Last year, after the Holidays were over and the last of the tree needles were swept up, I split my snow pants. Like, not just a little opening in a seam, I’m talking full split down the back crack. That’s what deep bending and shoveling off the skating rink will get you.
Yeah, they were my dad’s and already pretty tight, but still. The hosting, eating and drinking from the Holidays had caught up with me and I was ready for my usual January purge.
I’m not describing anything terribly new here, but what followed was the usual banning of certain things (dairy, sugar, wheat, alcohol) and the increased consumption of other things (avocados, sweet potatoes, dates, kale, coconut milk, cauliflower, pecans).
What followed suite however was new. Rather than feel good and fresh about my latest Whole30, I was angry at myself for being 36 and still needing to devote so much fucking brain space to food. Sure the 5 pounds were lost, but I was miserable and had diarrhea. For years I essentially fueled myself with the message that I was not good enough and through food I could be re-born happy and whole. Thin.
Three pregnancies, over 300 pounds gained and lost in 20 years.
Shocking is the only way I can explain it.
So with the empty cans of coconut milk and the date pits littering my kitchen counter, I said Fuck it. I’m done with this food game.
And a few days later, I broke my arm. And unleashed what would be a pivotal time for me, one where the message of acceptance got so loud I couldn’t ignore it anymore. So I started meditating, I started drawing again. I was happier. I still struggled with the food at times, eating when I wasn’t hungry, eating more than I needed, but I still lost 10 pounds. Without even trying.
I was infinitely happier than at my thinnest.
I’ve recently read Women Food and God by Geneen Roth. This book is like getting a sharp high five in the face. The high five feels fun, but it hurts. By then end of it, I realized that those pages held the keystone to my food stuff.
She argues that if we let ourselves be who we truly are, instead of trying to fill ourselves with food, validation, alcohol, social media or anything else in between, then we inevitably end up making the right choices.
Basically, trust yourself, trust your body and listen to what it really needs.
Outrageous!! To a self proclaimed Dre Jeckyll and Mrs Hyde and as a righteous abstainer, there is empirical data showing exactly why I should NOT trust myself around quesadillas, bagels, or an untended tray of
roasted cauliflower chicken nuggets. Having abstained from eating those foods for so long, they are precisely what I need to fill up the hole I created by – wait for it- abstaining from eating them in the first place…. duh!
So why is it the concept of trusting ourselves seem so difficult?
Well for one, we’ve maybe gotten ourselves fired while on a bender that involved a $1000 bottle of champagne… maybe.
We’ve disappointed people when we’ve said no
We’ve disappointed people when we’ve said yes
We’ve drank too much at weddings, on tuesdays and at baby showers
We were kinda shitty for all of 2000-2002
We carry with us so much baggage filled with the evidence of our past failures, that really, it’s just easier to not trust ourselves.
So at the end of the day it’s not the carbs, the fat or the calories that matter. What matters is the shame, the fear, the embarrassment, the guilt, the pain.
When we binge, we act upon those emotions. We count on the binge to relieve us from our day, our work, our kids, our families and our selves. But when we accept and recognize all that baggage and we decide to let it go, Roth proposes that we begin to drink when we’re thirsty, to shop for what we need and to eat until we’re full. In the act of nourishing our bodies, we in fact face ourselves and enact self-acceptance.
And as I write this, I realize that this most sound pretty basic and normal to some of you or maybe it’s totally new to you, or maybe you’re like GEEESUS, what the hell are you smoking Villedary. For years I looked outside of myself to learn what to eat, what exercise to do and how often I needed to repeat to get ________. So realizing that in fact, what I need is not another program, or another goal (those are fine when the motivations are from the right place), no what I need is trust. Trust that I don’t have to fuck shit up if I don’t want to, and that I can trust ALL of myself, not just the part that can abstain from bread for 3 years.
And so, as we round up to a big weekend, I am urging you (and me, who are we kidding here) to not torture yourself with bread, dessert, canapes, wine, champagne. Do not set up rules about what foods and you can and can’t eat. Avoid the false systems of rewards and punishments (eat this and exercise tomorrow). Nope, allow yourself to to eat when hungry, to stop when full. To know what’s good for you and honor yourself (your whole Self) with nourishment and trust.
Catch you on the Flip Side.