On Dieting


I am writing this blog 12 lbs lighter than I was 6 weeks ago. Considering I have gained 35 pounds or so in the last few years I still have a long way to go, but at least it is a healthy start.

I have never been much of a dieter. Unlike many people, I was blissfully unaware throughout my entire youth of the ordeal of counting calories or weight watcher points. I had always pretty much eaten whatever I wanted and stayed fairly thin. Ahhh..the blessings of youth.

Now that I am over 40, my metabolism is not at all what it used to be and the crappy eating habits of the past have caught up with the stuffing of emotions I had been struggling through since my big life transition. And so here I sit, typing my blog and navigating myself through diet land.

It sucks.

Have I mentioned that I hate the whole dieting thing? I hate the restrictive food choices and having to be accountable for everything I put in my mouth. I hate the regimented meal and snack schedule and watching my co-workers eat take out while I humbly drink my 200 calorie protein shake at the table beside them.

But here is the thing. I am on my way to a much healthier respect for my body. As I am beginning to honestly view my body as the host for my spirit, I can start to look at healthier eating as a positive, empowering change and less as a punishment. Despite my strict Catholic upbringing, I find guilt not at all nourishing. I feel no healthier in deprivation than I do after saying 12 Hail Mary’s and 10 Our Father’s.

My partner and I started the 6 week Shred diet and for the first month took it very seriously, hoping to lose the advertised average 20 pounds and 2 inches the book promises. It was not fun as I plunged into what the author himself declares as plunging into the dark pits of the first three weeks, but I stuck to it faithfully, following the rules for every meal and snack “allowed.”

In giving with this level of dedication and sacrifice, I expected dramatic results. Instead, I found I was feeling like a martyr for a month for a loss of less than 10 pounds. There were testimonies on the back of the book of people losing that much in the first week of two. I was frustrated and indignant. Not a single bite of ice cream, pizza, pasta or sweet tea in over a whole month and all I had to show for it was 8 or 9 pounds.

For this last 2 weeks of the diet I half heartedly followed the plan and took to being proud of the choices that made my body feel good rather than wallowing in the want and deprivation. I have come to honestly enjoy Almond milk and Greek yogurt. I love the fresh fruit smoothies and protein shakes as an occasional meal supplement but not as the routine plan for the biggest part of the day. Feeling physically healthier was good, but I still had work to do in changing my perspective to positive change that did not reflect lack or sacrifice.

A friend recommended a book titled Women Food and God, by Geneen Roth. It is a great book and I wholeheartedly recommend it. I was intrigued how the author ties spirituality in with healthier eating perspectives. She uses a beautiful combination of wit, sincerity and truth in shedding light not just on how we stuff emotions with food, but how we equate how we eat to how we live and love.

In the introduction she says “I believe we are walking, talking expressions of our deepest convictions; everything we believe about love, fear, transformation, and God in how, when, and what we eat.”

There are a lot of beautiful gems in the book, and again, I really think it is a must read for anyone struggling with their weight in any way, but to oversimplify and sum the whole idea, she actually advocates not dieting at all. She demonstrates how the diet itself, regardless of which one you are following, is not the answer. Instead, she instructs on a few simple rules and guides the reader to a sense of empowerment which comes from sense of self-acceptance and spiritual truth, a coming home, as she describes it.

The book, as Mrs. Roth explains it, is about “using eating as a doorway to freedom from suffering, the demystification of weight loss, and the luminous presence that so many call God.” She teaches nothing less than a whole new way of living and loving ourselves and our divinity through everything we do, including how we and what we eat.

I have also recently begun listening to Panache Desai. His face positively glows with love. He says “We are not broken.” “We have just forgotten who we are.” I find this to be such a beautiful message that resonates with where I am. I have listened to a great many spiritual teachers over the last several years of this journey but he is one of the few whose honest passion and loving presence is absolutely undeniable. This guy just strikes me as the real thing, ya know?

So for the foreseeable future my plan is NOT to diet, but to eat in a way that honors my body. This doesn’t mean I don’t think about what I might look like in a bathing suit this summer, but I understand my relationship is about so much more than food.  I have come so far from being the small, weak feeling person weighing out what I am allowed and not allowed, and I don’t like putting myself back in that cramped space for anything or anyone.

At this point, my continuing quest for spiritual growth and harmony is merging with my desire to nurture every part of me; spirit, mind and body.

Original artwork by Jennifer Bothast

Original artwork by Jennifer Bothast

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I am a 43 year old mother of 3, living in Florida with my partner and youngest child. Like the mythological phoenix, I have been reborn out of the ashes of my former way of life and have, for the last several years, set out on an exploration of self expression through visual art and creative writing. I am immensely grateful to feel a part of every living thing in existence and the emergence of a growing evolution of consciousness within and throughout. I am interested in all aspects of energy healing and spiritual transformation and have just recently become a student of Reiki. I understand there is always a choice and I try to choose love over fear at every turn. I am grateful for all of the other women in this group and for their ever present support and guidance. Jennifer Bothast

 

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