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The Shocking Link Between Stored Trauma and The Struggle To Lose Weight

Posted by Liz Tenuto on

Past trauma isn't just an emotional burden — it manifests physically too. And the health and wellness industry is only just beginning to unravel the profound connection between the psychological experiences and the physiological responses of trauma. And how that connection impacts multiple aspects of your life.

Unresolved trauma triggers the release of continuous stress hormones (like cortisol) into your body — which keeps your nervous system in constant preparation for a threat. And unfortunately, that leads to increased fat storage, especially around the midsection.

Your Body's Stress Response

There's a biological response that happens in your body when you undergo something traumatic. And it's called your stress response.

Your stress response initially evolved as a defense mechanism for being in situations of literal survival. But your nervous system doesn't know the difference between being in a survival situation versus experiencing a minor or major traumatic event. So your stress response will get activated when experiencing trauma too. And furthermore, if that trauma is ongoing (like living with extreme long-term stress or being in an emotionally abusive relationship), your stress response will become overly active, which causes extreme wear and tear on your body.

Understanding Trauma

Understanding trauma, itself, is pivotal here, as it deeply affects individuals in highly personal ways. Trauma can result from a single event or a series of experiences, evoking feelings of overwhelm and isolation. Whether physical, like an injury, or emotional, like the loss of a loved one, trauma is not solely defined by the event but by the emotional impact—feelings of helplessness, loss of safety, and the accompanying shock.

Trauma can linger as emotional baggage, manifesting in nightmares, anxiety, or a sense of being stuck in painful moments. Its effects are not confined to the mind; trauma can hijack the body's natural responses, making it challenging to cope with everyday life.

It's crucial to recognize that the experience of trauma varies for each individual, and so does the path to healing. It is acceptable to feel not okay while navigating through this process. Acknowledging the impact of trauma represents a brave first step toward reclaiming personal power and well-being.

Understanding the Physical Manifestation of Trauma

You might wonder how your trauma becomes 'stored' in the body in the first place. The concept might seem abstract, but its physiological underpinnings are concrete. When trauma occurs, the nervous system enters overdrive, activating the body's alarm system to signal danger. While this reaction is designed for short-term stress, in cases of trauma, the system may struggle to return to a relaxed state, perpetuating the production of stress hormones like cortisol.

And ongoing cortisol production in your body wreaks havoc on your overall health.  

Examining the Trauma-Cortisol Relationship

Cortisol, essential for survival, becomes problematic when excessive and prolonged. So being stuck in a perpetual stress response elevates cortisol levels, and this has significant repercussions. 

High cortisol interferes with sleep, induces cravings for sweets and carbs, and prompts the body to store fat, especially around the belly. It's akin to preparing for a crisis that never materializes. While the body is naturally wired to respond to stress, persistent stress leads to sustained cortisol levels, affecting overall well-being.

Regaining control involves signaling to the body that it's safe to relax. And techniques to lower cortisol levels are vital for achieving this. 

Unraveling the Connection Between Trauma and Weight

The perpetual high alert state associated with stored trauma makes weight loss challenging due to the dominance of cortisol. Cortisol signals the body to store fat for imagined fight-or-flight scenarios and disrupts hunger hormones, making you eat more. The body, stuck in stress mode, clings tightly to calories.

Understanding the role of cortisol in trauma is the initial step to break this cycle. Armed with knowledge, changes can be made to manage stress, lower cortisol, and bid farewell to stubborn belly fat. It's not just about shedding weight; it's about achieving balance and healing from within.

Somatic Exercises: Liberating Your Body from Trauma (And Lose Weight!)

Somatic Exercises emerge as a potent and holistic strategy to free the body from stored trauma, reduce cortisol levels, and facilitate sustainable weight loss. These intentional, mindful movements tap into the body's inherent wisdom, unlocking and releasing tension stored in muscles and tissues. This process fosters physical flexibility and strength while serving as a therapeutic outlet for emotional residues of trauma. As cortisol decreases through somatic practices, the body transitions from heightened alertness to a balanced, relaxed state. This not only alleviates mental stress but also supports a healthier metabolic environment, aiding in effective weight management.

Releasing trauma through somatic exercises is an empowering journey, not just shedding physical weight but liberating from emotional burdens, fostering harmony between mind and body.

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