As I scan the New York Times Bestseller’s list week after week, it kills me to notice how many bestselling books are about yet another diet or exercise regimen guaranteed to help you lose weight so you will finally be thin enough/ pretty enough/ good enough/ [insert your deepest insecurity] enough. Blech! No wonder so many people struggle with weight control when the weight loss and beauty industries focus on teaching you to hate yourself thin.
As much as I resent the weight loss industry for pressuring people into eating disorders, triggering their self-loathing, and leading to unhealthy yo-yo diet habits that don’t benefit the health of the body, mind, or spirit, when I read Jessica Ortner’s The Tapping Solution For Weight Loss & Body Confidence, my soul let out a resounding “Hell yeah!” As a physician fully aware of the many health benefits of maintaining a healthy weight, I’ve long been on the lookout for a book I could recommend to patients who were ready to get off the dieting treadmill and really do the internal work necessary to achieve an optimally healthy weight.
Look no further. The Tapping Solution For Weight Loss is exactly that book.
As the author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, I’ve joked that I might one day write a book called Mind Over Weight Loss, because the research I’ve done has led me to believe that our minds play a much greater role in our weight than what we eat or how much we exercise. Now I don’t need to write that book. Jessica Ortner already has.
I know it’s radical to suggest that the solution to weight loss might lie more in the realm of the mind than in the mouth, the stomach, or the gym. How could that be? I’ll give you one hint – the stress hormone cortisol.
I’m not saying that diet and exercise don’t matter. Of course they do. But I’ve cared for morbidly obese women who eat nothing but celery and work out twice a day. I’ve also cared for women with healthy weights who regularly consume pasta, pizza, and red wine while lounging on the sofa. We like to blame hormones, metabolic rates, or genetics, but many of these women who struggle with their weight have perfectly functioning thyroids and skinny parents, and many of the thin women have heavy parents and under-active thyroids. There is clearly a piece of the weight loss puzzle that diet, exercise, and even hormone books have been missing.
The essential missing link is the relationship between what Walter Cannon at Harvard called the “stress response” and it’s link to the “fight-or-flight” hormone cortisol. As a culture, we’ve normalized stress. We wear it like a badge of honor and have come to believe that it’s something unavoidable, like death or taxes. Yet, this is a limiting belief you might try “tapping” on!
While research shows that most of us experience over fifty stress responses per day, EFT (or “tapping”) offers a powerfully effective, potent tool for counteracting stress responses, not just when we’re in the middle of them, but permanently. By getting the nervous system out of the sympathetic nervous system of the stress response and into its opposite, the parasympathetic nervous system, or what Herbert Benson at Harvard termed “the relaxation response”, EFT prepares the hormonal milieu that allows weight loss to occur, even without changing your diet or exercise patterns. Obviously, this works best if you do both, but even if you only add tapping to your daily regimen without changing other lifestyle habits, you’re likely to lose weight, simply because your cortisol levels will drop and your body doesn’t feel compelled to hold onto the fat it assumes you’ll need to get you out of danger when your nervous system is in a stress response.
In addition to teaching you practical tools that will help you abort and reduce stress responses, Jessica’s book guides you through learning to love and accept your body just the way it is, adorable pudge and all. You’ll be instructed how to use tapping to deal with the panic that tends to show up when you’re obsessing about weight loss. You’ll also learn tools to help you deal with how you may be using food or alcohol as a way to numb your feelings and how the shame you may feel around this only makes you eat or drink more. You’ll be instructed on how your past experiences, especially limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors you learned in childhood, may be keeping you from having the body you desire, and you’ll be guided through how to heal those beliefs and behaviors once and for all. You’ll be taught to deal with any issues you have around exercise and your relationship with food, so that by healing the root of what’s holding you back, you can focus on pleasure instead of deprivation and body confidence instead of body loathing. (Yum!)
Mostly what I love about this book is that it is about extreme self-compassion. Hating yourself skinny simply doesn’t work. The only way you will lose weight and keep it off is if you learn to accept and approve of yourself, even with love handles. Then from this place of radical self love, you will naturally want to nurture your body with things like nourishing foods and movement that lights up your spirit. If you’ve struggled with loving and accepting yourself as you are, this book is the North Star that will guide you home to the beautiful, glorious, whole being I know you to be.
How do I know this about you? Because within you lies a little spark of divinity, and it is that spark of you that already has all that you need to have all that you want – including a healthy body. This is not yet another self-help or diet book that will leave you feeling crappy about yourself. I don’t mean to get all “woo woo” spiritual on you, but I feel strongly that if you’re ready to stop forcing your weight loss and start fully surrendering to letting the Divine take the lead in your life, and if it’s in the highest good that you lose the extra weight you’re carrying, you will be supported by the Universe in your attempt to get healthier. Why would you think the Divine would abandon you when it comes to weight loss?