Note from Steve Wells: This great article by Sue Hughes outlines her weight loss journey with tapping. It shows the importance of addressing the many underlying emotional issues, and how self-acceptance can be a keystone for creating lasting changes. As Sue says, "A great paradox I found was that it was impossible to start releasing weight until I accepted myself for who I really was at that moment in time."
Weight is a many-layered thing
By Sue Hughes
“First World” society is obsessed by weight issues. If one is not obese, one may be anorexic, bulimic, or have any other of the multitude of conditions or syndromes associated with body dysmorphia. So, why should I feel the need to contribute to the plethora of literature relating to the subject? For a while now I’ve had it in mind to ‘journal my journey’ because, after a lifetime (58 years thus far) of feeling bad about myself in general, and my weight in particular, I at long last feel that I have the potential of attaining and maintaining a healthy weight for me.
As for all of us, what has brought me to where I am today has been a mixture of genetics, events, situations and decisions. I can scarcely recall a time when I had a healthy relationship with food, when food was simply (albeit pleasurable) the fuel to keep me alive and functioning optimally. I learned very early on that being built on the short side but strong was not acceptable if one wanted friends. At the same time I learned that food, in particular sweet, starchy food, was a splendid – if temporary – anaesthetic to ward off painful experiences.
We are all built similarly in my family and I 'learned' that I could never be slim or attractive. Somehow I picked up that this was a state not to be trusted, and of course which 'tribe' was it most important for me to feel most I belonged to? Add to this an early playground bout of being called ‘fat’ names; being enrolled aged 8 into the ubiquitous Monday Club by the matron at school (where a select group of chunkier individuals went through the ritual weekly weigh-in and advice of “not so many potatoes"); and the inability to perform an acceptable handstand or climb to the top of the rope in gym classes. It all amounted to a recipe for a very deeply ingrained belief systems.
You get the picture. These patterns were entrenched into my psyche and reinforced every time I heard something that backed up the “I’m short and fat and that’s just how it is” belief. The irony is of course that, when I now look back on photos of that time, in actual fact I was my version of normal. Society, peers, family told me otherwise though, and being overweight became the outside reflection of what I felt about myself inside. Add on the idea that being a certain shape and size was also unattractive, and the diet/binge mentality became deeply entrenched.
I didn’t know who I was. I felt very unconfident in any relationships. My identity was tied up in what I did, but I never felt I was good enough. Strangely enough, my life went on in an apparently very conventional manner around all this unacknowledged pain: marriage, career, 2 children, friendships, creativity etc.. The food symptoms were a permanent fixture though and I cannot remember a day when I didn’t fixate about my powerlessness here. I got extremely thin once, but that didn’t serve any purpose either so the weight piled on again.
I first joined a slimming club in 1992 and yo-yo’d between 140 and 240 lbs ever since. They’re good folk there (although cynically I believe the underlying purpose of the business of slimming clubs is to keep the punters fat…), but what they offer in terms of fellowship is outweighed – literally – by the relapse statistics. I’m currently on my 11th membership!
Why am I persisting with this you may ask? Well, someone with as deeply ingrained belief systems as I needs a many-faceted approach and the structure of the slimming club means that I get weighed every week, there are fellow sufferers to chat with, and I am reminded on a weekly basis why the slimming business does not offer permanent solutions to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Why do I feel I now have some genuine potential answers? Firstly, I have started to address the emotional component of my weight issues with tapping. This has been a mixture of SET (Simple Energy Techniques), EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and IEP (Intention-based Energy Process), whereby deep-seated emotional issues have been revealed and defused. Tapping also helps my “in the moment” cravings and feelings – if you choose to implement! A feisty part of me may say “What the ****? I’m going to have that X anyway.” A potential source of recrimination. The conflicts inherent here have led me to another vital discovery:- the absolute necessity of self acceptance, even of parts of myself I have previously disowned, if I am truly going to arrive at a place of congruence physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Just a brief diversion here into the world of tapping - for those of you that may not be familiar with it - and my own personal experience. I was first introduced to tapping as part of my recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) as a patient at the Optimum Health Clinic in London. Talk about sceptical! All this stuff about “emotional acupuncture without needles”. I sat there with my arms crossed, but was persuaded to suspend my scepticism as I was assured it would be helpful, whether or not I believed in its efficacy. The short version of that part of my history is that I have made a full recovery from CFS, have become a practitioner, and now use tapping as part of my daily life as I confront personal issues, as well as it being a primary component in any therapeutic session.
As regards my weight issues, I remained stuck. I attended some tapping workshops with Sue Beer and Emma Roberts of the EFT Centre in London and on one of these occasions an exercise exposed a very hurt and vulnerable person. Paradoxically, there came the beginnings of a feeling of great relief; I had been living life as though looking in on it through a plate glass window. No bells and whistles of false recovered memories, no huge Traumas of being molested as a child; just the far more subtle and insidious work of a small person’s belief systems affecting the way she viewed herself. I was absolutely not ok and I had bottomed out in the self-esteem stakes. The world was a very dangerous place to exist in, I believed I was unlovable, and keeping overweight (whether with real or imagined extra blubber) I believe was my way of protecting myself.
Last October I attended 2 workshops run by Steve Wells and David Lake. Four days of continual tapping plus Provocative Energy Techniques (PET) began a great unravelling! Having experienced some quite traumatic years latterly, I had been left more or less frozen emotionally, but I noticed that I was actually starting to feel things again. Grasping the nettle (and it was extremely challenging on some occasions) I signed up for some personal coaching sessions with Steve, which have had a profound effect on my life, both internally and externally.
I didn’t directly work on my weight issues with Steve – though he was the one who directed me to Susan Peirce Thompson (see below). What was being addressed, however, was my whole set of beliefs and values. As a consequence of this, I then found I had the courage to confront and tap on the weight memories and beliefs from a position of self-acceptance. My goodness, the amount of detritus that was brought up! A great paradox I found was that it was impossible to start releasing weight until I accepted myself for who I really was at that moment in time.
I tapped when I had cravings. I tapped when I wanted to anaesthetise emotional pain. I tapped through that pain to the next layer of pain. I tapped through associated memories that arose. I tapped through ‘apparently’ non-associated memories. I tapped on relationships. I tapped on values and beliefs. I tapped on what a load of **** I thought I was. I even learned to tap on what a load of **** I saw that others may have been.... And in the middle of this web, the food spider gradually loosened its grip and I could begin to see a way forward.
So, after that detour, back to my other helping factors.
Secondly, I had a goal – I didn’t want to be the fat mother of the groom at my son’s wedding. That goal is passed now, but I enjoy working towards goals so I make sure I always have an incentive to continue losing until I reach a healthy weight; when I reach that point, I shall carry on having incentives and goals to keep me there.
Thirdly, after all that tapping, I was ready to take on board the fact that I was worth it when it came to addressing health issues. I had had CFS, which for me perpetuated being overweight; my cholesterol was very high; I had had 3 knee operations and was heading for knee replacements; I had a cardiac scare, which put me in hospital.
Fourthly, I was directed towards the Bright Line Eating community. For me at the moment it's not so helpful to follow Susan's ideas to the letter, (it is working brilliantly for some) but in principle. No sugar, no flour or refined products, 3 meals a day, no snacks. This sounds very proscriptive, but (probably because of my lifetime of sugar abuse) I am unable to eat sugary foods without then needing more and more. If I cut out these foods entirely (just taking one day at a time), my brain is no longer under strain, seeking out any legitimate opportunity to indulge. Incidentally, this is my major gripe with slimming clubs – all the chat is about how much “forbidden” food you can get away with; all you are doing is perpetuating the cycle of boom and bust.
Fifthly, I have survived The Relapse!! Accepting that I am flawed and human (hurrah!) has meant that I can be realistic and resourceful regarding straying from an eating plan. So, the aforementioned wedding provided me with cake, cheese (another trigger food for me), alcohol (takes away inhibition), chocolate (say no more), bread (yes!). Beforehand, I had worked out that it takes me about 3 days to get the foods that are addictive for me out of my system, so tapping and temporary willpower did their work and I was back on track in no time. I had lost weight even during the wedding period.
I am by no means the finished product. Every day brings its individual challenges. This whole life-changing process is like the peeling of an onion; the same things keep emerging, but with a different face and with less charge. My releasing of my excess weight is a reflection of the releasing of emotional patterns and burdens. Life (food) still happens, but I have choices now. And yes, I am worth it!
Oh, and by the way, I’ve lost just over 4½ stone (66 lbs/30 kg) since January….