Growing up my mom always used to say, “It takes a village.” She was referring to what is required to raise a family, but I think the message travels beyond that point.
When it comes to getting healthy or losing weight we often feel like we have to take the journey alone. Sure you might enlist an expert, but the day-to-day challenges feel solitary.
But there’s a better way!
Let’s start at the beginning. There are three basic emotional needs all humans have:
love, safety, and belonging.
All three of these needs tie into our health journey. Whether we like it or not there are hidden messages within social media and our culture as a whole that can convince us to believe certain things about ourselves and others.
For women, the message we often see is, If you aren’t thin, you will be judged and, You’re not good enough. For men, it’s largely that “real men” eat meat….according to ad executives, anyway.
Throughout my 10+ years working as a personal trainer, nutrition specialist, and health and life coach I’ve yet to meet someone who speaks kindly to themselves while they’re trying to achieve their goals. The truth is, most people shame and judge themselves on their health journey. Why?
Don’t get me wrong, I did the same thing. I told myself it helped me push harder, when in reality it only disconnected me more from myself. I told myself a story that when I look like X then I will feel Y. But that’s not how it works.
I’ve worked with countless clients who told me they’d be happy or confident if they lost the weight, but when they lost the weight they didn’t feel that way. That’s because the feelings of happiness and confidence are internal, and no outside solution can ever solve an inside problem. The truth is self love is required on your health journey. And not because of how it makes you feel, even though that's a huge perk, but because of the hormonal response it invokes.
When we are judgemental and shameful towards ourselves it induces the stress response making it harder for us to lose weight. However, when we show ourselves loving compassion, our body releases oxytocin which almost neutralizes stress. To convince our body to work with us on our health journey, self love is required.
SAFETY & BELONGING
The other two needs work together, and Safety has two roles. First, you need to feel safe in your body and understand how to move your body in a way that serves you. But also you need to feel safe emotionally to establish hormonal harmony.
This is where Belonging comes in. Belonging refers to a space where you feel safe to be your authentic self, open and vulnerable without judgment or shame. A space where you can feel safe expressing your challenges and struggles and be met with compassion.
Trying to change your lifestyle to feel healthier is a challenge. It takes hard work, and with the messages society sends us everywhere we look, it feels like an uphill battle. BUT when you feel safe in a community where you can belong, it changes the game.
Imagine this: You want to go to the gym, you tell yourself all weekend you’re going to do it, you’re ready. Monday rolls around and you’re just too tired. Tuesday shows up and you can’t because work got too crazy. The rest of the week comes and goes and before you know it you’re where you were a week ago going down the shame cycle….What’s wrong with me, you might think.
COMMUNITY OF BELONGING
Behavior change is hard and there’s a LOT we don’t understand. Before I became a coach and studied the mind, I didn’t understand that, and I was on the same shameful path. But this is where your community of belonging will set you free.
Instead of suffering alone and bullying yourself, you can turn to your community that you already feel safe with and express your frustrations. Before you know it, you’ll get responses from others who share similar experiences and provide key insights into what did or did not work for them.
In those moments you’ll realize you’re not alone, there’s nothing wrong with you, YOU’RE SAFE! Having a community to belong to not only helps you show yourself compassion, but it comforts the heart, syncs your hormones for harmony (which is good for weight loss), and releases pressure.
But being a part of a community also gives you a workout buddy, someone to share healthy recipes with or habits to build, an accountability partner, and a team that is all there with the same goal to build each other up together! Doesn’t that sound better than the shameful and judgmental solo path you might be on right now?
Having gained and lost 20 pounds at least four times in my life, I hated myself. I completely attached my entire sense of worth to my body image. I felt alone and insecure. My inner bully was a real monster and made me feel very, very small.
I had no idea how off course I was. If I could go back and advise my younger self, this is what I’d tell her:
You are more than your body, you are worthy because of your heart and your character
Being healthy isn’t going anywhere, so stop trying to sprint to the finish line.
It’s safe for you to feel frustrated and bothered, but the more energy you give that, the more your physiology will work against you.
Find a space where you can belong and speak about your challenges. Somewhere without judgment and shame, but a team of support and compassion.
If you want to succeed you need to drastically change your mindset.
Wherever you are in your health journey please do yourself a favor. Take a step back and consider how you are approaching your health journey?
Are you speaking harshly to yourself?
Do you judge yourself regularly because of your body?
Do you shame yourself because you don’t look how you want to or because you aren’t doing what you expect of yourself?
Do you have support?
Do you love yourself?
If your answers don’t support your three human needs of love, safety and belonging then your health journey will be a struggle. That is why I created a resource for those who are ready to truly transform their health, mind and body.
I invite you to join me in my group coaching program called the “Stress-Free, Healthy Me TEAM.” All the components discussed are included and more. For more information CLICK HERE
Whatever you choose, love yourself along the way, understand you’re not alone. Let’s find your team!