You and I have been taught that eating should be "watched" instead of enjoyed.
That our weight is a measurement of BEAUTY and likeability, instead of body regulation.
That FOOD is something to fear, measure, hide, count, love, hate, and have will over.
And that chocolate is a guilty pleasure.
You and I have been taught that Hunger is a sign of weakness or of will power.
That weight is to be achieved, earned, worked for.
And that once you're a size smaller, you can finally start LIVING your life.
This Is Crazy.
Look, I know as a culture we've begun to change our thinking--about twiggy thin models, embracing our curves, and rejecting photoshopped images of impossible female frames. Barbies are starting to come in a few different sizes ya'll.
But WE'RE NOT YET TALKING about this secret shame.
And I've been in enough private conversations with women to know clearly what we've been hiding. I recognized myself in their stories. "I know what to do, I just can't seem to get myself to do it"-- this is the anthem of too many women. We're sick of all the striving and somehow, deep down, we know there must be another way.
I learned early (sometime around 12yrs old) that the world liked me better skinny, pretty and quiet and I played along. For most girls, our coming of age was initiated with our first attempts to get smaller, fit in and be attractive. Be skinny, pretty, quiet, and nice. That's the way to be accepted by everyone. And acceptance then is the key. Our rite of passage into womanhood is learning this.
It makes sense that we played along because it's in our DNA that our very survival is dependent on being accepted by the group. We learned along the way that to truly be embraced, we could make ourselves more desirable by controlling how others perceive us (hair, skin, nails, tight butt, right clothes, accommodating, sweet and friendly, and thin.)
It didn't matter that we turned our backs on our bodies then. No one even noticed. In fact, everyone did the same. There wasn't a Lorax there to blow the whistle. Instead, there was a role model teaching us the ropes. So we learned to eat in a messed up way...rationing tiny portions and reading a lot of lies about food and how to curb appetites. We fell in envy with images of skinny women in the magazines and shamed our bodies for not looking the same. And this shame followed us around for decades. On and on and on and on the cycle goes-- this battle with the wagon- on or off this week? Cheat day? And everyone was doing it.
And the life got sucked out of food and the pleasure out of eating. And our bodies turned into something to argue with, loath and control instead of nurture.
Some of you won't recognize yourself in this description because you've never really had a weight problem. But it's sneaky this "problem", often hiding in plain site. We're so embarrassed to admit there's angst here because we are conscious enough to know what a drag it is to talk about. But we are so unconscious of the negative things we say to ourselves-- it's a blind spot.
This is how it was for me.
Before I decided to go all in on my work to shine the light here- on women and food, I said to my best friend, "I'm not really all that connected to this. It was like a medium but not major problem for me because it wasn't THAT bad. On the outside, people wouldn't believe I ever struggled with food. I mean, people are suffering, ya know? And dang it, it IS such a drag to talk about, I'm so sick of it." And my soul sister said, "Are you kidding right now? You and I used to eat diet pills we bootlegged off the internet in college! I have listened to you obsess over having eaten a piece of carrot cake and then run it off for miles after! We were both always brainstorming on and on about our next plan to get skinny."
You see, there's a reason why I was so empathetic in my conversations with women about food...
I had forgotten. This was 15 years ago. It all started coming back:
The ways I tried to ward off hunger--The diet pills (we crushed them up for better results)-- hunger banished ! The coffee abuse.
The ways I comforted a bad life situation with food-- The swings through fast food during a sad afternoon selling advertising. The candy drawer in the congressman's office.
The starving campaigns--The days in junior high of just one single bowl of cereal for nourishment and then measuring how far my hip bones were sticking out before bed.
The purging campaigns-- The 10ish times I stuck my finger down my throat after eating too much on purpose.
The anxious episodes of over-exercising on purpose.
The shame I felt for being hungry.
The drinking, the distractions, the boys-- to disconnect from feeling chubby, or feeling anything.
I had hidden this from myself. Too ashamed to even claim this problem. My weight never fluctuated more than 10 pounds in my whole life. But it constantly fluctuated 10 pounds. I never developed a true "disorder." I flew under the radar. I was more “normal” than that. So really, who was I to call this a problem? Which is why I never gave it a second thought that there might be another way.
I was normal, sadly-- in the bathrooms and dressings rooms and closets with other women throughout my life (12yrs+), we were all sharing similar sentiments about our bellies, thighs, love handles and butts. We let each other know that we knew about the cellulite, gross, and we're working on it, still. Again. Always. We acknowledged our fat and signaled that we knew we were out of line-- priorities getting straightened out, stat. Promise.
Until it wasn't happening like this for me anymore.
I had freed myself from this weighted topic. I had evolved over the course of a decade. Slowly, surely and permanently. I healed my relationship to eating and to hunger and to my body.
I discovered the tools to make the shift. I learned from my health coaching clients. I learned from my teachers. I learned from myself. And I've created a map.
What got connected in the re-wiring?
I got IN my body - out of my head.
I learned myself and how to get comfortable in my skin (and jeans.)
I learned food and how to really enjoy cake and not be anxious at Thanksgiving dinner.
I moved more gracefully and respected my capabilities.
I changed my internal conversation.
I changed my external conversation.
Peace came over me.
And balance and ease and flow came into my eating habits.
Pleasure came in too.
And balance and ease and flow came to my weight.
Without all the distraction, I discovered how to enjoy the moment. Other things could have my full attention. I became awake; more available to my friends, more creative with my career, more confident and probably more fun to be around.
And contentment came in-- not claiming that self love and acceptance isn't always a next level game, or that balance doesn’t always get tipped. But I finally knew what peace tasted like.
And here's what I know to be true:
It's time for a revolution. I'm sick of talking about your weight with you and I know you are too. You're life can be much BIGGER than this and you know it. I want this for you because I know it’s possible to live free from the angst. I'm heartbroken when I hear another story of disfunction. And I know this problem is still all too common. It's not just about size and embracing our curves. But about changing the way that we eat, making it sacred again, and discovering what we're truly hungry for. As women, we need to revolutionize our eating mindset and the way we live in our bodies. This will change our legacy and the generations of women to come (because what are we teaching our daughters?) And women, freed from this secret shame about eating and being at odds with our bodies, will be freed up to contribute our gifts, which will ultimately transform the world we live in.
I think of this question of Mary Oliver's, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" I'm pretty sure the answer isn't "To think about food, eating, and dieting all day, everyday and to shame my body til the day I die.”
See what I'm getting at?
This whole eating thing is a DISTRACTION keeping you from your bigger life! It was a total distraction from mine! I mean really, think about how much energy, resources and attention it takes to "watch" your weight or appearance, or to not ruffle anyone's feathers and be sweet. What could you do with that time, money and freedom on your hands if you were over this?
So here's an invitation...
Let's learn to get IN our bodies, let's learn hunger, let's learn food, let's learn weight...and then let's teach it to our daughters.
True Hunger - empowered eating, full life
Next program begins early 2018