When I was fresh out of in-patient treatment, I’d have given anything to have a formula to be healthy. How much do I eat? What do I eat? When do I eat? Can you relate?
What do I do to maintain a healthy weight, turn my mindset around and forget my fear of losing control?
And I am not alone. The question I get asked the most is: Can you give me a framework that shows me if I’m on the right track, if I’m truly on my way to letting go of my obsession with food?
I’m always hesitant to share because there’s no such thing as a formula that fits everyone. There’s no such thing as a portion size that works for every body and for every mind. Does a girl who is super short feel the same hunger as someone who’s super tall? Does someone who’s really active need as much as someone who works at a desk?
I understand the insecurity and the need to have a few reference points and at the beginning of your healing journey, it’s certainly helpful to receive some suggestions from someone else. But there comes a time when you have to spread your wings and fly trusting that you’ll figure out what works for you, your body and mind.
Living a life of health encompasses so much more than how many calories you eat and how your body looks like. Being truly free comes in many forms. Here are just a few suggestions.
Embody your body
Try to check in with your body as often as possible. You have to learn how to be inhabit your body again, to understand it’s signals, to really embody it and feel at home in it once more. To begin re-connecting with your body, put a hand on your belly and simply breathe into it. Feel your body expand and inflate. Feel your warmth, your energy, your life force. Focus on the sensations you experience in every part of your body and try to reframe from judging it. The more often you do this exercise, the more you’ll be able to notice what your body wants; whether it’s hungry or full; whether it’s tired or full of energy; whether it wants to play or rest.
Regain your mental freedom
When we don’t allow ourselves to eat what we want when we want, we obsess over food and place more importance on it than it ever should have. The more restrictions you put upon yourself, the more you’ll hold on to your dieting mind. That’s why it’s hugely important to regain your mental liberty. Promise yourself that you will never have to diet again and remember that only by letting go of the weight loss mindset will you ever be able to be fully healthy and balanced.
Begin your day by telling yourself that you are on a No Diet Diet for the time being and that you don’t need to overeat or undereat today, tomorrow or the next day. Affirm that you can eat what you want when you want and that it’ll all be OK.
Repeat this exercise for as long as you need. Write it down if that helps — especially if this scares you a lot. And be sure to throw away your scale to minimize the temptation of defining your body by numbers.
Feel all emotions without freaking out
Of course, a healthy life doesn’t always mean that you’re bathing in rose pedals and sleeping on feathers. In every life, there are ups and downs. You will experience heartache, loss, lack of control and twists and turns. You’ll worry about money, go through sickness with a loved one or fail your exams. But part of leading a healthy life is to learn how to deal with these emotions without turning to or away from food. There’s a lot of wisdom, a lot of opportunity and even beauty in negative emotions, but if you never climb the mountain and look at this side of human nature, you’ll never experience what it means to be fully, truly alive.
When a negative emotions arises, let it wash over you, breathe into it and remember that it cannot do anything harmful to you. It’s just an emotion, just a feeling. Sit down for a few moments, close your eyes and relax. Say a mantra like “Here. Now.” to ground yourself in this moment and to be fully present for yourself. Once the feeling has passed, praise yourself for sticking with it and for honoring it.
At the same time, it’s so important to allow yourself to feel joy and happiness and being truly healthy will give you plenty of opportunity to practice your happiness muscles.
A healthy life consists of going through the day with energy, excitement, motivation and feeling satiated. It’s full of vacations without bringing your scale (yup, I’ve done that plenty of times) and void of meal plans that’ll haunt you until the rest of your life. It’s filled with emotions, good and bad, friendships, hardships and more. And it’s also filled with delicious food that you like, when you want and how much you want. Being healthy means making decisions that are for your body and for your life. It means saying yes to a beer when you want one and no to a pizza when you’re already stuffed. It means saying yes to a hot bath when you feel scared, lonely and close to tears and no to that cup of ice-cream that won’t heal your soul. It means saying yes to dinner with friends when you’re in the mood and no to Sunday brunch when all you truly want is to sleep in and rest from a week of hard work.
Life in healing, life in health is filled with contradictions and many personal choices that support you and your mental and physical health.
If all of this scares you, don’t worry. You’ll get there, in your own time. In the meantime, enjoy your life as much as you can. Focus on other things than food and calories and fill your cup with fun activities that truly delight your soul.
Life is short. Be sure to live it fully.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
I’m still working on accepting that I’m not where I want to be in my career.
What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I’ve learned to appreciate my wisdom and my power. I used to hide it and be afraid o fit, but now, I know that I can only help to heal the world by stepping into my own light.
I’m still working on appreciating my voice. I don’t like it — it’s too shrill and just weird, but hey, it’s mine.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
What makes me most proud is my son. He’s the star of my life and it’s a miracle that he’s here. I’m so in love with him and I couldn’t be more grateful to have him in my life. He’s teaching me so much on a daily basis.
I still dream of becoming an international speaker and traveling the world sharing the message of body positivity with the world.
We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?
I’m very, very loud; especially when I’m having fun. I often get weird looks from my family and friends, but I’ve learned to accept this imperfection and have come to celebrate it. It’s part of who I am. Also, I’m quite messy — but I always know where everything is. It’s definitely part of my identity.
“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I Love My humor, creativity, parenting skills, butt, ears and feet.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net – “Beef Steak And Chips” by smokedsalmon