Given my disclosures and laying it all out there for you, I wanted to also let you know about my day yesterday.
I woke up yesterday ready to eat- not in a needy, demanding way, but in a grateful, joyful way. This is exactly the platform I've been hoping to cultivate. Each bite of food I put in my mouth felt like I was caring for my body. I drank my tea like it was a delicacy. I made homemade granola and ate it with pleasure instead of converting my calorie consumption into required minutes of sweating. It was like a celebration to be able to eat!
I took the kids to school, went to the gym and ran a couple of errands before getting Maya at 12. I was as thrilled as I'd ever been at the prospect of sitting down with her for lunch. I kept saying, "Let's go home and eat lunch!" as though it were a novel concept at noontime.
I made very deliberate, present minded choices throughout the rest of the day. I acknowledged the moments when I wanted more after I was full and took a deep breath, brushed my teeth and firmly said, "You are all done." I had four kids in my kitchen making Christmas cookies in the afternoon and, as much as a blast as that is, I came smack up against the awareness that post-school afternoons (even more relaxed Fridays) are a very tension riddled time for me in general. And yesterday there was a lot of stimulation in my kitchen, along with smooshed dough, spilled sprinkles and frustrated hands. Again, I simply acknowledged that my body was clenched and I was momentarily overwhelmed and tried to breath a lot instead of soothing my nerves with sugar cookies.
It totally worked.
And good thing because who wants to miss the joy of this? Frustrated hands became masterful hands and success was as sweet as the warm cookies out of the oven I let them have.
I spent the rest of the day being very conscientious about what I was eating (especially not finishing the kids supper and not eating standing up, another mindless pitfall) and found that the struggle was absent. I was acting with kindness toward my body without even trying.
And this is really the crux for me. I can be kind if kind is what I feel. But I can easily feel punitive if I feel I have stepped out of line. I figure if I can nurture that gentleness and self-acceptance than that will become more dominant that my more recent state of self-sabotage. It is as though there are two voices in my head and I finally figured out that if I listen to the loud bossy one it makes me feel awful and if I listen to the (currently) very faint one, goodness prevails.
By body knows what it needs and it sends me great signals of saiety, fatigue, desires for certain foods and aversions to others. This has really never been the problem. The issue is that I haven't been listening, or frankly, even caring about what my body needs or wants from me.
There is one more thing that plays a significant role in all of this. I hold myself to a (sometimes) ridiculous standard of achievement/performance/accomplishment. I rarely cut myself slack or give permission to take the easier way. This plays out most significantly in how I exercise. Yes, I exercise partly because I truly, deeply love it. But I also do it to muscle my body around. I often feel like I can eat x,y or z because I will go run 10 miles or bike 40. Yet exercising for those hours in turn creates extra hunger and sort of blanket permission to eat how I want. This has developed into a push/pull with eating and exercise that has definitely messed with the system of "listen to your body."
So I am listening now. I am sitting quietly and paying close attention. After talking to a friend (also a sometimes punitive exerciser) about her rekindled love of yoga and the kindness and presence it is bringing her with her body, I've made space to go to yoga today. And yes, I initially felt guilty about not going to the hard-core spin class at the gym if I'm going to have time without the kids. Then I moved past that thought, like wind through a curtain, and acknowledged it for the deluded lie that it is. I am going to yoga today as a way to love my body.
One last thing: this is my body, my home. If I don't love it, it won't matter who else does, or what size jeans I can put on to dress up my window boxes. If I don't cultivate self-regard and intense kindness for myself and my body, than I resign myself to a life of juggling extravagant eating with long trips to the gym and a constant fear of imbalanced indulgence. That soul crushing life is no life for me.
If this isn't your issue, than I apologize for taking up your time here. One thing I can say with resounding truth is that I'm grateful the events of this fall have backed me into this particular corner. It has left me hungry for a new way, an ache for a presence I usually only seek because I know spiritually I "should". I want a quiet mind and an open heart. I want to a cease fire with my body and I want to step out in love. I want to hear what my body is saying and heed it because that makes me feel better than a second helping of cake every could. I want to cut myself some slack and learn to enjoy more and do less.
And I'm telling you all about this partly to hold myself accountable to cultivate these very things. anyone want to join me?