Hmmmm…Food is probably the one true topic I talk about every day. But, I’ve cautiously avoided diving beneath the surface.
Growing up with a busy, working mother, weeknights were fast and easy, usually coming from a box. My stepfather was a foodie before foodies were a thing as we were always driving 6 hours for the best catfish or having homemade beignets piled high with powdered sugar on Saturday mornings. The meals he cooked were loaded with richness.
My diet was one extreme to the other. Actually, I had a few seizures when I was young, and my grandma swore it was because of crazy diet restrictions suddenly imposed on me. ‘We need to take her off sugar’ was something I often heard BOOM down at me.
As a teenager, I spent several years in athletics, so I burned off what I consumed with ease. I never had to watch what I ate and lunch room options of Fiestadas and fries or, burritos covered in cheese were my fuel. Sometime during the early 90’s, my parents force fed us chicken and canned asparagus….apparently, we were trying the Pritikin Promise Diet.
I was taught very little about nutrition. Just extremes.
Some time, around 25, the college diet of beer and chicken wings caught up with me and I realized I had packed on the pounds. It seemed like it happened overnight, and I was shocked. Trying to understand what was happening was hard. Then, the comments and the judgement started and that was even more confusing. I had never been treated badly about my size before but, now, it seemed everyone had an opinion.
….And, it wasn’t a very nice one.
The nail lady weighed in, “your nails are so little, you are SO BIG! What happened???”
The family member who brazenly let me know that I was FAT about ever third time I saw her…her comments slowly chipped away at me, reminding me of my diminished value.
Sometime in my mid-thirties, I had it. I wanted to transform my life. I started doing weight watchers and was incredibly successful. I spent hours studying recipes, planning menus and I joined a gym.
The compliments returned. I felt ABSOLUTELY amazing. Apparently, everyone else did, too, because my weight was often topic of conversations. Particularly, with people I had not seen in a few months. Suddenly, people saw my beauty and I was kinda shocked by some of the people could not see it before.
Sooooo many times, I wanted to shout, ‘so, you think I’m pretty NOW? I was before!! Why couldn’t you see it!!!’ But, like a true, gracious southern woman I accepted the compliments that reminded me of my value.
I know I sound ungrateful.
The compliments were nice but, I quickly grew uncomfortable at the attention.
My arrms looked amazing….The group classes at my gym got easier. I could, officially, spend an hour on the Stairmaster a day. I was getting stronger and losing more.
One day, the trainer I would race across traffic for every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 was in a private session. I admired her knowledge so I kinda snooped in to see what I could learn as I was sweating it out on the Stairmaster. During the workout, her client shared that she concerned she wasn’t doing enough cardio. In a not so quiet voice, my ‘fitness idol’ proclaimed that it was fine. She was doing great!
“Now, if you were like her (as she nodded over her shoulder toward me) it would be a whole different story.”
Seriously? I’m over here, working for it…not even bothering you…and you throw shade at me?? I left and I cried in my car. I quit going to the gym and froze my membership. (Ironically, years later, she became a client of mine- never knowing the profound impact her judgement had on me.)
Never wanting to walk inside a gym again, I joined bootcamp and dropped 25 pounds in 2 monthly sessions.
The food program I was on was no longer satisfying. I had to eat the same thing day in and day out- all I knew was a number value. Not a nutritional value. All I thought about was food, all I talked about was food.
It was overwhelming. And, dangerous and I was starving.
All the time. Every day.
I couldn’t keep up anymore. I was consumed and it was exhausting.
I, then, received an offer for my ‘dream job.’
I was tough, I was smart, I was an amazing rep and I hustled. No one hustled harder.
Horrible habits returned. The hours, client demands, rich dinners, late nights and early mornings took its toll. My weight crept back up steadily. Each bad decision started to weigh me down.
The comments returned. The judgement returned.
After years of mindless toil, the weight of the world was on my shoulders and wrapped tightly around my waist….My breaking point came. My dream job turned into a nightmare and I knew I needed to leave. But….my weight…? My Gemini brain kicked into overdrive. No one was going to hire a fat girl, right?
It took me YEARS to get into my industry. Will it take YEARS to transition into another position? I was convinced my weight was the reason. I was grateful for any opportunity afforded to me and I outworked everyone around me. Because I had to outwork them. But, would anyone hire me this heavy?
To my surprise, I found an amazing job with an amazing new boss. As a matter of fact, I had several companies wanting me. I was surprised, always thought about ‘the elephant in the room;’ but, I was grateful. Always grateful.
One day, I was talking to my doctor about my weight loss and gain. I shared my struggles and expressed my frustration. We discussed the things it took for me to lose weight, my daily meal plan and my exercise routine. She looked at me, deadpan, and asked “have you ever thought that you are not supposed to be that size? If you must fight, struggle and starve- maybe that’s not the plan for you. Who told you how you are supposed to look?”
I was dumbfounded.
I thought back to the doctor that refused to give me cold medicine with any flavoring in it because she said I was fat and didn’t need any sweetener. I could still feel her hollow, angry look as I begged her to just prescribe me medication and spare me the lecture….relentlessly, she climbed higher and higher on her soapbox as I slumped in the chair, nose full of congested, severe throat pain and sweating like the pig she was telling me I was.
What? Wait…Where was I….?
Seriously. Never once had I considered anything of the sort.
So, I stopped. And, I let it all settle in…until the cold December day I met a magical friend who makes the most amazing chocolate mushroom pies. We sipped tea as she taught me a word I had never heard before. Integrative Nutrition. The idea of treating people with food.
No crazy words around it. No diets charged with labels. No superiority. Just food that helps the body function at its best.
The words Conscious Nourishment have settled into the back of my mind like an old relative. Never had I understood that food is truly medicine. I knew it and I’ve danced with the idea but, I didn’t know it until I was introduced to the concept of Mindful Eating. I experienced an immediate shift.
Not surprisingly, the book Savor found its way into my possession and the first chapter has me captivated:
“Most of the time, we are on autopilot, eating on the run, eating our worries or anxieties from the days demands, anticipations, irritations and ‘to do’ lists.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
I realized that, like my food foundation, I have been playing tug of war between mindlessly eating my way through life and obsessing over what I was putting in my mouth. It has always been all or nothing and…it’s exhausting.
This week’s exercise is one I created for myself a few weeks ago. I am much more conscious about what I put into my body.
Below, you will find journal prompts and mantras. Set aside 15 minutes to complete the Journal prompts on day one.
After journaling your thoughts, gab a clean sheet of paper- write down the 3 Mantras and the Daily Reminder.
Repeat them to yourself every morning shortly after waking.
The SECOND Steps to Developing a Self-care Practice:
1. Connect with your Perception.
Think about how you see yourself.
Do you have a healthy body image?
Do you shame yourself over how you look?
Do you feel shamed by others over the way you look?
From where do your perceptions of beauty come?
DAILY MANTRA: I am strong and Vibrant.
2. Start Where you are.
Think about your current food habits.
What food makes you feel your best?
What is your favorite vegetable?
What is your favorite fruit?
How many fruits and vegetables are you eating a day?
DAILY MANTRA: I am proud of my body. Treating her well is a cornerstone to my well-being.
3. Shift Your Perspective.
Think about the idea of food as medicine.
Are you eating foods designed for health?
Are you eating whole foods -or- are you mostly eating fillers?
Are you depending upon yourself to build the ingredients in your meals -or- are you depending upon ‘convenience food?’
DAILY MANTRA: I will serve my body with gratitude
4. Observe Your Habits.
Take the time to identify good habits you currently have and other habits that could be improved.
REMIND YOURSELF, DAILY:
“Mindful eating means simply eating or drinking while being aware of each bite or sip.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
If you are following along with our Self-care series, and would be interested in doing a Book Review of Savor, drop us a line below.
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**Lastly, shout out to the man that has been with me through ‘thick -and- thin.’ Literally. I’m blessed to have a husband who thinks I’m hot at any size. Every woman should be made to feel so lucky.