I'm Spiritual, Dammit

Eat what you want and stay thin

Okay- I know with that headline you might be wondering if I've lost my mind- but I am here to tell you that you CAN eat anything you want, and stay thin....without throwing up- working out for hours a day, or counting your calories.  Crazy?  Not even close.  It's the spiritual way to getting in shape, and I'm determined to spread the word.
Yesterday, I blogged about the humiliation of being in the Miss Illinois Pageant back in my early 20's.  I received several emails on my website from people wondering why I didn't include the photos of myself in my bathing suit and high heels prancing around the stage... 

"Are you embarrassed?"  Asked Tony from Park Ridge.

"What color suit did you wear?"  Wondered Sharon from Skokie.

It was white, and no I was not embarrassed.
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I think I looked pretty good, actually.  When I was "training" for that damn pageant, I counted every single calorie, and limited my food intake to 1200 calories a day.  I cut out all alcohol.  I dragged myself to the gym every day, and made myself do 25 to 30 minutes on the stairmaster. (remember those?)  I was in shape, but I was miserable.  It was a chore.  I missed my lifestyle of drinking tons of beer and drowning my sorrows by eating pizza.  But I had a goal- and I reached that goal- which was to look and feel good enough to wear a fucking bathing suit on a stage with pumps, in front of hundreds of strangers.

Great.

I always get so mad when I hear about celebrities who transform their bodies.  ANYONE can transform their bodies with a personal trainer, a luxury gym, and a full time chef.  (I'd like to see Mariah Carey try doing it between shifts at the Davis Street Fishmarket and only a membership at the YMCA.)  I almost broke my television when I heard Gwyneth Paltrow tell Oprah, "I do two hours of cardio a day.."

TWO HOURS?!  I barely have two minutes!  What do NORMAL people do to lose weight?

I felt defeated- but I was also determined to prove that you CAN lose weight and stay healthy by eating what you want, and when you want.  But you have to do it as a spiritual practice.

When I decided to begin my new way of eating, I started choosing really healthy foods more often.  I remember during a segment of my food show Taste, we had Dave Grotto from Nutrition House Call go through my refrigerator.  He pointed out that preservatives and artificial dyes are hidden in everything from ketchup, to my multi-vitamin.  He directed me to some better choices; Agave syrup instead of sugar.  Berries instead of cookies.  No drive-thrus.  No diet soda.  Just really pure ingredients.   

I thought of each calorie as nourishment that helped my body grow and thrive, instead of thinking as food as an inconvenience that made my ass grow.  I didn't keep track of calories- but ate when I was hungry.  I even started talking to my food.  I know- sounds strange- but I thanked each bite for it's nutrients.

Thank you for nourishing my entire body.

I even say that if it's a cookie.  (Hey- there are health benefits in chocolate, right?)

Today- I eat what I want when I want.  I have my fridge stocked with healthier foods- and also real foods such as butter instead of margarine.  (just use less, people!!)  I have taken the whole "forbidden" factor out of eating.  I find that this way, I eat so much less.  I also enjoy every bite, and thank every bite as I'm chewing it.  

I think that since everything is energy- when you bless a piece of food- and even cook with love- it translates into easier digestion.  Remember the movie Like Water For Chocolate- where anyone who ate the food felt the emotions that went into them as they were being prepared?  I don't think this is too far off.  

My husband is in culinary school, and he's cooking a ton of French food- with butter, cream, the whole bit.... but we eat so much less because it's made with love.  I crave less because I am eating great ingredients.  

So now, I eat butter. I run 5 days a week instead of every single day.  And the funny thing is, I actually feel I look better in a swimsuit today then I did back at the Miss Illinois fiasco.  I also enjoy working out because I'm thinking of it as something that is making me healthy.  Sometimes, I leave the ipod at home, and just try to remind myself that I am lucky to be able to run, and breath in the air, and get some "me" time for 20 or 30 minutes. (With a three year old and a husband, this can be a tall order.)   When I was training for that stupid pageant, working out became a task that I loathed, rather than quality time with myself that I cherished.

Oh- and here's the real kicker...  I don't own a scale.  

Yes- you heard me correctly.  I think scales are what is wrong with our body image mindset. Say you wake up feeling great, and you step on the scale, and see that you've gained three pounds.  Now, you're gonna be in a shitty mood for the rest of the day because you had soy sauce with your sushi and you're retaining water.  

So if you too would like to try to be "spiritually fit"- step one is to remove all scales from your home.  I have a pair of jeans from college that I can still wear.  That's all you need:  One piece of clothing as a target.  We should not give any power to a number that decides how we will feel for the next several hours.

Second step- choose your words carefully.  I used to say "This pizza will go straight to my ass..." and I swear, it did.  Never tell someone "My thighs look huge in these pants," because they will.  And the word "weight" is just as bad.  Think of the term: WEIGHT LOSS.  That is a double negative.  You WAIT to LOSE.  Take those words out of your vocabulary immediately.

I think it's really interesting that I can be physically similar (maybe even in better shape) than I was nearly 15 years ago, while embracing totally different living and eating habits.  

And to answer the question from an email I received from "Joe" in Palos Heights- I do NOT still have the green sequined dress I wore in the Miss Illinois group dance number-  which was a terrible homage to "Luck Be A Lady"- by the way.
  
(I think saving ONE sequined dress is bad enough...) 


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5 Comments

Susan Blumberg-Kason said:

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Do you remember Joanne Johnson from Kingsley and Haven? Didn't she win Miss Illinois in the 80s? She always seemed so nice and confident.

You're so right about diet pop and scales! I cut both out a decade ago and am thinner now than I was in high school. I eat whatever I want and never let myself feel like a loser because I like dessert. The diet industry is the biggest scam. I mean, do you really think Mike Golic loves those NutriSystem 'meals'? Me thinks not.

Thanks for your posting. I only wish I knew this when I started dieting at 13!

mollster said:

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I'll second the no scale movement. I haven't had one in 20 years. I also strongly believe in cooking with love and healing. You don't have to give up all your "treats" (whatever they may be). It also helps to have positive emotions concerning food. Keep up the good work.....

Eantonucci said:

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Jen! I have to say this is awesome to read. I use to struggle with my weight a lot in high school and in the beginning of college but I am so much better now.. I HAVE NOT GOTTEN ON A SCALE SINCE MY FRESHMAN YEAR OF COLLEGE AND I HAVE NO CLUE HOW MUCH I WEIGH... on my resume I make up a number that I think is porportional to my body. I cannot agree with you more the the way we put things into the universe really affect what happens. I never thought of "Weight Loss" as a negative way of saying it until you pointed that out!! I am so happy your wrote this blog post! It has really opened my eyes to a lot- especially being in a business/industry that is so STUPIDLY OBSESSIVE about body image and weight- I love entertainment and acting but I hate all the focus on body image! I work out 3 times a week with a trainer and I ballroom dance which keeps me in great shape.. It's all about having fun and being happy! Thanks again for writing this because it really shed a whole different light on eating for me!! xoxo

Jules said:

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Would you like a little cheese with your whine?

Regardless of the fact that your agent recommended and thought it was a good idea, if you had a brain of your own, you would have, and certainly easily could have, declined to take his/her suggestion to enter the pageant. Sounds more like either sour grapes or defending the fact that you didn't win....

Jen Weigel said:

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Hi Jules- seems that you are commenting on the wrong blog? This one is about eating whatever you want and loving yourself no matter what you eat. And to answer your question- I just LOVE wine and cheese together. Lately, I've been digging a little blue cheese with a really nice Cabernet- oh so tasty!

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