A common assumption is that weight loss is all about charts and an intense session of Pilates. Garima Gupta’s book ‘The Body Nirvana’ (HarperCollins) debunks this myth and several others related to health and the psychology surrounding weight loss. It concentrates on factors beyond just physiology and body and delves deep into the mind. The mind-body wellness coach feels that there is a need to reassure people that the reason they could not lose weight is not solely their fault. “People need someone to tell them that it is not because they are lazy or don’t have the willpower. There are certain emotions that are highly relevant to physical wellness and I wished to make people aware of those.”
The book highlights how people measure their self worth based on their waistline. “We have started objectifying bodies to ascertain self worth. We need to convey the message that our personal worth is about personhood.” According to her, the problem is not the calorie intake rather the feeling of worthlessness. It is a major contributor to weight gain and associated diseases. On the other hand, it is also difficult for a beginner to foray into losing weight simply because of the truckload of existing information. This “information obesity” can be very confusing and conflicting. For beginners, she recommends an understanding of their own self. “The very first question I ask is why do you want to lose weight. I would ask them to pause and reflect.” Moreover, she believes that it is important to work towards a specific goal, “once you have a specific goal, You will start working towards a holistic and natural weight loss. You will arrive at your own body shape.”
While most people are looking for the ultimate hack to a healthier body, Garima, a member of Indian Psychiatric Society, maintains that the key to a better lifestyle is related to one’s own individual effort. “The secret knowledge is simply that we gained weight for a reason and there is a need to identify it.” If the source of the weight gain is not identified, there is risk of addiction swapping or simply gaining the lost weight again. She also emphasises the importance of having a positive outlook towards life and acknowledging your own presence. “Before you brush your teeth look in the mirror and smile at yourself or if you are in an elevator instead of scrutinising yourself, just look up and smile.” She recommends keeping a gratitude journal and noting down all things you are grateful for.
Stress eating is a chronic ailment that many suffer from and can prove to be a serious hindrance to weight loss. According to Garima, stress eating is a coping mechanism and one should not curb the cravings as long as one is mindful of them. “Eat with full awareness and gratitude, so that by the end you feel so happy and relaxed that it has done its job. Otherwise you will extend your stress and add guilt to it.” Even then, if one wants healthier alternatives to munch on, she says dry fruits and nuts are a great option. While leading a healthy life is important, leading a fulfilling one is more important. She believes, “No matter how much you weigh, you are worthy and your worth does not come from how many heads you are turning.”