Trauma & Weight Loss
How women with past trauma should approach weight loss
By Eva Nagy
I am a fitness trainer and weight loss coach who struggled with her body and weight most of her life. Through my healing and through working with other women with similar histories, I learned that women with past trauma need to break away from the traditional weight loss approach. Dieting and exercising alone doesn’t work for most of them. They need a different strategy to succeed.
Here is why…
“Trauma changes us. It alters the relationship we have with ourselves and our bodies, the way we relate to others or cope with stress, and our daily choices.”
People who go through childhood trauma don’t feel safe to be their true selves. They believe that they need to be someone else to meet others’ expectations and to be loved. Becoming sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and turning into givers and pleasers is how they survive. While they take responsibility for others’ feelings and needs, they disconnect from their own and begin neglecting themselves. Self-neglect is painful and creates a lot of inner struggle and anxiety. To ease this pain, they eat, drink, smoke, use drugs, or develop other types of addictions.
Will simply beginning an exercise program and eating healthy change these dynamics?
Of course, it won’t unless the person is aware of the root cause of their weight gain and heals their past trauma.
Most women who are givers and pleasers put themselves last on their to-do list. They have a hard time saying “no” to others or standing up for themselves. They also try to avoid conflict at all costs, even if the cost is their inner peace or health. They don’t like asking for help and don’t know how to receive from others or how to give to themselves.
If a woman has been putting herself last for her entire life to survive, beginning a self-care routine goes against the way she functions. It isn’t only uncomfortable but can also feel life-threatening.
Putting her attention on herself and her needs can create friction at every part of her life; relationships, friendships, and career. It’s no wonder that women who begin exercising and dieting fall off their routine eventually. And even if they stick to it, they end up sabotaging themselves with emotional eating or drinking to cope with the inner conflict.
But continuing to live with self-neglect will never make one feel whole and healthy.
So, if you’ve experienced trauma, how should you approach weight loss or—as I prefer to say—your self-care routine?
- Learn that you matter.
- Go from resenting who you are and your body to loving yourself.
- Turn your self-neglect into self-care.
- Become sensitive to your own needs and feelings.
- Understand and start meeting your basic physical and emotional needs.
- Learn to cope with stress and the changes that come with the transformation in a healthy way.
- Learn to draw boundaries; say “no” to others and “yes” to yourself.
- Speak up and stand up for yourself.
- Get better at tolerating conflict.
- Develop a regular self-care routine.
That is the only way you will be able to make the necessary changes that will help you not only achieve weight loss that lasts but also a harmonious and happy life.
Making these changes is not easy, and it takes longer than a thirty or sixty-day weight loss program. It is also important to have the right support and be surrounded by people who are going through a similar journey.
If you are someone who has been struggling to keep up a regular self-care routine or if you have been training and dieting without much success, my suggestion is to change your approach. Instead of fighting with your body and nature, shift your beliefs, learn to love yourself, and become more sensitive to who you are.
If you need support and inspiration, join my Facebook community, Weight Loss Through the Soul Community (women only).