Weight loss or gain can indicate big changes in our lives. Explore the spiritual meaning of weight changes.
Body weight is a contentious topic in our culture. We get the message that fat is universally bad, and that we should always be as thin as possible. Women often get the message that they should take up as little space as possible, and men get the message that they must always look strong and slender, with as little extra body fat as possible.
But we can’t always control our weight, and those body changes often come along with changes in our lives. It’s not necessarily a problem to gain or lose weight, but sometimes it can be a powerful signal that our spirit and psyche are going through things that might need attention. Let’s think about the spiritual meaning of weight gain and loss.
The Body Story
Our bodies experience our world in a direct way that our minds don’t. Our minds are able to create stories about what has happened and why, and it can often compartmentalize those stories. But our bodies feel everything, and experiences must be felt to be processed. Ask yourself these questions:
What was happening in my life around the time of the change in my body?
What has been happening since?
Does the shape my body is currently taking feel aligned with that experience in any way?
Our bodies need fat. It’s important for the functioning of so many of our body systems, including our brains. But weight changes can sometimes represent an emotional benefit. Weight gain can feel like a protective layer, and weight loss can sometimes feel like disappearing out of view. Our nervous systems are always seeking safety, and we will often subconsciously do whatever it is that feels safest, including gaining or losing weight.
When you close your eyes and tune into the current shape of your body, what do you notice about it? Does it feel safer than it once was?
If you’ve gained weight, does it feel protective in any way?
If you’ve gained weight in a particular area, is there something about that area that might need a little extra protection?
If you’ve lost weight, do you resonate with wanting to disappear or take up less space?
Do you need safety in another area of your life that could support your body in feeling safe in general?
Health and Wellness
Sometimes our bodies experience weight changes because of a good and healthy change in our lives. If we’ve been doing therapy, our bodies might gain or lose weight naturally as we develop internal feelings of safety and resolve the trauma responses that cause our bodies to be the shape they tend to be. If we’ve been physically unwell and working through gut issues, for example, there may be natural changes that we’re not used to that are actually good for us.
It’s sometimes hard to be logical about our weight because there is so much cultural baggage around what it means, so it’s very scary when our shape changes. It’s even hard to work this through with a doctor because medical assumptions about weight gain and loss are narrowly defined and don’t work for everyone. Here are some questions to consider:
Have you been healing from something physically or emotionally?
Are you listening to your fullness and hunger cues and finding that your weight is changing naturally?
Do you feel good in your body otherwise? Are you energetic, relaxed, and sleeping well?
When you consider the weight your body might want to be as opposed to the internal stories about what you think it’s supposed to look like, does this weight feel good?
Working on a loving relationship with your body is challenging, especially in a culture that is so obsessed with weight. If we consider our weight changes as a natural expression of what we’ve been going through, we can support our body’s internal sense of safety and give it what it needs. If you let your body talk to you about what these weight changes mean, what do you learn?
Experiment with these five ways to deal with body anxiety.