With spring in full swing, many people are ready to shake off the heaviness of winter. Yes, it means you can now go outside and play, but it also means you can’t do it while hiding behind your winter clothes.  Shame, self-loathing, and a sense of panic to lose weight NOW are only further fuelled by those ads urging you to “get ready for bikini season.” Well, what if you didn’t have succumb to those pleas to “melt away layers of fat” – what if there was a better way?

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about shedding more than just your winter coat and that extra weight. Instead of focusing just on losing weight, think about the internal layers that need to be shed so that your inner “happy and healthy” self can break free!

The Layers that Keep Us Stuck

Here are some of the different levels of layers that make us who we are (from the outside in):

Physical layers:

* Stuff: a lot of household clutter is a sure sign that you’re hanging on to a lot of “stuff.” The things we keep are often tied to the past and future, not the present.  We either can’t get rid of an item because it reminds us of something from our past, or hold onto it because it might be useful in the future (“I’ll get around to it some day!”).  Either way, you end up feeling buried and trapped by it.

* Clothing: our personal sense of style (or lack thereof!) makes a statement about how we want people to see us.  We can either let our beauty shine through, or stay hidden behind drab, lifeless or baggy clothes.

* Weight: although we can’t change our bodies the way we can change our clothes, the amount of weight we carry can act as both as a statement (stick-thin ideals be d*mned!) and as a self-protective barrier.  While almost no one chooses to be overweight, it can sometimes, paradoxically, be a comforting place to hide.

Psychological layers:

* Habits: these are ways of doing things that provide a sense of structure and routine (and of course, safety).  The foods you consistently choose and the activities that fill your days are what create your reality.

* Limiting beliefs and attitudes: most of us are the prisoners of our own minds.  All that self-talk about what you can and cannot do, what you deserve, and what you are capable of, again, create your reality.

* Fear and doubt: these are the powerful allies of our limiting beliefs.  They say, “Stop!  This is unsafe!  Don’t you dare change a thing.” But if you don’t push through those feelings, you’ll never experience the exhilaration of expanding your world.

* Social layers: we all have different masks we wear in different social situations.  Some of these are appropriate and necessary, but sometimes you might find yourself rigidly attached to those social masks and unable to be yourself.

* Spiritual layers: these include the deepest layers of who we truly are and what we believe our place in the world is.  When we are disconnected from the flow and beauty that life has to offer, it’s time to examine the barriers we’ve put up around us.

How to Shed Those Layers

There are a few steps you can choose from to start peeling back the layers.  See which ones resonate most with you.

* Start on the outside.  Are there some changes you can make to your personal sense of style to reflect who you’d like to be?  Adding more colour, using accessories and dressing your best can go a long way in boosting your self-confidence.

* Examine your habits.  Remember that the flipside to safety is stuckness.  Are there things you do repetitively because they feel comfortable and safe?  Trying something new or different can help you stretch out of your comfort zone.

* Pay attention to your self-talk.  Are there things you are saying to yourself that are keeping you stuck, unhappy or overweight?  Try challenging those statements or developing new ones to replace them.

* Experiment with being yourself and speaking your truth more often. While scary, you might find yourself feeling more liberated than ever!

As you shed each layer, you uncover the truth of who you are.  And as that happens, you’ll find yourself feeling the joy of living your best life, and wanting to take care of the body that houses that person.  The focus will shift from trying to lose weight to letting it simply drop away as the inner layers keeping you trapped fall away themselves.

In my work, my greatest joy is seeing my clients have a breakthrough moment. Some old habit or limiting belief gets discovered and let go, like an article of clothing that no longer fits.  As they take a moment to process how profoundly their lives have changed in that one instant, I know that we have accomplished something great: the unique and beautiful person I could see beneath all the layers has finally come to life.