My “Oh Sh*t” Moment

DSCN5185We’ve all heard of (and likely experienced) “Aha!” moments, right? Aha moments are awesome; through them, difficult, tangled-up issues can be unraveled with ease and solutions to long-standing problems suddenly seem self-evident, like they’ve been there all along.

Recently, I’ve experienced the exact opposite of an “Aha!” moment. I like to call it my “Oh Sh*t!” moment. Oh, sh*t, indeed. Picture the scene:

I’ve been feeling apprehensive and ungrounded lately, like I’ve been walking in ill-fitting shoes. As excited as I am to go to nutrition school in the fall, I’ve also been silently/secretly berating myself for gaining back all of the weight I lost on my food sensitivity diet. (What kind of holistic nutritionist gains weight? What kind of holistic nutritionist is preoccupied with her weight in the first place?) I’ve been feeling like a fraud for pursuing this path while I’m not at ‘my best’ in the physical sense. I’ve weighed less before. I’ve fit into slimmer jeans before. I’ve felt leaner and more energetic before. I’ve eaten cleaner foods before.  I’ve looked “more holistic” before, whatever the eff that means.

To make matters worse, I’ve been hyper-critical of myself… for being critical of myself. (I know. WTF?) Every time I catch myself feeling sluggish or heavy, and every time I steal a furtive glance at the pants which function more like a full-torso tourniquet now, my Inner Judge pulls out the “starving children in Africa” spiel. You know the type:

Who are you to be concerned about your weight?

You’re not obese or even significantly overweight! Many people would kill to fit into your jeans! Your BMI is normal! Every pie chart, bell curve, and graph in the doctor’s office puts you solidly at ‘where you should be for your height and weight’, so what exactly is your complaint? (PS: I thought you were a feminist!)

or:

Your problems are so trivial in comparison to the rest of the world’s issues.

Think of starving children! Think of Africa! Think of AIDS and genocide and war and many other terrible things. Who are you to complain about not fitting into skinny jeans? Pfft…

Is this seriously all you care about? Fitting into those pants? REALLY?

Is this seriously all you care about? Fitting into those pants? REALLY?

My mind was all a-chatter and my spirit felt uneasy and conflicted. I wasn’t sure how to get unstuck or how to move forward without feeling inauthentic or like a raging Negative Nancy.

So I asked for help.

I sent an earnest S.O.S. out into the Universe. “Please, Universe– show me how to be comfortable in my skin and how to think loving and accepting thoughts about myself. Please point me to the right path. Please open up the necessary doors. Love, Dana”

Lo and behold, a book fell into my lap (or rather, I suddenly discovered a book at the public library the very next day). I knew this book was the Perfect Book For Me To Read, because a tiny voice inside my heart said “Yes! Here it is!”, but the bellowing voice of my ego yelled,

Oh, sh*t!

Ah, yes. Enter the Oh Sh*t Moment. This book is called “A Course in Weight Loss” and is written by Marianne Williamson. Based on the principles of “A Course in Miracles”, this book offers 21 lessons in how to move from fear to love when it comes to our bodies and the food we choose to feed them. It’s not about forcing our bodies to eat certain foods, adhere to a particular calorie count, or to exercise a certain number of minutes at a certain level of intensity each day. Instead, it’s about tackling the stickier, spiritual aspects of ourselves that often get lodged in our physical bodies as aches, pains, or extra weight. Sludgy things like guilt, shame, anger, jealousy, and hurt. Now, I know what you’re thinking because I thought it, too:

Oh, sh*t!

As soon as my ego saw that hard work would be involved– that I couldn’t just find a new diet to try or follow a new list of foods that could or couldn’t be eaten– it rebelled in a big way. ‘Oh, sh*t!!!!’, it screamed. That, and the even classier “Eff you, Marianne Williamson!!!” First, it tried delay tactics:

“We probably shouldn’t start on Lesson 1 until our lives are free from all chaos, appointments, To Do Lists, chores, distractions, work, and other life activities (even pleasant ones).”

In other words: never.

The next tactic was to speed through everything:

“I have an idea! We love to learn, so let’s just skim through the whole book at breakneck speed and absorb all of the insights and knowledge through painless osmosis! We can read through all the lessons in advance and make rational, intellectual decisions about which activities (if any) are most applicable to our unique situation. We are so special, though, I would be surprised if anything in this book applies to us personally at all…”

In other words: let’s go through the motions but not do any real work. Ever.

To my surprise and delight, though, I made it through Lesson One, dear readers. Yes I did! It took me two full weeks, not to mention all of my courage, strength, and determination. (I jest… but not really.) I had to wrestle with my mind and train my hand to actually write everything down as the Lesson suggested. It also took a healthy dose of patience to not skip ahead and read Lesson Two (just so I would ostensibly “know what was coming up”). I did it, though, and am now halfway through Lesson Two (without even peeking ahead to Lesson Three! Go, me!)

I know that some people do well with meal planning, pedometers, bathroom scales, and measuring cups when it comes to trimming down and shaping up. (Heck, do well with those sorts of things but always end up back where I started– i.e., heavier than I want to be and feeling guilty or anxious about food.) Something inside of me just keeps saying, though, “Information is not enough. Knowing about vitamins and minerals is not enough. Healthy food is important, but a healthy spirit matters, too.”

And so here I am: embarking on the harder, more taxing, but potentially more rewarding work of checking myself before I wreck myself. I’m taking my “Oh, sh*t” moment and hoping to turn it into a lasting “Aha!”

I’ll be honest– the process is freaking me out because I’m turning over a lot of psychic stones that I thought were better left undisturbed. Control issues. Insecurities. Buried resentments. Shame. I’m examining a lot of my core beliefs and questioning why I am the way I am, and why I do things the way I do. (Thankfully, the Universe also dropped another book in my lap to help me cope with my feelings of alarm, panic, and overwhelm. While we’re on the topic, I highly recommend Nick Ortner’s “The Tapping Solution” to help put a positive, manageable spin on Issues That Seem Too Big To Handle.)

 Anybody else here struggle with weight issues?

How do you get to a place of love and acceptance for yourself?

How do you silence your own inner critic, regardless of whether it’s weight-related or not?

I’d love to hear from you, and thank you in advance for sharing your insights!

11 responses

  1. Hi Dana
    I have been a bigger gal all my life. Sometimes it has bothered me sometimes not. Right now at age forty four I am/was at my heaviest. I just did not feel comfortable. So a while ago I decided to change that. I decided to change my weight and self image on my terms. Sure I would like to be superstar thin and beautiful, who doesn’t. But would that be a realistic goal for me. No. So I am setting out on a journey to be comfortable in Lesley’s skin. It’s a life journey I keep telling myself. I am not doing crazy diets or going to a gym. For me that would only be failures. What I decided to do works for me. And knowing what works for yourself is key. I am starting with baby steps. I am eating less and more real foods. This is huge for me. And the results have been positive. That being said I do have a ways to go. I may never get to where my bmi is perfect or fit into the perfect jeans but I will get to where I am comfortable with the way I look and feel about myself. It is my personal journey. Not one set out by society where I need to be a size two or zero or whatever it is right now. Each one of us has a journey to feel good about themselves. For some it’s image. For some it’s the mind. We need to stop feeling that we need to measure up to some ideal and just work towards our own personal goals no matter what they are. Nobody will ever be perfect so if we know that upfront then it makes and takes the pressure off. Life is so very short. I am not sure if what I said makes much sense or even answers any of your questions I guess I’m trying to say is try to find a place where you are comfortable and work towards that one step at a time. Xo

    • Hi Lesley– thank you for such a heartfelt and beautiful comment. I’ve finally realized that my ‘weight issues’ are better thought of as ‘heavy heart issues’ or ‘filling a spiritual void with food issues’. Having been successful on a number of capital-d Diets before, I know that I *can* get to a place of weighing less in my body, but unless my body and mind are on the same page, lasting change will continue to elude me. I think it’s great that you are embarking on your own journey on your own terms. Besides, I think what’s most attractive in people is their confidence and comfort in their own skin, no matter what size or shape their bodies are. Thanks for reading! xo

  2. Cannot express how much I totally adore you… Really, it would either come off as cheesy and insincere or maybe possibly slightly stalkerish, neither of which impressions I care to leave you with, but here it is:

    Oh sh*t. We actually DO have to do this d*mn work, don’t we? Well, f*ck.

    Point is, yes, I relate to ALL of it. The constantly berating myself about my weight. The trying to speed through the *hard* lessons without really putting the full effort into it. The understanding that I’m never going to make it where I want to go if I don’t suck it up and DO. THE. WORK. (And maybe let up a little on the self-criticism.)

    The kicker? I know what the work is. Yep. Sure the h*ll do. (You like that? I’ve worked in almost all of the four-letter words – woot!) More sprecifically, I know what MY work is… And I’m still dragging my proverbial arse around, trying to convince myself that I’m getting where I’m going (the seduction of SARK’s micromovements).

    Here’s the rainbow after the storm: We’re already ahead of where we were before we started taking the time to examine our lives. And that is good, and there is more good to be had by and for both of us. That makes me pretty dang happy!

    I enjoyed the Tapping World Summit so much that I bought The Tapping Solution book on pre-order… Have yet to crack it open. (See above re: knowing what’s right and still not doing it. Though I did tap a little this morning.)

    Oh me… You are perfectly beautiful exactly the way you are and your genuine, deeply personal perspective on life is going to be a cornerstone in what makes you a brilliant holistic nutritionist, no matter what size your jeans are!

    • Yeah! I had a giggle at the first part of your comment– I totally know what it’s like to LOVE somebody but not want to seem freakish about it. (And for the record: the feeling is mutual!) 🙂

      Re: the second part of your comment. Isn’t it funny how we ‘know’ so much but have a lot to catch up on when it comes to taking actual actions? I recently did the Strengthsfinder test and discovered that one of my Top 5 Strengths was Intellection– thinking about things a lot but often feeling dismayed by the discrepancies between my mental knowledge and my real-world actions. Surprise, surprise! But like you say, it’s a huge step forward to be aware of our tendencies to mentalize everything. (Yes, I’m making up words now. Mentalize sounds good, right?)

      To my delight, I have been much less critical of myself since starting on the lessons in Marianne Williamson’s book. Aware and observant, yes, but ultra-critical– not so much anymore. Maybe the kindness is finally having a (lasting) breakthrough! In any case, I know SO DEEPLY that my calling involves all of this messy stuff. I am not going to be the pert, chipper nutritionist that feels out of reach for (and out of touch with) ‘everyone else’. Nope! All of the struggles I’m having now will no doubt be PERFECT when it comes time to serve others in a big and meaningful way. Getting there is a process, but I know that I’ve got to take exactly this path to get there. 🙂

  3. Dearest Dana,

    I know you know this, but here’s a little reminder….

    You are wonderful because you are you, and therefore you will be a wonderful nutritionist/student. Not because you are what some society deem perfect.

    Lotsa love x

    • Thanks, Nic! 🙂 I think I need to start tattooing beautiful reminders like this all over my place… not to mention all over my face. Ha. Thanks for the kindness!

  4. Hi Dana,

    Well done you for taking action, for asking the Universe for help and then taking notice to the books that came your way and again for taking it one step at a time. Stuff comes up, our insecurity come up – the important thing is that we use the tools available to us to get us out of the s**t.

    So, pat yourself on the back, take a deep breath, keep moving forwards …and open ‘The Tapping Solution’ and get tapping. Those insecurities and self judgments just won’t have anywhere to hide 🙂

    • Thanks, Ferris! I had a phenomenal tapping session yesterday– super deep, super powerful, super releasing… and now I’m super exhausted. 🙂 I’m amazed at how effective and awesome EFT is for everything from physical pains to deep-seated emotional issues. (To be honest, the question that’s been coming up for me today is “Do I really want/need to go to Holistic Nutrition School, or is Tapping all I’m looking for?” Guess I’ll have to do a session and explore what comes up. 🙂

      • Hi Dana, I’d love to know what came up for you after that next explorational tapping session. For me, I find that it’s great to have a variety of tools available. Tapping is one of my top tools, yet I also appreciate having other wisdom, tools and knowledge to help me on my journey. In the light of that tapping session you just had, have you asked yourself afresh WHY you want to go to Holistic Nutrition School and what the benefits of it will be for you and your future clients?

  5. I am so far from being in a place of love and acceptance for myself that I would probably need one of those Round-the-World airline tickets to get there. Times 3 or 4. This post really strikes a chord with me. I do the reading, but skip the work. I read “Women Food and God” last year and had some ah-ha! moments, but failed to follow up on them.

    One of Marianne Williamson’s books helped pull me out of a deep depression years ago. I haven’t kept up with her books since that time. I’m going to see if my local library (which I still have to find) has “A Course in Weight Loss.” If not, I’ll order it. And have my own “oh sh*t” moments because it’s time to do the work.

    Thank you for the inspiration. 🙂

    • Happy to be a proverbial kick in the ass for you, Robin. 🙂 I’ve read “Women, Food, and God” TWICE now, and both times I felt so moved by it but, like you, I didn’t do anything about it. The warm feeling was contained solely in my mind. What I like (and sometimes hate) about this MW book is that every chapter is a lesson that you must put into practice. Normally, I would just breeze through the book and digest whatever was insightful or palatable to me, but this time, I’m ready to do the real work. I’m still on Lesson 5, but this is one of those cases where it’s really not a race. (And racing through this book would definitely defeat the purpose.)

      The main thorny issue that’s been coming up for me is the pervasive and longstanding (but mostly subconscious) belief that I’m not enough just as I am. I realize that I am always putting distance in between myself and the world to ‘keep myself safe’, whether I’m planning things for the future to avoid doing things in the here and now or literally putting on weight to protect myself from exposing the more vulnerable aspects of my spirit. The rub in this case is the fact that I am registered to go back to school this fall. At this point, I don’t know if I’m doing this because I deeply and truly want to, or because I don’t yet feel ‘qualified enough’ to help people without an official program under my belt and another smattering of letters behind my name. I definitely have to ponder this, but at least I still have 2 months before school officially starts. 🙂

      PS: Amazon carries the book, even if your local library does not. I have now renewed the book too many times at the library and will be cut off at the next due date. Thankfully, Amazon has it on offer for a very reasonable price. 🙂

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