So-called Food Rules.

Obsessing over food

Image found via Pinterest.

I just made a list of all the so-called food rules I have absorbed over the years and, let me just say, I was stunned. I had no idea how much garbage has been implanted in my brain, garbage that has defined how I see myself, how I nourish myself and most importantly, how I deprive and shame myself.

  1. Weight loss/maintenance depends on 80% food and 20% exercise
  2. You can’t out exercise a bad diet
  3. Eat healthy food 80% of the time, “cheat” the other 20%
  4. Sugar is evil. It feeds cancer cells. It’s as addictive as cocaine.
  5. Carbs are bad
  6. Fat is bad
  7. Avoid white foods: rice, bread, potatoes, flour
  8. Gluten is an inflammatory
  9. Dairy causes mucous
  10. Don’t eat after 7 PM
  11. Fast for 12-18 every day
  12. Break your fast with a smoothie or green juice
  13. Eat only fruits one a day week
  14. The less ingredients, the healthier the food
  15. Track every morsel you put in your mouth
  16. A moment on the lips, forever on the hips
  17. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels
  18. Use a small plate
  19. Leave 20% on your plate
  20. Dont’ serve family style as it encourages second helpings
  21. Don’t go back for seconds
  22. Don’t eat off your child’s plate cuz a bite here and a bite there adds up
  23. Sip water or tea while cooking so you don’t taste as you go cuz those tastes add up
  24. Brush your teeth as soon as you are done eating so you won’t want to eat more
  25. Don’t go to all you can eat buffets
  26. Eat before going to a party so you don’t eat the party food
  27. Fill up on soup (clear broth of course) before a meal
  28. Eat salad after a meal to aid digestion
  29. Measure all foods and liquids
  30. Eat at the table without the distraction of reading or TV

I could probably come up with 30 more but this is enough for now. Seriously, it is enough forever.

What a waste of precious brain space and energy these rules are. They suck the fun out of something that should bring me joy: feeding and nourishing this body of mine.

It’s hard to let them go but I am trying. Just writing them out, getting them out of the dark recesses of my subconscious and into the light of day is helpful. I can’t change what I don’t see.

By doing this, I am clearing out space for my dreams, for my sanity, for my Self.

Onward!

(This exercise is from “The F*ck it Diet” by Caroline Dooner, an absolute game-changer.)

Shhhh…

Shhh

Image found via Pinterest.

Should and shame go hand in hand.

I should be thinner or weigh this number or fit into this size but I don’t so I feel shame.

I should have a book published by now but I don’t so I feel shame.

I should meditate more and when I don’t I feel shame.

I should drink less or not at all and when I do  I feel shame.

On and on and on.

All of these “should” create a constant cascade of shame within me. Brené Brown describes the difference between shame and guilt like this: Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.”

I almost always focus on me rather than the behavior.

It’s not a coincidence that should and shame both begin with the “sh” sound. Both are used as way to quiet our authentic selves. To shut up the parts of us who want to stand out, that don’t conform to expectations.

Shhh…don’t make waves. Just follow society’s expectations of women being thin and smiling and nice.

Shhh…don’t you dare accept your body at the size that it is. Not when there are so many diets plans and books and pills out there to “help” you be thin.

Shhh…don’t ever think you are enough just as you are because then an entire industry build on selling you products to “improve” your body, your home, your life will be irrelevant.

It’s interesting and not surprising that the new wave of congresswomen are being shushed all over the place for speaking their truths that don’t conform with politics as usual. They are being shushed on-line and with threats.

Women are shushed all the time by being told they are bossy instead of leaders. That they should smile more because it’s obviously our job in life to make every single person around us comfortable and if we aren’t smiling then they are uncomfortable and we can’t have that.

Women are shushed when we are paid less than men for the same work.

So, how do we begin to escape the cycle of shoulding all over ourselves and the shame that follows?

I’m not exactly sure. I am still working on this myself.

I know it has to do with starting to accept myself as I am right now because if I can’t then nobody will.

It has to do with using my voice even when it shakes. In fact, espcially then.

It has to do with staying in my body, in the moment rather than getting my mind and emotions tied up in knots over how I think I should look or be.

It has to do with redefining and rethinking who and how I want to be in the world instead of letting others decide that for me.

As with everything, it’s a process. So, it also involves immense compassion and tenderness and awareness of when I slip back into old patterns of thought and behavior that are so deeply entrenched in my body and psyche.

Onward! (Liz Gilbert uses this to end some many of her posts and I feel it is so fitting for my life right now, so I am using it, too. Thanks, Liz!)

 

Onward!

happy Birthday to Me!

Image found via Pinterest.

I don’t know what this coming years holds and I am learning to get comfortable with that.

I don’t know if I will drink alcohol or not. I don’t know if I will make peace with drinking or not drinking or not.

I don’t know if I will finally say “Fuck it” to all the diets and food rules and truly mean it or if I will still be stuck on this crazy rollercoaster of restricting and judging and trying to find peace instead of actually finding it.

I don’t know if I will find an agent or be published or land that writing residency.

What I do know is that I will keep showing up to all of those areas and all the nooks and crannies of my life.

I do know that I will let myself down, feel ashamed and guilty when I do and then I will find the compassion to pick myself back up and continue onward.

I do know that writing every day has become so intricately woven into who I am that I will continue to write under all circumstances—a lesson from Natalie Goldberg that I have finally absorbed deep into my bones.

I do know that showing up is non-negotiable.

Showing up to my relationships.

Showing up to my writing.

Showing up to my creativity.

Showing up to my body.

Showing up to my yoga practice, and teaching practice and students.

Showing up up my meditation practice.

Showing up to my Self.

I do know that not knowing and continuing on is part of this human experience.

So, I may not know what this 55th cycle around the sun has in store but I do know that I plan to dive deep into the juicy, messy, perfectly imperfect, beautifully rich and complicated heart of this life I am so grateful to be living.

Onward!

Birthday Reflection #7: F*ck It.

Birthday Reflection 7Warning: Shit-ton of profanity ahead.

I am 96 pages into this book by Caroline Dooner that arrived in the mail yesterday and I can tell that it is a game-fucking-changer.

The gist of it is that diets don’t work. They just don’t. Sure, our bodies can be tricked into losing weight for a while but our bodies are brilliant and all they want is to survive. When we diet and restrict food our body thinks we are experiencing a famine. Which we are. So, they go into survival mode. Which means slowing down our metabolism and storing fat.

As I read, I was flooded with memories of all the ways I having been fucking enmeshed in a battle with my body, food and body image for decades. Fucking decades.

Here are some in no particular order:

  1. Dancing to the Locomotion in a friend’s basement with boys and my friend yells at me in exasperation to stop stomping around like an elephant.
  2. Staying at a friend’s house I saw that they poured more cereal into their bowls after they finished so they could finish the milk. I thought that was genius. When I tried it at home, I was told I didn’t need to eat more cereal.
  3. I was 12 or younger when I wrote in my diary a confession about eating a Hostess Apple Pie and some Oreos.
  4. As a cheerleader in high school I heard some guy in the bleachers call me Thunder Thighs.
  5. I’m always afraid and ashamed of being weighed at the doctor’s office.
  6. I believe that gaining weight is a weakness and losing it is a strength.
  7. I judge every body I encounter. Mine, family, friends, strangers.
  8. I have so many food rules that I’ve attempted to follow over the years: eat “healthy” 80 percent of the time, “cheat” the other 20 percent; don’t eat past 7  at night; try not to eat for a full 12 hours, 16 is even better; limit bread and other starches; don’t eat processed food; the less ingredients the better and on and on and on.
  9. Holding my 10-week old baby a stranger the airport asked me when I am due.
  10. People feel free to comment on my weight loss but never weight gain. It’s crazy when you think about it. When we do that we are basically saying: “Congrats on taking up less space in the world!
  11. The first thing I do in the morning is stand in front of the mirror, lift up my shirt, turn sideways to see how flat or bloated my belly is. And that sets the tone for the day.
  12. I’ve tried the South Beach diet, calorie counting, hormone diets, sugar-free diets, intuitive eating, mindful eating

My most recent foray into weight loss has been using Spark People again to track my food. And it works. I hate doing it, but it works. In 3 weeks I lost 7 pounds. I did it by starving myself. My calories intake was between 1200-1500. I stayed within that range and usually at the lower end. But then I also exercised but didn’t track the calories burned. So, say I ate 1300 calories one day, burned 400 on the elliptical at the gym which means I ate 900 calories that day. Nine. Hundred. That’s insane. Especially when you read about the “The Minnesota Starvation Experiment” in Dooner’s book. Whcih you should. Every person, especially every woman, needs to read this book.

Her formula of eating what you want, when you want, as much as you want scares the crap out of me. But I am SO fucking exhausted from hauling around this baggage about my weight and body. I remember entering my 30’s, then 40’s then 50’s determined that I would finally be done with this obsession, this constant battle I wage against myself.

Well, I turn 54 tomorrow and I am apparently still deep in the battle. But with this book I see the possibility of freedom at on the other side. Before I went to bed last night, I took Spark People off my phone. Before I went to bed last night I ate a bowl of granola with blueberries and almond milk which freaked me out. But I was hungry so I ate. Novel idea. But it broke my rule of not eating past 7. And I didn’t measure anything. I just ate what I wanted, when I wanted in a quantity I wanted. Again, what a novel idea.

This morning I did not gauge the size and shape of belly. I ate what I wanted without measuring anything and I feel full.

I feel satiated.

I feel my body softening into gratitude for finally beginning to listen to her.

(I think I may have what Brené Brown calls a vulnerability hangover but I am going to press publish anyway. My motto as I turn 54 is: “Fuck it, I am who I am.”)

Birthday Reflection #6: Second Act.

Birthday #6

I firmly believe this.

This perspective changes everything.

It’s no longer “it’s all downhill from here.” That’s bullshit.

This is a second act. I have more freedom now. Freedom from hands-on parenting, from caring so much what others think of me, from my own incessant self-crticism. Why squander that freedom?

I am stronger now than I was in my twenties.

I am more confident.I am getting more and more comfortable in why own skin.

I started yoga in my forties and became a yoga teacher in my late forties.

Although I have been a writer for over 30 years, I believe I will be published in my fifties.

I’ve gathered an amazing tribe of women who offer fun and support and encouragement.

My marriage (thankfully) has continued to evolve as we have evolved individually.

So, how does your life change if you imagine this is the beginning rather than the end?

Birthday Reflection #5: Energy Over Age.

Birthday reflection #5

I love this quote from this amazing woman!

Age not energy dictates the quality of my life.

After our 16-day trip through Europe, my daughter pointed out that I probably couldn’t have done this five or six years ago, which coincides perfectly with when I committed to a yoga practice.

Since then, my practice has helped me to heal from and come back stronger than ever after hurting my low back. It has given me strength in my body but also in my mind and spirit.

Before yoga, when I would be away from home, I’d often find myself having anxiety attacks in the middle of the night. I was worried about that on our trip. I had one, but barely. I think it was mostly due to sheer exhaustion by that point but I slept a solid 10 hours , took it easy the next day, kept up with my writing, meditation and yoga and was fine.

My energy comes from within.

It comes from living my yoga off the mat, practicing all eight limbs.

It comes from taking care of my body and listening to it.

It comes from stoking the light within me and using it to help others find their own light.

It comes from being true to myself.

It comes from, as Liz Gilbert says, embracing the glorious mess that I am.

glorious mess

Birthday Reflection #4: All I Don’t Know.

Birthday #4

Photo from my walk this morning.

So much of growing older for me is getting comfortable with not knowing.

I don’t know when or how loss will shake the very foundation of my life. But I do know that it will come, as it comes to all of us.

I don’t know how I will respond to that inevitable loss and grief but I do know that I have the tools and the most amazing support system to get me through anything that comes my way.

I don’t know how my body and mind will age in spite of all the care I give to both. I do know that I feel immense gratitude for this body that allows me to experience the world and this mind that allows me to process and wonder and dream.

I don’t know when or if I will have a drink again. I do know that I feel my best when I don’t drink.

I don’t know if I will be published. I do know that I continue to write something every single day and even if I knew that I would never be published, I would continue to write.

I don’t know where life will take my daughters. I do know that we have given them deep roots so that may fly.

I may not know what is around the next bend in my day or life but I do know that I try to live my life in this moment which I know is the only moment that truly exists.

 

Birthday Reflection #3: Caring for this Body of Mine.

Birthday 3

I am learning to take care of my body.

Not to make it look a certain way but to feel good in it.

I care for my body by moving it daily.

I care for my body by showing up to my yoga mat daily.

I care for my body by eating vegan, eating whole foods as much as possible, drinking a ton of water and currently by not consuming any alcohol.

I care for my body because who else will?

I care for my body so that it will carry me exuberantly into the second half of my life.

 

Birthday Reflection #2: A Woman Who.

Megan RAPINO

Birthday Reflection #2

I love this photo of Megan Rapinoe.

She is a woman who is unapologetic about who she is.

A woman who is unafraid to take up space in the world.

A woman who uses her voice.

A woman who stands in her truth.

A woman who stands in her power.

A woman who owns her victories.

She is a woman who lifts other women up.

She is woman who stands firmly and fiercely in her light and invites everyone around her to do the same.

As I continue to grow older and to grow + heal and I hope to be as fierce as Megan Rapinoe.

 

 

Birthday Reflection #1: With Each Passing Year.

Birthday 1

In honor of my birthday week, I am going to post something for the next seven days. I don’t know if there will be a theme or if a theme will emerge. (One probably will.) I just want to write what I am drawn to as I end this particular journey around the sun.

With each passing year I feel layers of who I used to be crumbling into ashes at my feet. I step into and through those ashes, leaving footprints of where I have been, where I am and where I am going.

With each passing year, I find myself getting more and more comfortable with my own company, so different from the girl and young woman I used to be, never wanting to be alone with myself, with my thoughts, never really clear on who I was or who I wanted to be.

With each passing year I find more clarity on who I am as all these pages and words and images and stories spill from my fingertips, from my heart, from my breath, allowing me to unearth what lies beneath the shame, the pain, the fear, the false stories that have taken up residence in my mind.

With each passing year, it is easier to discern truth from those false stories. It is easier to catch myself when those lies begin to take shape. It is easier to then let them go before they take root.

With each passing year, I find myself more at peace no matter what is going on around me or what chaos is swirling within me. I am able to find a path in between both spaces so I am not swept away.

With each passing year, I find myself standing more firmly in my truth, more firmly in voice. I find myself more comfortable taking up space in the world.

With each passing year, I am able to hold my heart with a fierce tenderness that allows me to step out into the world and hold space for more women to do the same.