I posted this photo of my body not because I am looking for attention–I get that easily enough walking down the street with a sword– but because I believe that the physical body is a representation of the mind. Keep reading and I’ll explain what I mean by this, and why I posted the photo. weak.’ Then, the weight gain, not planned of course, but the necessary way my body coped with the stressor of losing a loved one.

I don’t remember eating or drinking more, but here is what I now understand eight months after losing mom and allowing the grief to turn into gratitude. The thought ‘she’s gone and I need her back,’ caused more pain in my heart than the strong muscle/organ could process, so my body thought, ‘I’m dying, too,’ and began to eat and put on weight to protect the most vulnerable part of the body–the gut. For months I had no interest in training hard, nor did I care at all about getting in shape. I only cared about getting meeting the basics needs: feed kid, work, earn, be kind, sleep.

Then something miraculous happened! All the work I had been doing on visioning, goals, and actions, started to take hold. The right people began to show up in my life again, I accepted mom’s body was gone and felt gratitude for her passing because no one should suffer for so long through brain disease or any disease. Slowly, my mind became clear once again, through the tools I use (the work of Byron Katie, the Hoffman Process, support systems, sharing with friends) and I discovered my body naturally wanted to train again.

Concepts such as perseverance, focus, mindfulness, peak-performance, and serenity–these all work in tandem with calm. clear mind. But just as any stressor on the body can have a big effect on one’s balance, gravity, sense of self, load, and ability to engage with physical surroundings, so too can any stressor on the mind cause similar physical effects. It is easy to understand the consequences of stressors on the body. Consider the example of a baby who begins to discover the need to walk and quickly goes through a solitary football practice where they fall upon fall, upon head to floor, upon bruises, upon face to wall. These natural stressors help push the young being into an even greater need to walk. Projected baby translation: “Ok, this middle-ground situation hurts. I either need to remain on all fours or figure out balance, fast.” How do stressors on the mind affect us physically?

After my mom passed away–after proteins took over her brain (an organ I reference frequently in Jungshin) and made it impossible for her to understand life on any terms– I experienced a stressor so powerful that it changed the shape of my body. I want to share this story because the experience of loss is a serious stressor and when we as fitness professionals work with our clients, particularly on weight loss, it serves us to take in their entire story, as weight gain may indeed be the kindest form of therapy at a given point in time. If we take the weight away before the individual is emotionally ready, we can have the reverse long term effect –resulting in increased weight gain and many other problems. [1]

As anyone who has known loss understands–and with deep respect for the experiences of my readers–we each process it differently. This is my experience. First, the feeling of, ‘I’m out of control,’ watching mom’s body and brain deteriorate over three years. Then, the death part, ‘Is she really dead?’ with the complete disconnection from life and death for a few months. Then, the grief, ‘my body cannot tolerate this emotion (energy in motion). It is too small. I am too.

It’s truly amazing to watch a clear mind create a healthier body. I knew I needed to be in better physical shape for Jungshin, but nothing short of going inwards and allowing my body to hold the emotion could move me through my emotional stressors so that my mind could be centered enough to want to work out again. The next time someone comes to you wanting to lose weight, please make sure their heart is ready to feel whatever it may be holding in under the weight. In most cases, there are no shortcuts. Give the body permission to respond to the emotional stressor, then help your client clear their mind and set their body free.

For further reading into the relationship between emotions and physical health, I recommend: Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine, by Candace Pert; Energy Medicine, by Jill Blakeway; and The Great Human Diasporas by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza.

Love, Annika

[1] Please watch the movie, Concussion for a tribute to the brain and what happens when we hit our heads. Repetitive stressors to the skull and head cause proteins, similar to those found in Lewy Body or Alzheimer’s diseases, to build up in the brain, often giving pro-athletes with head injuries similar dispositions to those of dementia patients.



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