Your Food-Story Can Have a Happy Ending

sunrise-1634197_960_720This morning I was listening to a message by Barbara Brown Taylor which had nothing to do with eating. She made a powerful statement that got my attention:

“Sometimes we have to start telling a different kind of story before a different kind of future can unfold.”

BAM!!

That sums up our journey of liberated eating beautifully.

We are telling – living – a new and very different kind of story from the one we were telling ourselves during our old miserable dieting days.

We who have struggled with food, weight and body for far too long want a different future. Desperately. The old story of restrictive rule-following did not take us to the future it promised.

Not even close.

The future we want requires a story of hope and help that actually works – for the long haul. We’ve gotta have an answer that’s big enough, strong enough & flexible enough for real life.

Nothing else will do.

The good news is there is a different kind of story – a trustworthy one.  It’s a life-sized solution that’s about so much more than just losing weight. It’s built on science and wisdom instead of empty diet industry promises.

It’s about living peacefully with food through weekdays and weekends, on vacation and at home, at birthday parties and restaurants – and even when we’re stressed.

Here’s a recent example of how this different kind of story played out in my real life…

Bob and I went to Tasty’s Fresh Burgers & Fries after a fine day of kayaking; we were hungry and happy from a day spent outdoors. We both ordered a cheese burger with the works, hold the onions, and split an order of tater tots.

MY OLD DIETING STORY would’ve sounded something like this in my head:

“I should NOT be eating this fattening food!!! [it’s sooooo heavenly delicious…I can’t resist] I’m being so bad! [maybe I exercised enough today to balance things out] But… if I’m gonna be bad I might as well go ahead and blow it big. I’ll start again tomorrow […or maybe Monday].”  Then I would eat it all, quickly, completely missing much of the goodness, paying no attention to what my body was telling me, and leave feeling stuffed and guilty and defeated. Again.

MY INTUITIVE, MINDFUL STORY can now play out like this:

“This looks delicious and I’m so grateful for it! I want to be sure to show up and slow down so I can enjoy each satisfying bite…I wanna be connected to all the goodness in this meal and moment. That’s a gift I can give myself.”   No guilt. No “shoulds” or “should nots”. No drive to overeat compulsively or shamefully or quickly. Because of this freedom I can stop eating when I’m not hungry anymore. I can easily leave food behind and walk out feeling very satisfied indeed.

Developing this kind of food-peace is a journey* anyone can take.

Our old diet story, driven by deprivation and hyper-control, made food an emotionally charged substance and drove us into all-or-nothing behaviors and beliefs.

It was frenzied and small and crazy-making.

The story of liberated eating, so different from dieting, allows us to choose from an authentic place, eat from a connected place, and live from a peaceful place – which works together to allow a different kind of future to unfold…the one we’ve wanted all along.

So, yes Friend, no matter how crazy you may feel right now, your food-story can indeed have a happy ending.

*to learn more about this journey check out my book, The Liberated Eater, or email me at cindy@theliberatedeater.com.

The Story I Just Can’t Forget

sunsetA friend told me a story recently I can’t get off my mind.

A missionary was living in a small African village. She asked her friends and their chief if they would introduce her to the people who lived in a nearby village. Early one morning they began their trek. She was excited to meet new people and was eager to get there. They walked awhile, then found some shade and sat down, she assumed, to catch their breath. After more walking they sat down again – they chatted, sat peacefully, then walked some more. In time they sat again. This happened several times and she was getting more and more antsy each time they stopped.

Finally she got up enough nerve to ask someone why they were stopping so often and he said,
“So our spirits can catch up with our bodies.”

Wow – what mind-jarring, life-recalibrating, much-needed ancient wisdom.

How often do we Westerners feel we’re meeting ourselves comin’ and goin’? How often are our crazy-busy minds out in front of us – on to the next thing before the last one is done?

These wise villagers knew well what our western research is spending lots of money and time to discover:

We humans are in need of quiet – of down time. (click on blue for more)

Our brains are not built for a constant flow of information.

We now see more information in one day than our ancestors processed in a lifetime…

Our minds, bodies and even our eyes suffer from the overload.

As a mindful eating coach I spend my days helping people slow down and re-connect with their bodies, to re-remember how to stop and experience the joy of eating and moving again.

The simple practice of chosen-mindfulness changes us.

We begin to awaken – to feel more fully and deeply alive.

And not just at the table.

This is something all of us can do – and – no one can do it for us. Each of us must accept the responsibility for the stewardship of our own mind and soul. In our distracting world, peace will need to be intentionally cultivated – it’s not a given.

You are the only one who can make the space and time to sit in quiet contemplation.

What are you doing right now to relax, to allow your spirit to catch up with your body each day?

Here are a few ideas…you will find your own:

  • Quietly read, pray, meditate
  • Play, stroll, exercise, stretch, yoga, walk, etc.
  • Art – draw, paint, color, finger paint, etc.
  • Music – listen or make your own
  • Play with children, ride a bike, swing…
  • Enjoy your pets, a garden, a hammock…
  • Deep breathing, biofeedback, massage, muscle relaxation

There are so many ways to feel anchored peacefully in yourself again. Find your way.

Especially in the 21st century, unless you move to a village with no wifi, you will need to be fierce for your own peace, for finding your way of allowing your spirit to catch up with your body each beautiful day.

One Question You Gotta Answer

1How long have you wanted to lose weight? Exercise regularly? Get your cholesterol down?

If you’ve wanted to make those kinds of changes for a while, you’re not alone. Most of us have at least one area where we would like to see some change.

We tend to ask ourselves questions like “Why can’t I lose this weight?” or “How often should I be going to the gym?” or “What should I be eating – or not eating?”

“Should” and “why can’t I” questions are rarely helpful.

Here’s a powerful question that can help us move the needle when it comes to changing things:

How much energy am I willing to put into getting what I want?

Stop a moment and allow yourself to give this some thought. Be sure to ask with a kind and sincere tone. If you have an accusatory or critical tone (like you should be willing to give it your all!) the question will be meaningless.

This is an important question to answer sincerely. Until we know this, we tend to set ourselves up for disappointment, expecting more than we can or will invest right now.

When we ask this question several important things happen:

1. You take “should” out of the mix

Should is a notoriously poor motivator. It’s pushy and usually leads to shame. Shame might push us into doing something for a while but never leads to lasting results.

2. You give yourself permission to be honest.

Knowing how much energy you’re willing to expend right now helps you make realistic plans.
If you realize you don’t have a lot of energy to spend (or even enough “want to”) you can adjust accordingly. This is a great time to pick the low hanging fruit – which leads to another good question:

What small step could I take right now?

Sometimes doing one new thing, even if it seems small, can jump-start a whole cascade of good things.

So, if you’ve been wanting to make changes in your exercise routine, your weight, or your cholesterol, try starting right here…

How much energy are you willing to put into getting what you want?

From Food-Focused to Life-Focused!

babyBabies are very intuitive creatures. They sleep when they’re sleepy. They poop when they’re poopy. They eat when they’re hungry. They stop when they’re satisfied. Babies are very intuitive because no one has had time to convince them to over-think things yet. They do what comes naturally.

Eating intuitively causes them to flourish. Because they’re prompted by their body’s messages, they have plenty of energy and time for the important things – like non-stop discovery. Babies are life-focused!

We were born eating in this relaxed way too — and we can live that way again. This way of living is freeing. Once you get used to it you’ll wonder how you ever lived any other way.

Think about this: what are you focused on when you’re dieting? Food. What are you focused on when you’re overeating? Food. But, when you’re eating intuitively you are free . . . free to focus on life – on  peopling, playing, creating, exploring, thinking, and doing that thing you’ve always wanted to do.

This is way more fun than thinking about your next snack.

Liberated eaters are free to get on with living because we’re learning to trust our bodies to tell us when to eat. It’s like having a trustworthy alarm clock. You can relax and sleep, trusting it will tell you when to get up.

So, how might this change happen?

  • By daring to relax and trust yourself
  • By adopting a set of core principles that work
  • By rediscovering the intuition you were born with
  • By reclaiming your autonomy
  • By embracing full responsibility for your own health
  • By mastering proven tools that can get you through tough eating situations with confidence
  • By accepting and making peace with your Immovables
  • By designing your own personal blueprint for eating – one that fits you
  • By finding the support you need and staying connected with it as long as its needed

If you’d like to explore this in more detail, take a look at TLE Workshop. The 12 chapters will guide you gently, yet solidly, out of the old food-focused diet mentality into a lifelong journey of freedom.

Yea Baby! Let the adventure begin…

To All Us Body-Haters…

9 out of 10 American women have disliked their body for a long time.

liz v kateAfter all, many of us have seen our body as “The Problem” since we were teenagers. We have a constant stream of unrealistic skinny-body images that keep our body-dissatisfaction alive and well.

It’s precisely that long-standing belief that our bodies are the problem, and the consequent negative feelings, that can keep us stuck.

We’ve been feeling this way so long that we might not realize we can challenge it. It’s time to reconsider whether or not this thinking is helpful or true.

We can change our minds.

Here’s a good start:

“Lay down your tired weapons of condemnation. Relinquish the striving. Take a deep breath and decide to step completely out of the battle for thinness and step into the joy of living fully, vibrantly and freely in the only body you will ever have.

“Stop and consider this: your best memories were experienced through that body you live in right now. The most fun you’ve ever had was possible because of your body. The last thing you saw that took your breath away was seen through those eyes in that body. The most moving music you’ve ever heard went through those ears. The dearest expression of love you’ve ever given or received was given and received through that body. That body is uniquely yours. It is the warm, pulsing vessel that houses the essence that is you. It has been your constant companion. It was with you before you breathed your first big gulp of air, and it will be with you when you breathe the last.

“That body is something to be revered and respected.” 

What could happen if you devoted yourself to a deep appreciation of that body, as it is right now?

Where might that affection take you and your health over the next year?

What might happen if you began to treasure that body, to seriously listen to her cues, to lovingly honor her needs?

What might happen if you began to nurture a life-long friendship, a devoted partnership, with your body today?
*adapted excerpt from the newly revised book, The Liberated Eater, by Cindy Landham