Photo credits Susanne Menge
Write your own book.
What? You twist up your face and wonder if I've lost my mind. Stay with me here.
Write your own book. I'm not kidding.
Right now, start, this moment with a clean slate and nothing but blank pages to fill with expert advice to yourself.
You are The Only Expert.
You are the only one who can distinguish between physical and emotional hungers, recognize unmet needs, and identify those hungers that are so often misunderstood, the hungers for love, compassion, and acceptance. And you are the only one who can satisfy all those hungers. When you write your own book, page by page, you will find what truly nourishes your soul and food, once again, will nourish your body without fear, guilt or punishment.
Daunting? Yes. I know.
Do it anyway. No one else can.
I'll share a story...
I grew up in a culture where weight, beauty, wealth and appearance mattered. (Ah, funny, you did, too?) All at the expense of happiness, joy, relaxation and play!
I remember a few things from my privileged, middleclass childhood:
- As a young girl I was too quiet and the teachers worried, so I got louder. (Pleased them.)
- I started dieting at 8 years old. (Something must be wrong with me.)
- I was told 'you could stand to lose some weight' by my beloved swim coach. (If he says so, I will.)
- The bathroom scale told me if I had been a "good girl" or "bad girl" that day, based on an arbitrary number I had decided was 'right'.(Daily torture.)
I listened and absorbed and tried to mold myself into the girl everyone said I should be. They were the experts, the people in authority and they knew better than I did. Coaches, teachers, parents, all of them had my best interests at heart didn't they?
I was never told to listen to my inner voice, to trust myself.
Even though at moments there were knots in my belly and doubts in my mind, I tried to follow their dictates instead of that voice inside that said 'this is wrong'. It wasn't until my second pregnancy that I quit trying to feed my body the "right" way, according to someone else's rulebook. I quit playing the tape of negative messages in my mind. I vowed to find peace with my body and mind.
I learned in fact there was not one right way to eat, exercise or live. Every expert contradicts the other and I was the only one who could make appropriate decisions for mwah! I didn't have an eating problem that needed to be fixed I had a hearing problem. I needed to learn how to tune into my voice, stand on my own two feet, and love me! Then food could return to its role of being fuel for my physical body.
This opened me up to something I had never acknowledged before -- a scary reality -- I needed to lead my own life rather than follow the advice of others. I had to start trusting my own insights. I had to become the author of my own story.
I still eat for reasons other than pure physical hunger, I don't know if that dependency will ever be completely gone. But I no longer believe that counting calories, exercising more, or depriving myself of chocolate is the answer. When I find myself eating even one bite beyond physical hunger I become curious and try to identify what is going on in me that I am not willing to love this body enough to stop, to find what I am anesthetizing with food.
But the much bigger gift, the life altering insight that I want to scream from every mountaintop that you learn from this process is this -- you can trust yourself. You begin, one breath, one cookie, one meal, one moment at a time and start to believe that little voice inside. Once you start listening to that voice and take back your power with food, you begin to realize you can do it in every area of your life. You stop betraying yourself and "voila," a bit like magic, the world around you no longer looks so scary. Because you can trust you!
Now is the time to take back your power, now is the time to write your own book. Take the first step by deciding right now to question everything you have been taught about diets and weight. Your weight is a reflection of the weights you carry inside, handed to you by the outside world. You can choose to stop carrying them. Absolutely there are body types, genes, different physiologies but a great majority of the weight we carry in our culture is the kind that we carry because we are hungry for ourselves, hungry to matter, and starving to be loved, unconditionally.
Let's get practical:
- Grab a blank journal.
- Choose your title (Loving Myself to Fitness is one suggestion)
- Write your name and the date. Own it!
- Breathe. Breathe again.
- Write something. Here are a few suggestions: I vow to become aware of the reasons I eat that are not physical hunger. I am committed to loving myself. I am willing to question everything I believe about my body.
- Keep this book handy, it's YOUR handbook, when something feels right, put it in there. When you need to question something you have believed for years, put it in there.
- Take a moment each day to add to your handbook, anything goes.
- Trust the process, trust your only expert: YOU.
You have everything you need to live a full and bountiful life, enjoy it! Have fun writing your own handbook and please share the treasures you discover along the way!