Even though I’ve been doing this work for myself and with my clients for a long time, I still find myself noticing my body feeling heavy.
It’s from doing the work that I have very gratefully recognized the heaviness is not about my body size, but what my body is holding. It might be some heavy energy from what’s going on in the world around me, or it might be an unmet need that is keeping me stuck from finding my flow, or a million other reasons!
Your body feeling heavy is different to the objective fact of having a higher weight body. Noting that having a higher weight body doesn’t mean you’re destined to feel heavy all the time or experience less function or mobility – this is a harmful stereotype that we need to challenge.
This post is focussing on the subjective experience of your body feeling heavy and what you can do to move through it.
Get curious about why your body feels heavy
Typically, that heavy feeling or ‘I feel fat’ feeling comes from one of two things:
- Our internalized weight bias has been activated and our thoughts have sparked uncomfortable sensations in our body which we then interpret as ‘feeling fat’ or ‘feeling heavy’
- We’ve got a need that we haven’t noticed and therefore haven’t tended to which we mistakenly interpret as a body problem and then get distracted by blaming our body
What to do when your body is feeling heavy
You can offer yourself many things when you notice that heavy feeling.
If you realize that you’re feeling uncomfortable because of reason number 1, you might like to explore this article by Ragen Chastain: 3 Questions to Work on Weight Bias
Reason number 2 is a little trickier when we’re not well-practised at noticing and responding to our needs.
Get outside of your head and into nature
For me, slowing down and getting outside, gets me grounded and able to navigate the feelings of heaviness in my chest, my belly, and my shoulders that I used to blame on “I feel fat”. And then would feverishly try to move that energy by “fixing” with restriction and over-exercise, and then binging.
So, when you notice your body feeling heavy and you want to blame it, get outside.
Connect with your body through the inputs from nature – feel the breeze or the warmth of the sun. Watch a butterfly or a bee hop from flower to flower. Smell the freshly cut grass or listen to the birds in the trees above you. Taste the rain on your tongue.
Going outside into nature and experimenting with moving your body in gentle* ways is partially about joyful movement but also about helping to move some of that heavy energy. And it helps us connect neutrally, or even find glimmers in something that’s always changing – this is a lovely parallel for what we’re trying to do with our relationship to our body.
The more you can get outside of your head and away from wanting to use food or change your body as a way to deal with your emotions, the more you’re rewiring your brain to know that when you feel uncomfortable emotionally, you can choose something else that is not harmful.
* The gentle part is important. Vigorous movement can perpetuate the ‘running away from yourself’ which doesn’t help you stabilize your nervous system or build new neural pathways that say; “When I feel uncomfortable, I stay and work it out.”
Work backwards from the heavy feeling
Once the heavy feeling has discharged a little for you, work might like to try and work backwards from it and get curious about whether there’s something else going on for you. Because we often can’t be in flow until we tend to what needs tending.
- Are you tired and need some rest?
- Have you left a big gap between the last time you ate and your body needs nourishment?
- Has there been unresolved conflict, tension, or disappointment in a relationship?
- Are you picking up on the heavy energy from world events?
- Is it something else?
The time for blaming our bodies is over, loves. Provide yourself with a safe space, dip your toe down into your body and notice what it wants to tell you. It will lead you deeper into your freedom.