Hello my name is Heidi and I’m absolutely fascinated by what makes us human. We are all uniquely interesting and the stories that lie behind who we are, how we behave and what makes us happy as individuals are equally fascinating.
I’ve recently being musing about the meaning of life, and I’ve landed upon this explanation for myself, which is that the meaning of life is simply to experience and to create. Our human body’s (the machine) are born equipped with the most intricate sensory input devices which enable us to see, hear, touch, smell and taste the external world around us AND the most incredibly amazing internal systems which enables us to experience feelings within the body.
But what do feelings have to do with my struggle free weight loss journey?
If I asked you right now what makes you happy, sad, angry, peaceful etc what would you say? Would you respond with reference to the current status of something that is external to yourself, or would you respond by referencing your current internal state? There is of course no right answer to my question, because the answer will be as unique to you as you are to the world. However, there is one underlying human truth that is very difficult to dispute, and that is that the quality of your life is defined by how you feel.
When we think about the desire to achieve our goals (maybe such as attaining a certain body weight) or to bring our dreams to life, are we acting out of an expectation that the attainment of that particular achievement will result in us feeling a certain way e.g. happy, peaceful, fulfilled, excited, complete etc? What if we instead considered that the feelings we have about the day-to-day experiences whilst pursuing are dreams already ARE the very things that make us feel that certain way?
What is it that determines how we feel on a day-to-day basis? The answer is both simple and yet complicated, because whether you are aware of it or not, the answer is that it’s all about how you go about meeting your human needs. Every human has these needs – they are woven into the very fabric of life, we just all go about fulfilling these in slightly different ways.
Chances are the way you are currently going about meeting your needs are ways you have been taught to do by others, by modelling their way of meeting their needs, which they in turn have learned from the generations before them.
If/when a need is being met, it really doesn’t matter if that way serves us positively or impacts us negatively, the determining factor is that the need itself is being met. Once we establish a way to meet our needs (mostly learned during the first 7 years of life) we then take this pattern along with us into adulthood….maybe right up until the day we get metaphorically smacked in the face with our own patterns by the mirror of life!
So what actually are these needs? There are many different models of human needs, probably the best known is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but the one I generally use with clients is The Six Human Needs designed by Tony Robbins. This model is broken down into 2 parts, the Four Needs of the Personality and the Two Needs of the Spirit.
Everyone will find ways to meet their needs and these ways may be either empowering, dis-empowering or neutral to their lives. Thoughts, emotions or actions that fulfill at least three of the below needs in a person’s life are highly likely to evolve into persistent ongoing patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviour, evolving into what we most commonly refer to as someone’s personality.
1 – SIGNIFICANCE – Sense of being needed, importance, uniqueness, purpose, meaning, separation. Examples: Accomplishments, gossip, perfectionism, self-absorption, violence, manipulation of others or situations, possessions, having reliant family members, relationships, giving advice, busyness, judgement, criticism.
2 – CERTAINTY – Security, known way to produce, reduce, eliminate or avoid pain or to produce pleasure. Examples: Controlling self, others or situations, consistency, learned helplessness, self-identity, faith, food, alcohol, drugs, application of strategy/techniques, jobs/relationships/locations, learning, busyness, judgement, criticism.
3 – VARIETY – Excitement, way to produce challenges, differences, diversity, stimulation. Examples: Manipulation of others or situations, learned helplessness, self-identity, faith, food, alcohol, drugs, sabotage of self or others, changing jobs/relationships/locations, learning, busyness.
4 – CONNECTION / LOVE – Bonding, sharing, intimacy, trust, meaning, vulnerability, support, feeling part of something. Examples: Friendships, relationships, social food, alcohol and/or drugs, teams/gangs, sympathy, getting others to comply, sex, pets, nature, offering support, providing advice.
This model suggests that it is only by meeting these two additional needs that humans are able to experience sustainable joy vs. momentary pleasure. These are the needs that shift humans past the sense of struggle of using their willpower to overcome challenges, to instead use their inner power to guide them.
5 – GROWTH – Expansion of self, learning, development, becoming aware, emotional intelligence. Other ways to describe = self exploration. Examples: Learning, challenges, seeking feedback, reading/watching/exploring, mindfulness.
6 – CONTRIBUTION – Service to others. Other ways to describe = common unity, purpose. Examples: Being present with others, community work, work, charity donations, offering support without expectations for reciprocation.
But what does any of this have to do with food and my weight loss journey?
Well, my experience was that when I felt excited, nervous, happy, upset, stressed or tired, food was always on hand, particularly when my need for Connection was not being met.
What I was experiencing in the pit of my stomach as either hunger or an unconscious drive to feel full, was actually different emotions which were trying to signal to me that some of my human needs were going unfulfilled in my relationships with both others and myself. Have you ever had the experience of being super jazzed about a new opportunity or something that has just happened, which you then excitedly share with someone else and they start making comment that totally take the wind from your sails or simply make no comment at all and go off on their own tangent? This leaves you feel super deflated right?
If I think about what my needs were in that moment of sharing being for Significance, Variety, Connection and Growth – when someone then responded out of their need for Certainty by maybe making comments like ‘yes, but what about’, finding worse case scenarios, ‘what you should do is’ mode or jump straight into talking about them and their experiences, my needs are simply not being met. And yet, my need for Connection would continue to keep me doing the same thing over and over with that same person, expecting a different response. The exhausting cycle of Excited, Sharing, Deflation and then eating Food is set in motion.

The interesting thing about life is, when you are in a cycle like this trying in vain to meet your needs based on the responses of others, you tend to attract people who are higher in the paradoxical need into your world. The more my need for Variety was trying to express itself, the more I would seemingly have experiences of banging up against others needs for Certainty and Significance which were being expressed through judgement, criticism, jealousy and or friend groups talking negatively about me behind my back. My need for Connection was being met in these relationships, but just not in a positive way that served me.

In hindsight, I recognise was trying to meet my human needs in life through external connections, instead of strengthening my own inner connections by doing what I felt was right for me, regardless of what others thought, said or did. There is no peace to be found anywhere else, other than within. What I needed was Growth and Contribution instead.
The moment I understood that the feeling I had in my stomach was actually hunger for inner Connection not food, was the moment my struggle with weight ended immediately. No strict diet, no unsustainable workout routine, just an inner change – an exorcism of the ghost from the machine.