I don't know about you, but I get a LOT of emails. Like, a lot a lot. So many that I have a separate account exclusively for those emails that I can't bare to unsubscribe from but the account stays open and minimized on my screen with about 700 unread messages just in case I have a spare minute and decide to read one some random day.
It rarely happens.
But when it does, it can be magical.
Take this recent post from The Daily Love, Mastin Kipp's home on the internet to "Love and be Loved":
"When we become obsessed with food–what to eat and what not to eat–this very often affects every aspect of life. Social gatherings can lead to anxiety and self-loathing, while loneliness can lead to binge eating.
"Like any successful relationship in life, at the heart of your relationship with food is self-love. Comparing yourself with others can lead to guilt, shame, depression and emotional fatigue. ...
"Joy and self-love can be difficult emotions to muster when we feel weak, tired and ashamed of our body.
"Take small steps.
"Begin with the small things that make you feel more alive. These are activities that bring you into the present and not thoughts that focus on the past or the future.
"When you switch your perspective from weight-loss to optimal health, focus on incorporating foods that change you from the inside out and you will notice that your body naturally shifts into the right weight for you."
That's a lot to swallow, Mastin.
If you aren't familiar with The Daily Love or Mastin Kipp, um, where have you been??!! He is one of the young new thought leaders in the spiritual world, if I do say so myself, and he is full of ah-mazing tips, tricks and insights to help you live your best life as your highest self, in service to the world and others. Whew. That made me tired just thinking about it. But he really does practice what he preaches, in this instance too — he recently lost a lot of weight, no doubt using the words above as fuel every time he felt like reaching for the ice cream instead of the kale. (Bad comparison — but you get what I mean.)
So let's break this down piece by piece. Are you obsessed with food? You don't have to be anorexic, bulemic or orthorexic to be obsessed with food, you know. I don't consider myself to have an eating disorder, but I think I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what my family and I eat, to the point where it could be considered "disordered" eating. And that's fine. I own it. I look for ways to resolve it every day (which may add to it, but at least I realize this). What to eat and what not to eat isn't always about calories and being skinny; some people are obsessed with eating locally, organically, 'naturally' or low carb, to name a few. Whatever floats your boat, suits your fancy, makes you get a little dancy. That's not a word, apparently, by the way.
So if you're wondering, now, if you fit the bill, keep reading that quote. "It affects every aspect of life." Sound familiar? Date nights. Grocery shopping. Paying the bills. Going to church. Hosting a party. Watching your neighbor's kids.
I can see how food could affect all of those arenas; can you? So keep reading. Do you also see how they could lead to anxiety and self-loathing, as food weaves its way into your thoughts and resides there, right next to everything else you do, think and speak about? Or on the flip side, if you avoid social interactions — and perhaps that's more on the edge of an eating disorder rather than disordered eating — do you experience loneliness that leads to binge eating later? To be honest, I think we all do from time to time. You can easily be just that tired, stressed out and/or feeling lonely to reach for the potato chips instead of taking a yoga class, meditating, going for a jog, reading a book or calling a friend to feel better instead. It's so easy. And so delicious.
The problem is, and this is the heart of Mastin's message here and throughout his site (check it out!), is that the associated behavior takes you away from your self. Your True self, your connection to God and others and the Universe and Life itself, the present, our gift. We all know that stuffing our faces with anything — after all, you CAN overeat even healthy foods — is not a form of self love. And to continue with his quote, taking it one step further and comparing yourself to how someone else would handle the situation, for example, is even worse. I believe Iyanla Vanzant has even called it an act of violence. (Anything that is not kind is indeed an act of violence, so I would have to agree.) And yet I do it ALL the time:
- I should be more like her. She looks great for having a 3-month-old.
- She used to be an aerobics instructor. So she'll always be/look better than me.
- She's so put together. So calm and peaceful. Why can't I ever be like that? I work so hard at it, and she makes it look effortless.
If that's not an indication of 'guilt, shame, depression and emotional fatigue' I don't know what is. And trust me when I say this, joy and self love are the farthest things from my mind — other than being labeled as feelings I know I should be feeling — when I'm actually experiencing the ill effects of these others.
I feel like every day I try to make small steps, but if I'm being straight here that's a lie. As you may have gathered from my last post, I can become easily overwhelmed by all I read, know and absorb about the current state of food affairs in our country, and the end result is feeling like I don't know what to eat. I can't afford X, don't like Y, end up throwing out Z and as such am wasting even more money on food. And when you're overwhelmed, it's really hard to take any steps at all. Most often, actually, the tiny steps you do take end up leading you in the wrong direction.
So about that "making you feel more alive" part...
That's something I can sink my teeth into.
Think about it like this: Do leftover scraps of Goldfish crackers and soggy toast off your son's high chair make you feel more alive as they go down? How about mindlessly watching another rerun of the Kardashians over a slice of cold pizza and some flat beer? Even just sitting in front of the computer, bored and trolling Facebook. At least to me, nothing about any of that sounds even a tad bit fun, inviting or comforting, let alone would it make me feel more alive and present.
I know this is just one more take on things, one more way to look at the way you eat — and/or everything you do, really — but you have to admit, it's a pretty interesting way. It's a loving way. It's a peaceful, kind, intentional, thoughtful way to eat and live. It takes presence. It takes pause.
Feed your body, feed your soul. Tune in and start to realize also what you're doing, thinking, eating and saying that does NOT feed any part of you, and learn to let go of it one way or another. We all have these things in our lives — toxic people, junky comfort foods, bad habits — but for some reason, only some of us are successful at getting past them. So if 80% of life really is just showing up, I bet we're missing out on the success simply because we're Not. Even. Trying.
I am inspired today to take action in the right direction, inside, for me. To me. Within me.