If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I’m usually trying to point out the links between our mental and spiritual health and our physical health, because the world generally treats physical health as a closed system that only depends on sleep, diet and exercise, as though our brain has no other impact on what’s going on with our bodies.
My approach is very different: if the body is feeling a problem, it’s because it’s only manifesting some issue the soul is having, which comes out in the emotions, and then if it isn’t dealt with and / or acknowledged, that shows up as a physical health problem.
This is particularly true of chronic health issues including aches and pains.
So, when my back started feeling weak a few months’ ago, I knew it was connected to the terrible stress I’d been under. What still caught me by surprise, however, is that when the back muscles started to weaken, my lower stomach muscles went with them, and all of a sudden, I had a pot belly.
I’m 44, and I’ve NEVER had a pot belly, not even after my kids were born. I’m not a ‘skinny’ person, but that’s just not an area that I tend to carry my flab in.
Again, I was so preoccupied and stressed out, it took a while for this to register, let alone for me to start figuring out what to do about it. But then my clothes (which are all designed to fit a slimmer waist and bigger bottom) started to feel pretty uncomfortable, and even in the midst of all the stress and upset, the penny dropped I had to get to grips on the situation from the body, up.
Stomach fat is fed by stress, directly, and in turn, it feeds stress. The fat cells produce a lot of cortisol, which is a ‘stress hormone’, and cortisol produces fat cells, in a yucky vicious cycle that is still very poorly understood.
That’s why even if you’re watching your diet and exercising regularly, you may still develop stomach fat if you’re never-endingly stressed.
So, this is what I’ve started doing to try to take down the flab:
1)Start walking and talking to God, ideally for an hour a day.
I was talking to God at home for an hour a day, but I realized I have to start moving around more, and as I am anyway talking to God then, and as I often get even better insights when I walk and talk, combining the two is a really excellent way of getting on top of the fat-causing stress from the spiritual side, while also burning more calories from the body side of things.
‘Enough’ is not a fixed part of the equation here. The experts often say 8 hours, but really most parents just can’t manage that regularly, so I can’t think that MUST be what we need to be getting to function properly.
I recently read that if you have a good, relaxing sleep even just one night a week, or a good snooze in the day even just one day a week, you live as long as people who get a regular 8 hours every night. This makes more sense to me, as it fits in with God’s ‘shabbos’ paradigm, where one day a week, we have a day of rest.
To put this another way, that Shabbos shluff is actually holy and helping you live longer.
3)Use Rescue Remedy liberally.
Rescue Remedy is a Bach Flower remedy, and it really does help to reduce subliminal stress – that feeling of being wound-up without even really knowing why. If you’re having troubles going to sleep or staying asleep, try the night version. Otherwise, swig down some drops whenever you are feeling ‘stressed’. (The drops are certified kosher, the sweets and pastilles aren’t, at least not in Israel.)
4)Do some exercise specifically to strengthen your stomach / back muscles.
So, I was walking around for six months already, and doing all the above, but the pot belly barely shrank (although I do feel much healthier and fitter again, BH, and have more energy).
It suddenly struck me, dunce that I am, that I actually might need to re-strengthen the muscles in my stomach and back that went all weak a while back, so they can hold my stomach back in the right place.
I hate, hate, hate gyms.
I can’t do things like play tennis or basketball like I used to, not least for tznius reasons, so then what?
Enter: HASfit, a Youtube outfit that actually has some good videos made by people who believe in keeping their clothes on and not frying your brain out with terrible music. (Much rarer than you might think, in our day and age). Even better, they have a whole range to pick from, including five minute work outs for middle aged women who haven’t properly exercised for years.
And the last thing to tell you is that some of their videos are even suitable for men, like the two I’m linking to in this post, which only has Coach Kozak doing his thing in a very tznius setting.
I’m still at the beginners stage, but after doing 5 minutes of easy stomach exercises 3-4 days a week, I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel, BH. So, put your blanket down on the floor, wear something suitable, and hit play!
(The first one, above, is for beginners, and anyone can do it, or at least, make a brave attempt. The second one, below, is much harder, but you can move on to that once your stomach muscles grow back.)
I know I’m not the only one having stress-induced stomach flab issues. And even though I’m working on the flab-causing-stress from the top down, sometimes we also have to work on the stress-causing-flab from the bottom up, too.