When the Universe Speaks, Listen

Sometimes the Universe speaks to me. You might call it God. I call it coincidence, but it’s fun to think the Universe is speaking to me. The day I decided to quit dieting, the battery on my scale died.

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Credit Wikipedia Commons

This is significant, because another first step to intuitive eating is letting the scale go. You might need to take a sledge hammer to it, or give it to a charity thrift store, or if the Universe is so aligned, let it take the juice from your battery. Because if you’ve been dieting almost your whole life, you won’t even know how to feel until you step on that thing. Sometimes I’d step on it twice in the same day, because using the bathroom might have changed the number. TMI? Anyway, that’s how I’d know how to feel about the day ahead.

So when the Universe spoke, and my battery died, I put it in a closet, and there it’s been ever since.

But as it turns out, there are several ways to measure your body and how it makes you feel for the day. And at the same time that I was trying to imagine what the scale would say if it hadn’t been rendered mute, I was learning the fine art of body acceptance.

The first few days of eating intuitively I went crazy with bananas and avocados. And amazingly, what was supposed to happen, happened. By the fourth day, bananas and avocados were no longer the forbidden fruits. They were just bananas and avocados. Eureka! I mastered it! This was going to be a snap.

That fifth day I had a hot fudge brownie sundae for lunch. I repeated that three times in the same week. But none the following week. A few months later I had another and realized that craving had probably run it’s course. So yes. I was getting it, but how many foods was I going to have run through? How many foods had I even forgotten were on my forbidden list? How long would this take?

Cream cheese? Why had I stopped eating cream cheese? Was it forbidden, or just disliked? Unlike a diet, these intuitive eating books didn’t offer a complete turn-around in 30 days. There was no 8-day foolproof detox for my diet-brain, and my list of demonized foods was long.

Donuts. Cake. Chocolate chip cookies. Sour cream. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Hot chocolate. Butter. Cheese. Mayonnaise. Ice cream. Candy. Full fat lattes. Pie. Pancakes. Toast. Fried chicken . . .

 

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Credit Wikipedia Commons

Oh . . Fried Chicken. Golden brown, steaming hot, perfectly seasoned, juicy, crispy, battered and fried chicken. For six months I ate chicken from every grocery store, family restaurant and fast-food chicken place I walked into. Colonel Sanders found his way into my hottest fantasies. I had chicken fingers for lunch. Deep fried chicken for dinner. Broasted, nuggets, tenders, wrapped sandwiches, wings, pretzel-bun sandwiches, salads; I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Until eventually I did.

 

But along with all my other food exorcisms, this took a toll on my pants size. Like I said, there are other ways to measure your body than with a scale. And while I think I could have learned to accept my body at any stage along the way, that goalpost kept shifting. Just when I was about to accept my body, it changed. So okay . . . let’s accept this size. Fried chicken for dinner? You bet!

What I learned is that the only way to fully accept the body you’re in, is to be in the present. This bears repeating.

The only way to fully accept the body you’re in, is to be in the present.

Because at any time your body can change. You could lose a limb. You could contract a disease. And yes. Your weight could change.

You only have the body you are in. Right now. You can never have the body you had ten years ago. You don’t know what body you will have ten years from now, or even tomorrow.

This is the body you are given today. This is your Universe. And it speaks to you.

Listen.

Peace . . .

To follow this story from the beginning, check out The View From Here

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There Is a Voice That Does Not Use Words

Quitting the diet scene wouldn’t be so hard if it weren’t so terrifying. It’s not just knowing what, when and how much TO eat. Four decades of intense diet mentality had proven to me that I couldn’t trust myself to STOP. Clearly, I couldn’t be left to my own devices without raiding the refrigerator or finding myself inexplicably in the nearest drive-thru.

Realizing I had a trust issue with myself sent me into a tail-spin. I pride myself in being trust worthy. It’s my brand. It’s who I am. If I say I’m going to do a thing, I do it. I’m reliable. You can count on me. Yet here I was saying that I couldn’t even count on me.

So I realize it gets a little weird because I talk about myself as if there are two of me. If you can keep all the Game of Thrones characters straight, this ought to be a breeze.

I decided I would have to actively work to rebuild the trust I’d lost with myself. I, being my best friend, was not going to allow this mistrust to ruin the relationship I’d thought we . . . er, uh . . . I shared. With myself. Try to keep up.

As you can imagine, healing trust issues takes time. It takes demonstrating consistent reliability to show that you can be trusted. It takes communication, which requires listening; lots of listening. And so I began the arduous task of listening to my body’s cues. Was I hungry? How hungry? Was I satisfied? Full? Overly full?

I didn’t hear anything. Nothing at all. I’d spent so many years letting diets talk over my own inner voice, telling it what I wanted it to say, that it had stopped speaking. I was afraid the voice had died. That I had killed it, and it would never speak again.

I listened harder. I mediated, and when I did I cried.

One day, I followed the tears to a corner of my heart where a child version of myself hid, alone and all but forgotten. I coaxed her out where the air was fresh, the sun shone, and bees buzzed. We were alone in a woods, and I let her lead me to the tiny things she found interesting. In silence, we found a connection; a trust in one another. She understood I would listen if she spoke, but that it was okay if she didn’t. Together we walked into the light and I awoke from my thoughts.

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Now, I know this all sounds a little woo-woo. But it was one of the many corners I’ve turned on this journey, and the thing about corners is that you never know what’s around them. This path I walk is big enough for the both of us, me and myself. Sometimes this inner voice speaks loudly, and the voice is wise and strong. And sometimes she speaks softly until I slow down enough to sit quietly and hear.

She still resides in my heart, but it’s a lovelier place. The inner child is doing some redecorating in there. It’s sunnier with flowers and colors — lots of colors that make me smile.

And I am no longer afraid to trust myself. Surely, I will make poor decisions that affect how I feel, but I trust myself to listen and learn. The pendulum will swing. Life has a way of balancing itself. How can I possibly be different?

Peace . . .

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The View From Here

Why Do I Eat When I’m Alone?

“Why do I eat when I’m alone?”

That’s what I typed into Google on a summer afternoon in 2016. The first few results mentioned binge eating. From there I followed the White Rabbit through a myriad of tunnels to eventually find the Queen of Hearts herself.

“Curiouser and Curiouser!”

Queen_of_Hearts_bookThe Queen was my disordered eating, born from a lifetime of diets and restrictions. She was stern, harsh and unreasonable. She lured me into each of her plans with promises of health, vitality, youth and virtue.

Vegan. Paleo. Weight Watchers. Plant-Based. Vegetarian. Atkins. Dash. Wheat Belly. Whole 30. No Sugar. Raw. 400-Calorie Fix. The Zone. SparkPeople. Noom. My Fitness Pal. 8-Hour. South Beach. Change One. Low Calorie. The Calorie Myth. 30-Day Vegan Challenge. Eat This, Not That. eDiets. NutriSystems. Forks Over Knives. Low Carb. Slim Fast. Thrive. VB6.  Eat to Live. And even a hybrid — Low-Carb Vegan . . . look it up.

It was that afternoon in my moment of clarity, I had watched myself sneak food the minute Bubba walked out of the house. I mean, he doesn’t judge me. We have plenty of food for both of us. Yet I was covering the evidence and hiding it like I had stolen the Queen’s tarts. And I typed, “Why do I eat when I’m alone?”

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to,” said the cat.

Alice_par_John_Tenniel_04Through the tunnels and turns, I learned the difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating. I learned that I needed to quit dieting. Cold. Turkey. Just like that. And so I did. Like an alcoholic setting the bottle down and making a personal pact with my soul, I promised myself I’d never diet again. Just listing those diets above was like smelling the acrid liquid in front of my lips. I wanted to revisit them. Read about and remember them. Employ just one healthy tip. Take one tiny sip.

I rid my shelves of all my diet books. There were tens of them. I deleted my diet apps and meal trackers. There were a dozen. I stopped following countless diet pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

“Who are YOU?” said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I-I hardly know, sir, just at present – at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

So, “Why do I eat when I’m alone?”

Over the years, the Queen of Hearts assigned a morality to the simple act of eating. There was good food and bad food. There were good times to eat and bad times to eat. Good and bad places and ways to eat. Snacking . . . from the fridge . . . standing up . . . without counting it . . . was a very baaaaad thing to do. In this harsh world of Wonderland, it was indeed equivalent to stealing the Queen’s tarts.

Every morning I’d wake up hopeful and ready to start my diet with a renewed sense of willpower. And every night when I laid my head to sleep, I’d hear her accusing words.

“Off with her head!”

Typically, I’m not a fan of those stories that end with the protagonist waking from her dream only to find out the whole story was a metaphor for life. But today I quite like the idea that my eyes are wide open. That I’m not lulled into the false dream that I need someone else to dictate what I should eat and when. I’m no longer thinking about food every minute of every day. What can I eat? What shouldn’t I eat? How much can I eat? Did I really eat that?

There are more important things to think about, like, what can I do? For what am I grateful? Who can I help? Who am I today?

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Peace . . .

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The View From Here

I’m a firm believer that walking can be a metaphor for anything in life. A journey of a thousand miles . . . the path less traveled . . . it’s not the destination, it’s the journey . . . the straight and narrow path . . . two steps forward, one back . . . am I right, or am I right?

I’ve been on a bit of a journey lately, and frankly, I was afraid to take you along. I thought you might jinx it. I felt fragile. Like writing about it might break it and I’d have to go back to the start. Besides, the introvert in me likes to travel alone, and you might talk too much. You might disturb my inner thoughts or suggest a different trail.

Well, I decided it might be good for me, and maybe even you, if I tell you where I’m at, what the terrain looks like, how far I’ve come, and maybe where I think I’m headed.

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The trail is called Intuitive Eating, and there’s a book by the same name. There are many books by other names, and social media pages you can find by Googling Body Acceptance, Self Compassion, Body Love, BoPo, and Anti-Diet. It’s a movement that encompasses bodies of every size, age, color and ability. It’s about inner peace and love, and you know I’m all over that.

I’m not a stranger to beginning a journey. I began anew every morning and by nightfall felt lost. I cried alone in the dark. At daybreak I’d set out again. It’s a cruel circle. I’m talking about dieting. I was a self-proclaimed, out-of-the-closet diet junkie. I’ve described it as trying to stand still in the surf. It’s impossible.

Wading into the water, there will come tides and surges. There is no controlling it, only adjusting to it. And sometimes you need to let the waves carry you in or out a little bit before you find footing again.

Dieting isn’t that. Dieting is willing yourself to stand still. Most of us just end up face-planted in the sand wondering what happened. Then we wake up and try the same thing the next morning, maybe from a different spot on the beach, exclaiming over the roar of the surf that, “Today we will stand!” And expect a different result.

I’m afraid I’m mixing up my metaphors, but let’s just imagine this trail meandered somewhere along the ocean and opened up on a beach. And that’s just it! I’m not sure exactly where this trail is going to go next. But I do know it’s already taken me to some awesome overlooks and some really rough terrain.

unnamed-1So if you can stand the poetic metaphors, I invite you to lace up your walking shoes and join me. If you just want to sit at home and read my posts from the couch, that’s okay too. I’m not a trail expert by any means, but I am an expert on the steps I’ve taken. There are historical centers and information booths I’ll point out along the way, but if you ask me, all I can tell you about is my own experience and send pictures of the view from here.

Peace . . .