We’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!)
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…
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,
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:
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, I 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!