I benefited from the advice of some great women yesterday.
It seemed like it was a day for me to read things that spoke to my soul and I am still reeling this morning from words that I felt, not just read or heard.
Do you believe that things happen for a reason or that events conspire, pushing towards a specific goal? I do. I believe that there are times in our lives that it becomes apparent we are supposed to move in a certain direction or do something. Other times it is not as clear. Sometimes it is the little coincidences in your life that feel like deja vu or you say to yourself, “I was just thinking about that particular thing and then here it is.”
I am a person of faith. I believe that all of this is the voice of God. I think God talks to us all the time. Now I’m not talking hearing voices, although some folks have reported clearly hearing His voice at times. I’m talking about those things that keep presenting themselves in your life until you acknowledge them. I’m talking about when a sometimes seemingly random thought comes into your head and it turns out it is an important one – maybe something you needed to be thinking about in a moment when it was furthermost from your mind. You don’t have to be a person who believes in God to believe that things move in a natural rhythm or direction, like water flowing. Taoism & Buddhism, for instance, both talk about moving in patterns with the harmony of the universe.
Now I am no religious scholar and I didn’t wade into this to sway anyone’s belief system one way or another. This was simply to say that I believe things came together yesterday to move me in a direction that I am really excited about. I feel it is harmonious with both the universe/God’s plan and with where I am at in my life/my plan.
First things first, lets rip that band-aid off. I uninstalled Netflix from my phone. I know. I know! This seems like a simple, stupid thing to some folks, but it was a biggie to me. I read a column from a blogger I follow (shout out to Mandi at Vintage Revivals) and she talked about removing things from her life that didn’t bring her happiness or hope, and she specifically called out Netflix. Now Netflix is something I enjoy, but there is something about it that has always bothered me. When I was younger I always said that when I had kids we would not have a TV in the house. This was because I saw my parents spend too much time as I was growing up just doing their time at work and coming home at night to vege out in front of the television. I never wanted that kind of life. Yet, now I’m kinda doing the same thing (the patterns we learn repeating themselves – like ruts in the road/the well trodden path). I watch Netflix nearly every day. I stream shows to “relax,” to give my brain a break, at the end of a long day. Still, it bothered me on some level the time I was taking away from the things I could do that feed my soul. These thing I can’t “find the time” to do. Meanwhile, I can sit down a watch a marathon of Jane the Virgin (ironically a show about a woman to strives live her dreams on her own terms). Plus, there was the downside. Once the episodes ran out, I got a bit sad. It was like I joined this little group/family for a time and experienced their lives and now I was cut off from that family. They were exciting lives too that never involved the daily minutia that makes up most of normal people’s lives. What would happen next? How would the folks fulfill their dreams?…While i sit on my ass not doing anything about mine. (Its easier to watch than do, right?). You know, folks talk about social media giving you unattainable expectations for your life when you see the ideal things people post about their lives…how about the ideal of watching people who live their dreams and solve every bump in the road in just under an hour and watching this for hours on end?
When I read Mandi’s comment it hit me right in the heart. And I knew I needed to move away from this time-sucking, mind-sucking form of entertainment. My commitment was affirmed when, at the first thought of getting rid of Netflix, I felt a moment of panic and then tried to bargain with myself saying, “Maybe I’ll just finish the series I’m watching since I’m in the last season and then I’ll quit.” Dude, if that’s not addiction talking…How many times have I just said, “I’ll finish this junk food I bought and then start eating healthy,” or “I’ll go ahead and eat what I want this weekend, and start my new ‘lifestyle’ on Monday,”? So, yeah, those thoughts let me know that stopping, at least for now (one day at a time, right?), was what I needed to do.
That lead me to reading more, which lead me to a quote by Martha Beck, a life coach of Oprah’s O Magazine. She was speaking to a person who dealt with food addiction. She said, “Addiction is a sign that a person is divided from her truth. You have feelings that are uncomfortable and food lets you stay numb and block them out.” WHOA!
Sometimes in this struggle, when people want to analyze to death every aspect of your childhood and your emotional life to find a root cause of your problem, I have felt like saying, “Lighten up – sometimes a cookie (or an entire pizza) is just a cookie,” or, “Hey, I just like food.” However, ultimately I know that there is more to it than being a person who likes to eat. Ultimately I have an unhealthy relationship with my body and that is the real problem. I’ve said for a long time that obesity is a sign of disordered thinking. Most people who are within a “normal” healthy weight range for their body are that way not because they can eat anything and not gain weight (although some of those jerk-faces – kidding – are out there as well). No, most people who have a healthy relationship with their body either watch what they eat/exercise or, if they see they start to get overweight, they take action to fix that. I don’t. I see myself gain some weight and I throw up my hands or stick my head in the sand. I convince myself it doesn’t matter. I didn’t get to over 450 lbs at one point by having a healthy relationship with or connection to my body. There is a disconnect there. And, while I would have argued for a long time that I just liked to eat, and my genetics were just bad, and I was not feeling any kind of emotion about it…that wasn’t exactly the whole truth, was it? The truth is that I WASN’T feeling any kind of emotion because the food numbed me and distracted me. The food made sure I didn’t feel bad at all…at first. I didn’t feel anything bad. I didn’t feel anything at all. I was out of touch with the body I live in.
Now, like a lot of career weight loss warriors, I have tried many times to lose weight and different avenues. The problem now thought is that when I started losing weight in 2014 I did it in a much more balanced way than I had before and I reaped the benefits of not just looking slimmer, but also feeling f-ing fantastic! I was working out. I had fitness goals. Me! The girl who at one time couldn’t walk from the car into the mall without being winded. And I liked – no, LOVED that feeling. I felt good in my body for once – I felt my body (not in a creepy way). We were (mostly) harmonious. So, now that I have experienced that, I am having a hard time going back to sticking my head in the sand about how my body feels. I can no longer tune it out. I cannot deny that my feelings, or a desire not to feel them, is doing damage that manifests itself physically. That’s why this quote hit me hard. It’s so true!
And it felt like a revelation, especially for someone who considers themselves fairly rational and open to the truth. This was a truth that I really felt. It feels like an answer.
“Addiction is a sign that a person is divided from her truth. You have feelings that are uncomfortable and food lets you stay numb and block them out.”
And that was just the first thing I read in my new non-Netflix time…
The other thing I read was FINALLY finishing up The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines. I think I started reading this when I was out on maternity leave (over a year ago). And the thing is, its a great read! Its easy to follow, interesting and told in a narrative way. It’s very personable and seems like a conversation – like they are in the room with you telling you their story. It’s an easy and entertaining read…when you’re not watching Netflix. So I finished it last night instead of my normal routine (as a side note, my daughter, who is an iPad/Netflix junkie too – a fact that has concerned me for some time – actually took an interest in the fact that I was reading and wanted to read with me r me to read to her more than our normal bedtime story). As I was reading through, Joanna talks about the perfectionism she used to seek when it came to cleaning her house and making it look perfect. In fact, her worry over how their home looked took away from her kids enjoyment. She said back then, one, she didn’t design living areas of their home with spaces dedicated to the children and, two, there was conflict because she was so focused on them not making messes so the place stayed a showplace. It wasn’t just the kids either. Her perfectionism also took away from her enjoyment both of her home and of her children. She spent a lot of time correcting the very behavior that give the kids enjoyment. This brought tension to their relationship. It also cost her the opportunity to enjoy the delight that children bring, reminding you what it was like to be a kid and just play and discover. Gosh! That hit home. Not that my house is a showplace, but I do spend more time than I would like on things that are not, in the long run, important or fulfilling.
And there I am, right back at Mandi’s comment about putting your time into things that bring you hope or happiness and, more to the point, cutting ties with those things that don’t. Plus, if you are that emotionally in touch and focused on your joy, then maybe you don’t hide from your feelings. Maybe you don’t have to eat to numb, or watch shows to numb, or drink, or spend, or whatever the habit is that pushes that lever for you and gives you a short-term “feel good” with the subsequent numbing effects….and the much later regret, beating yourself up, and bargaining.
So here I am.
I had already committed to working on my health this year, but I feel like I want to do it in a different way. In the past I had lost weight in a way that was competitive with myself. I wanted to achieve the next five pound loss or hit the next goal point in my journey. I wanted to stay under my calorie targets or hit my step goal. I was motivated. The only downside to that is that it places a lot of pressure on you. If you’re winning, it’s great. When you don’t hit a goal, it’s frustrating and disheartening. You want to lash out. I am at the point where I want to get healthier by making healthy choices, maybe even tracking (writing down) what I eat, but I don’t want weights and measures. I don’t want to weigh every day or maybe even every week at this point. I don’t want to count macros or calories or points. I want to make choices that make sense for my life. I want to add more natural food, cut back on or cut out some things, but nothing that is a hard, fast rule that feels like too much pressure. I thrive well under rules in in competition for a while, but eventually it begins to feel like I am being controlled, like I am performing for other people or acting out what works for them. I need to do me, but the best version of me. Does that make sense?
And I want to do what else Joanna advised, I want to thrive where I am, not live in survival mode. I want it to feel like I am living my life, not constantly working towards a point in the future where I can relax once my work/weight loss/etc. is done. Because the ugly truth is that I am never going to be done with this struggle my whole life, but I don’t have to let it consume my whole life. It can be there, just another part of my story, but it doesn’t have to be the whole story. I want to bloom where I am planted whether I drop 5 lbs this week or not. I want to spend less time distracting myself from the things in my life that make me feel alive, or just make me feel, period. I want to thrive and seek wisdom and look for (or at) the things in life that give me wonder.
Perhaps I can sum it up best with a quote that, ironically, comes from a TV show i watched years ago that so touched me that to this day I still think about it often. It was,
We are meant to be here. We step from one piece of holy ground, to the next, under stars that ask, “Imagine for one second you could drop in on a past life. What would charm you, make you proud?” Ask yourself that and the question of what to do in this life becomes so simple it’s terrifying. Just to do that thing that would charm you, that would make you say, “Yes, this is the real me.” Do that, and you’re alive.
Do that and you’re thriving.