Sunday, July 3, 2011

Reconnecting the Body Disconnect

Over my lifetime I have been friend and foe to my body.

I think I have been more of a friend to my body since my major injury and back surgery put me in the hospital and I learned to marvel at the wonders my body had to heal itself and carry me through all that pain and lack of strength.

The odd thing was, I didn't really "move" at all for 2 weeks, lying in my hospital bed on "do not move" orders from the surgeon and I lost 20lbs. My body just shed weight.  I actually ate more food and lost weight.

Why? How? I was stressed before I made it to hospital. I was in a great deal of pain that I couldn't manage. My body was broken and I couldn't fix it.  I put on weight for 6 weeks before I was taken to hospital in the ambulance.

So how did I lose 20lbs while lying in a hospital bed, ostensibly only burning calories through sleep and lifting my arms to feed myself?  I think it was because I wasn't stressed. I knew that I was in the hospital, my pain was fully and completely managed and I was going to have surgery to fix my busted spine.  I had nothing to worry about.  My cortisol levels decreased dramatically and I shed unnecessary weight.

I have discovered that whenever I'm feeling stressed - and I focus on the FEELING part - that I gain weight.  I could be working out more, swimming more, eating less, being more busy and I will still gain weight.  As soon as I feel pressure, stress, insecurity for any reason, my body goes to work preparing for uncertainty and famine by storing excess energy.

I don't tell it to, it just goes ahead and watches my back that way.

I have inherited a genotype and phenotype that must have been ridiculously advantageous in the Evolutionary Environment where my human ancestors won the natural selection war by storing energy as soon as the environmental pressures indicated change or stress.  My genetic lineage has been finely honed to survive harsh winters, lean times, times of uncertainty and food insecurity.

Only problem is, I'm living in 2011 and not 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age.

I have found that when I'm feeling stress, I disconnect from my body awareness.  My animal brain busies  itself with the task of keeping me alive during a crisis while I focus on the stress.

When I wake up from my disconnect I have inevitably gained an unwanted 20lbs and rail against my body for being so damned efficient.  This only serves to disconnect me even further from my body.

My amazing body keeps me breathing, keeps my heart beating, heals itself when I break it, keeps going when I don't want to any more and puts up with any manner of tortures I decide to put it through.

I get angry at my body for doing what it has been genetically hardwired to do, for MY survival, over millennia of trial and error and genetic mutation and adaptation.

I have decided I must be mindful of my body and not just my mind. Though I live fully in my mind when I'm experiencing stress and my cortisol levels shoot through the roof, triggering my energy storage, I must stop and think of what this does to my body and how I punish it for doing it's job.

I'm not going to punish myself or my body for being so efficient in the face of perceived physical, emotional or resource danger.  I just have to figure out how to take back the reigns, relax into knowing everything is going to be ok and let my body feel that too.

I have to reconnect to that hospital bed, to the feeling of being totally safe and taken care of....even when the sheep dip is hitting the fan.

Photo of Venus courtesy of Clarita at see further work at

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