My meditation teacher said an awesome thing the other night. I am paraphrasing because I can’t remember exactly how he put it but basically, when awareness comes through we realize we don’t have to believe the thoughts in our head or what anyone else is saying.
All I have to do is sit here right now and write this blog post. What I have to do after this doesn’t exist because it is not happening in this moment. When it is happening then I will get involved with whatever it is. But right now, me thinking about how this future thing might go, making up my stories about it, thinking maybe it might be hard, wondering about my ability to do it, is all bullshit.
Not only is it bullshit, but often times these thoughts that we think with such fervor hold us back from doing the very thing we are thinking about. On top of that they cause suffering in the moment.
BUT we don’t have to believe them AND if we must think constant thoughts (which we do being human and all) we can change them.
This is also relevant when we feel we have to believe what others say.
I was thinking about this (ha!) as it pertains to health and weight. We are constantly bombarded by the weight loss industry, society, our culture, and sometimes our peers with information about a) whatever size you happen to be isn’t good enough, b) your life will never be good if you don’t do something about this and c) here’s what to do about it.
The problem (OK there are a multitude of problems here but a big one) is that this information often causes people who are in pretty good health to diet themselves into overweight and a boatload of health issues.
Processed artificial diet “foods” and the stress of yo-yo dieting and feeling like a failure is actually what is making us fat, unhealthy, and making our lives feel shitty and not good enough.
I am a perfect case study for this theory. When I started dieting back in junior high I was not at all overweight. I was tall and thin and I could eat whatever I wanted.
I was also awkward and felt like I didn’t fit in. So I listened to and believed all the information that was coming at me—that I wasn’t good enough. And how to remedy that? Go on a diet.
I convinced myself that my thighs were too big when I found the book Thin Thighs in Thirty Days.
It was so full of hope and promise. Let me just take care of this thigh problem and my life will take off. How could anyone possibly like me now, let alone love me—my thighs are fat for God’s sake!
I continued to believe the diet industry for decades first becoming super thin and unhealthy looking, then going up and down so many times, finally finding myself in my mid-forties in the obese category and suffering with stomach issues, unable to get off acid blockers let alone eat an orange.
What’s more I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of time I wasted thinking about what I was going to eat and then judging myself as good or bad based on my choices. My thoughts all stemmed from this belief I picked up from an industry trying to sell products.
What I didn’t realize is that what food choices I was judging as “good” were actually leaving me void of nutrition and making me fat. But I couldn’t let go of this belief because it was all I knew and heard for so long—I always thought I must be doing something wrong.
Of course I thought I was doing something wrong—many have the default setting to think they are doing something wrong rather than questioning what they are believing in the first place.
Take for example my belief in calories in calories out. The be all end all for weight loss I thought.
Dr. Mark Hyman has a great example of this in his latest book asking the question—are 750 calories of soda (a double gulp from 7-Eleven) and 750 calories of broccoli (21 cups) the same?
No of course not! Chemically the way the body reacts to and can use the nutrient dense broccoli as opposed to the nutrient void soda which causes an immediate blood sugar spike followed by high insulin, sparking a whole host of problems including increasing stored belly fat–the difference is night and day.
Back to my example—I was eating a lot of diet “foods” but they were far from nutrient dense so no matter what was on the label (aside from the one million ingredients) touting it as healthy my body was not getting the fuel and nutrients it needed. I might have been able to force a little weight off but it was never going to be sustainable because I was starving all the time.
It wasn’t until I changed my beliefs about diet, food, and body image and decided to focus on health rather than weight loss that I was able to turn everything around. I have no idea how many calories I eat in a day. I just eat whole nutrient dense food (and of course drink green juice!).
So if you are struggling with health and weight you don’t have to believe what I am saying either. But just use my case study to take a look and see if what you are doing really makes sense.
It makes sense to me now to use whole, quality food as a vehicle to health rather than trying to continue on my cycle of dieting hoping it would finally work one day.
Give it some thought (ha!)—maybe it will resonate with you as well.
Did you like this post? Please give a click below and share with your friends!