Katherine Willow N.D.

Weight, one of the hallmarks of modern life, entices us to obsess about our body at the expense of our inner life.

nude-sketchOne of the biggest realizations I’ve had about weight came when I arrived at my ideal, proud as punch after decades of fighting with food. It didn’t take long to see that being slim did not make me a better person. I noticed with increasing clarity that people around me who happened to carry extra weight, whether a little or a lot, were often more open-hearted and kinder than I was.

And if they actually had made peace with their body in this culture which judges weight harder than many more important qualities, their energy and sexuality radiated in juicy waves. I began to regret that I hadn’t appreciated my extra flesh when I had the chance. The final blow came when an old high school friend whom I hadn’t seen for thirty years expressed dismay that I was so thin!

The conclusion isn’t a new one: work from the inside out. Realize that weight is a symptom of something else and is actually trying to help us. It grounds us, carries excess toxins away from important organs, keeps us warm, buffers us from trauma and helps us feel safe until we make peace with our sexuality. I vividly remember a cancer patient with 100 extra pounds sailing through chemo and outliving her group by years—partly because her weight gave her added protection.

Of course I know the other side of weight, the strain on the heart, insulin resistance, low energy, higher rates of cancer, just plain discomfort. However, there are new studies that show one can be heavy and healthy. With a healing heart and balanced lifestyle, including good diet, movement, sleep and regular cleansing, the risk factors of excess weight can diminish to normal.

So maybe it makes sense to start a weight loss program with some de-programming about one’s body and self-worth. Mirror work, mindfulness meditation with its emphasis on self-acceptance and compassion, EFT, counselling and just thinking it through for ourselves!

Once we stop beating ourselves up for every extra bite, efforts to lose weight are more likely to be successful. And when for some reason the pounds don’t come off, we can still go on with our lives, relationships, careers, hobbies and spiritual paths with great satisfaction.

It is necessary to find the cause of extra weight to create a successful plan: some common ones include emotional eating, low thyroid, low adrenals (when we are exhausted we can’t burn fat), food sensitivities, bowel flora imbalances, lack of digestive enzymes, liver sluggishness, wrong diet/exercise for one’s body type and many more.

There are certain things we can do that are fundamental no matter what the cause: find a way to move regularly that we enjoy (yoga has the best track record for balancing weight); wean off processed foods with their addictive chemicals (MSG, aspartame); cut out or reduce wheat, then dairy, then sugar, then caffeine; drink enough water between meals; stop eating after an early dinner each night; do regular cleanses and above all, get more sleep in the hours before midnight.

Sleep has been shown to have more impact on weight than food. And if the issue is emotional eating, treat yourself to a therapist, OA (Overeaters Anonymous—how I cracked my own eating disorder), body-centred psychotherapy or a course on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

In the meantime, give yourself permission to live fully, wear lovely clothes, stand tall and shine from the inside out. . .

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Katherine Willow is a fourth generation naturopathic doctor who runs a healing centre near Ottawa, Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre. This year Katherine is offering a program consisting of monthly retreat days where she distills thirty years of practice to support people towards better health — physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. www.ecowellness.com