My Year of Blogging Daringly
I have decided to commit myself to something radical in 2016. Something radical because I want something radical in return. Liberation. I am going to blog this year about my challenging relationship to food. That is not easy for me to say.
I firmly believe in the rightness of intuitive hunger eating. That is, eating when I am hungry, physically hungry; eating what my body calls me to eat, eating in real presence with and gratitude of my food (sitting and without distraction for example); and stopping the moment my hunger goes away. I know that this is the best means to my feeling both physically and emotionally fed when it comes to food. I also know that the weight I arrive at when I eat this way is the best weight for my body, something I call my “natural weight.” I have known this to be true for me since I was 17 years old. That said, such eating and my natural weight have remained illusive for the most part. I am passionate about the power of this way of eating for myself and for other people. I bring it to the world as the backbone of my mindful eating approach and help people see their emotional resistance to eating way. But the fact is, I also have deep resistance to eating this way.
Not always. Sometimes eating like this feels like the easiest thing in the world. When I am in love, for example. In fact, I recently told a friend that falling in love is my “weight loss elixir.” Of course, for it to work I have to first find a man interesting, he in turn has to find me interesting, and there has to be the right equilibrium of pursuit and captured moments. And it’s fleeting. It is that magic time right before a relationship really takes shape. Where you are so aware of the other’s presence that you blush at the thought of them. But alas, that does not happen every day. I cannot call it up on demand, as easily as for example, buying a copy of the latest diet book, joining Weight Watchers or eating a creamy Lindt milk chocolate bar.
Similarly, if I feel like I have a lot of support from friends in a solid social circle and my life is generally going well, then hunger eating is no problem. Sometimes it arises on vacation. I get filled with newness and excitement of a place or have a buoyant sense of freedom from the break in my routine.
Another significant way is by going on mindfulness retreats that centre around intuitive hunger eating. I have done some through my participation in the programs of my teacher Geneen Roth (and author of the life-changing book Women, Food & God). It is miraculous how easy and elegant intuitive hunger eating becomes. On retreat, I look at food when I am not hungry and think incredulously, “why would I ever think of eating that?” While that circumstance is much more under my control than love, it is expensive, time-consuming and only available twice a year. Definitely outside of the scope of every day life.
Once I am in the rhythm of this kind of eating, it usually lasts for a while, and I shed weight quickly and absolutely effortlessly. It is not the kind of weight loss that feels like I am stretching an elastic band and it is just a matter of time before it snaps back. No, there is no sense of equal and opposite reaction that so often comes along with dieting.
What happens instead is that I start to feel scared. I am either afraid of having to assert a boundary in some way that I don’t have to when I am not feeling good about myself. Or I feel afraid of the feeling of being “unrestrained” or “untethered.” I have come back from retreats feeling liberated. Then days later I am suddenly disempowered by an overwhelming sense of “the unbearable lightness of being.”
The liberation is a light and delighted sense of myself. This is opposed to often feeling like I am dragging some shameful shadow around with me–that is not me but makes me guilty by association with it and that I can’t get rid of. It is like my dirty little secret. I go from identifying with a free, pure sense of myself to being admonished that I am actually that shadow part. From there, a feeling of shame sets in that has me run to food to cover and protect myself from exposure, blame and unworthiness.
My weight is not a huge problem. Actually it is not a problem at all. I am the curvier side of average. I have been much bigger. I have been much smaller. My eating is pretty good. I’ve come a long way. That is important to recognize. What is interesting though is that I feel just curvy enough that I let it stop me from doing things I want to do because I feel unattractive and imperfect (aka unworthy).
But I feel better eating in an intuitive hunger way. It is not only the freedom of my body. It is also the freedom of my spirit. My eating is like the damper pedal on the music of my soul. I want to eat according to my physical hunger as the rule and not the exception. It is what I help others do and I want to help myself. I know it is possible. I know this in theory and I know this from my own experience. I don’t want to die having mostly lived as the shadow of myself.
I realize that in these moments I am carrying a deep sense of shame, and I don’t know what for. I want to figure that out. I want to face that. I want to free myself of that. According to shame researcher and author of Daring Greatly Brené Brown, leading a full and fulfilled life takes courage and vulnerability. So I am here to show up. I am blogging to make this a public journey. I open my path and my heart to others. If you are a fellow traveller or even a compassionate witness and feel inspired, please. Join me.