A comment on a previous blog post, about my thought that emotions are stored in fat, and reading that commenter's own great blog post about having a similar experience, led me to pondering another aspect of weight and the varying beliefs we hold about body image. In her post on Inside Space, she talks about using her fat as a method of sheltering herself from her emotions as well as hiding in it.
I've been pondering that, as I have heard many of my weight loss "buddies" say similar things. What is true for me is not that I ever felt that I was hiding behind my fat, as in fact when I was fat, I felt totally conspicuous and as if there were no place I could hide. Barring those medical conditions that can make a person gain weight, we all know where overweight comes from - overeating. There's no pretending there.
So what did I get then from the behavior? What I believe is true for me, and is something I still have to work with often enough, is that food was my drug of choice. I used it to numb myself and stop feeling those emotions. In addition, food hits that pleasure pathway of the brain in ways that are very similar to other forms of drug abuse. Food tastes good, it feels good to have a full belly - and so on. Here's a link to an interesting article about this.
Watching the pull I continue to experience toward Food - with eating still probably my favorite activity - just being honest here - is a daily gauge of my emotional and spiritual state. If I find myself drawn toward secret eating or what I know to be overeating that sends up the red flag to examine attitudes. Am I falling into an old thought pattern? Suppressing anger? Feeling anxious? Nowadays, my tendency is to move into physical activity instead when I want to work through emotions - that also hits the reward pathway but in a way that seems to promote healthy resolution to problems and a joyous acceptance of the ups and downs life brings.
I still believe that our emotions are stored in our fat, and as we lose weight and burn off that fat, those emotions can resurface as memories - we can even experience the same bodily sensations.
In fact, one of the blogs linked to on Inside Space, has a post that makes related comments.
That blog author quotes a 19th century article by Wiliam James that discusses the physical sensations of the emotion fear and asked the question of what fear would be without the physical changes and came to the conclusion that there would be none without the presence of the physiological aspects: the fast breathing, the fast heartbeat, and so on.