Dr Libby Weaver: body fat and holistic wellness
Dr Libby Weaver is a name synonymous with wellness, and she is on a mission to help us all value and nurture the amazing beings that we are. In this extract from her latest book, she explains the benefits of a more holistic approach to health, and what ou
To live in this different way [see quote below] requires a paradigm shift on how you approach what food you eat, and how you eat it. It requires a shift from a focus on weight to a genuine focus on and care for your health. This means embracing a three-pronged holistic approach to your health: emotion, nutrition and biochemistry. Let’s explore these briefly here before we move on.
Emotion When you are not hungry, it is not food you want. The food will never be enough, will never fill you, never satisfy you. Rather, it is the associations you have with the food, the stories you tell yourself about the food. It is the memories of that food. It is what you believe that eating that food will give you: a feeling – and it is always a feeling – of companionship, of belonging, of being welcomed, of no longer being lonely or bored, of being treasured, of deserving the sweet things in life, of being special. When you are not hungry, forget the middleman: food. Go for the treasuring. And start with yourself.
Nutrition There is no question that humans can over-eat. Certainly it is very easy to do so in today’s processed-food-laden world. It is also true that they can under-eat. However, the fundamental, underpinning problem is the way we are taught to approach eating: that the only way we can control or influence our body size and weight is via a concept of “calories in versus calories burned”, which is based on an equation originating from 1918. This not only ignores the emotional factors that drive food behaviours (which are even more prevalent these days with the epidemic of “not enoughness” I talk about in my TEDx talk), but also ignores the dramatic change in our food supply. Since 1918, there has been a steady and remorseless move away from real-food, contributing to what I call the “toxicity factor”, and an influx of estrogen-like substances in the environment, which drives fat storage and disrupts our endocrine system.
Biochemistry Couple this change in food source and content with the advent of the coffee culture, which can drive excess adrenalin production and promotes the flight-or-fight response. Then add to this our perceptions of pressure and urgency mounting daily, as evidenced by stress studies globally, and we have a whole host of factors influencing the metabolic consequences of the calories we eat. Fast-burning fuels are used over slower-burning fat, which is stored to help us survive these “unsafe” times. As this becomes our default setting, our metabolism changes.
The paradigm shift
When you base how someone is supposed to eat on a concept that says the only way you can have what you think you want – a slim body, a lean body – is by burning more than you eat, you set people up for a life of obsession and misery. Plus, you miss the road to freedom. By freeing yourself from an obsession with food and calories, from intense exercise, and from harsh self-talk, you will find what you seek from the food, but which it can never give you: love. The body, mind and soul nourishing alternative is simple: eat real-food build your muscle mass get flexible diaphragmatically breathe drink mostly water get eight hours’ sleep per night.
It is that simple. I always want to write “as often as you can” after these points, so that it feels more realistic for you. But the truth is, if I do that, you may not truly appreciate the powerful and wonderful impact a new level of commitment to your health and self-care can bring. I also always want to start points like these with a statement encouraging you to get back in touch with how precious life is, with how precious you are, for when you do that you will treat yourself accordingly. You will do these things without effort. Because that is part of what taking care of yourself looks like.
These points aren’t rules. You do not need to follow them 24/7, 365 days a year. You are not required to execute them to perfection. It is what you consistently do that impacts on your health and your body. This is a way of life; a way of living you return to after a meal with a friend or a holiday. It is how we can support our body in this fast-paced modern world. It is how we can live our best life and make the biggest contribution back. And, along the way, it brings you energy, vitality, grace, freedom and love.
Do you feel the desire, the longing, to live in a different way? To live with ease and spaciousness. To stop punishing yourself or shaming yourself. If you do, that gives you a choice.