Holistic Counseling + Integrative Health

The Freeze Response: Your Nervous System’s Response to Harsh Lifestyle Changes

Six years after completing the show The Biggest Loser, most contestants gained the their weight back. Reason for that as per National Institute of Health Institute was their slow metabolism. What shocked researcher most is that their metabolism stayed slow 6 years after the show, when it should have gone back to normal. I like of offer an alternative explanation. It is my understanding that the contestants' metabolism got stuck on 'freeze'. A response seen in individuals as physiological response to trauma, initiated by the extreme military drill style and drastic diet changes. The show chose to put contestants on an extreme weight loss, military drill regime. Both exercise and diet were implemented without transition. Those changes were too much, too fast and too soon not taking the individual's state into consideration. If you were to measure the activity of the nervous system of the contestants, you would have seen that their nervous system was highly activated. The program as well as the dietary changes were, too much, too fast and too soon. Further, the underlying issue of the weight gain was not inquired into. Often an important life events (injury, illness, childbirth, menopause as well as trauma often stemming from childhood) precedes weight gain. Food in this case is a way of coping with the unprocessed traumatic charge and emotions. Stephen Porges' Polyvagal Theory shows that early life traumatic experiences cab rewire neurological pathways (endocrine/metabolic) as an adaptive means of survival. In this case brain and nervous system change in response to early environmental and social influences, before individuals had the capacity to choose alternative options. Now imagine the stacking of events ... Individuals with highly activated nervous systems, with life events that were often traumatic, put on a high stress "too much too fast too soon" programs. A metabolism that stayed frozen 6 years post show. Read More