that quickly. One day I was rowing my crap out; the next day I felt I did not need to row at all, and that unwanted body fat went with it.
I was lucky that I had a chance to face my abusers, but what about those who don’t? This is dealt with by owning our beliefs, which is certainly easier said than done. We need to believe that we deserve a life of abundance on all levels and that we are worthy of whatever life we choose. If we have a perception that we don’t deserve the best, so will be it. On the other hand, if we truly believe that we deserve to flourish and not carry the unwanted weight (fat), then we can let it go.
Throughout our lives we have many choices, and we must be aware that we do have a choice when it comes to what we deserve and what we don’t. It comes down to believing that we have a great sense of self. I have written before of the ‘three selfs’ — worth, esteem, and confidence. If one self is down, the others will surely suffer.
In the earlier example of the girl who felt emotionally abused by her stepfather, she also felt that her mother had an involvement in allowing the stepfather to behave the way he did. So, in her mind, the girl was being treated like she had no worth by those who were supposed to show and teach her about the three selfs. This betrayal affected her other two selfs for many years. Even though she dealt with her parents’ treatment front on when it was recognised, she still has little challenges occasionally around her own self-worth, mainly because she still has to work to change her perception of her belief system.
We all have challenges that we will face throughout our lives. However, if we are able to recognise and release them, then we are on our way to getting them out of our system, and our physical body will show us that we are on the right track by letting go of the unwanted body fat.
Our body is great in teaching us many lessons throughout our lifetime. All we need to do is really tune in to our true inner feelings (or gut feelings) and listen to them and trust that they will guide us to a better person.