The thing about having an issue with weight is that it translates to an issue with food. This relationship is something that is mismanaged and misunderstood by the best of them, but when you are dealing with personal challenges, the relationship gets even more murky.
There are so many opinions in the western world for the person who is having self esteem issues around the fact that they are considered overweight or are gaining weight.
There just as many options as there are opinions for the person who is dealing with this and they come from all sides as our culture invests a fortune in keeping the superficial issue of body image in the forefront of the collective consciousness.
We have people on tv, in white coats, claiming to be specialists. They give us the gears for being hefty by informing the population that we are ‘less than’ if we don’t buy their plan for salvation, hook, line and sinker. We hear about Food for nurturing and Food for self numbing as an opiate. Martha Stewart tells us that we need to be making the meals pleasing to the eye, Rachel Ray says we should be making four course meals in half an hour to measure up. Even Oprah, who is a cultural icon in today’s world, has her own kitchen staff that includes a world class chef so she has NO idea what she’s eating as she’s passed that on to her dietitian and yet her weight STILL has more ups and downs than a staircase.
How can a little person from small town wherever, with shoelaces for a budget, compete? How can we get away from the constant berating that we are living with a ‘problem’ and if we aren’t constantly doing something about our ‘problem’, we may as well move to the Tennessee Ozarks into a decrepit trailer park right now. Its bad enough that the reality is our bodies need food for fuel and three times a day or more, we better gas up or we won’t have to worry about it, we’d be dead! How does one address mealtime without confusion when messages are coming at us from everywhere with an opinion of how to think?
As a person with a lotta heft in my left, a lotta junk in my trunk, I take offence at the skinny mini diatribe that besieges me constantly. I don’t WANT to be skinny. My loving hubby doesn’t want a stick. I just want to know what is safe to eat and do while keeping a quality of life that is nurturing and gentle to me. Michelle says that food is not the problem and that we should unearth what it is in us that is the real issue that sends us running to food for a crutch.
I can’t argue with that as in my case, she’s right, but now I’m not running any more. I use food as fuel for sure, but I also eat only what I want, what I crave, what is available at the moment if its not too big a common sense compromise and I stay within boundaries of freshness, proximity to home, organic standards rather than the old days where I would starve all day to eat anything all night, undiscerning between dingdongs and other fattening treats, to fried foods and snack products that have no nutritional quality whatsoever.
In spite of changing so drastically, now that I’m informed, I’m still not losing weight. So what’s up with that?
I am coming to realize that the shifts that have occurred in me are bringing about change, but it’s long term, behavioural change and that means the results will be taking long term to come about as well. This isn’t the ’24 pounds in 24 days’ gimmick; this isn’t some pie in the sky grapefruit and cabbage diet that will yoyo me back and forth through the sizes in my wardrobe. This is a long slow curve that will organically turn me around slowly as I begin to address the need I have to be patient and gentle with myself.
I’ve had harsh judgement and hard times, I’ve been shot, robbed, molested and lied to. Now, I have to turn my back on my need to be nurtured and follow the tenets of ‘no pain, no gain?’ I don’t think so.
In fact, I’ve been thinking… Why IS the diet industry so heartless towards us? Is it in the guise of ‘tough love’ or is it just that patriarchal need to be an authoritative force to motivate us off the couch because we are so fat that the chub is also between our ears and we don’t hear so good unless you’re yelling or berating us.
Case in point are the tv shows that pit people against one another in the ruse of losing the most weight. For days, morbidly obese people are filmed morning, noon and night wearing little more than a spandex jumpsuit in gawdy colours, forced to do unthinkably difficult tasks much to the entertainment and enjoyment of a slim and trim, uber critical audience that must figure as long as we’re pointing fingers at the fatties, no one will notice the cellulite secrets they hide under their girdles.
Not only do the contestants of these shows have to run themselves to the edge of death in order to lose the most weight, but they are also pitted against one another in alliances and secret arrangements that erupt when emotions are stretched to their limits. I’m surprised that these contestants don’t commit suicide in droves, they take so much verbal abuse on top of the humiliation of knowing that millions of viewers watch their bellies jiggle weekly.
To be honest, I began watching these shows out of initial curiosity from my natural sociological stance, but I soon found out that the experience was a little like witnessing traffic accidents. Each participant becomes the victim of her own intentions as they allow constant crap and abuse to belittle and diminish them in mind and spirit under the lame excuse that it would help decrease their girth.
I admit that watching people exercise while I sit on the couch with my sliced mango, stinky cheese and nut plate is far more fun than being in the front of those invasive cameras and a way for me to say to myself, see… that’s how NOT to do it… and this is how TO do it. (As long as somewhere in my day, I manage to disengage from the comfortable furniture to eject myself outdoors to do a bit of adventuring in the fresh air.)
I can’t support any process that isn’t gentle to me. Now, ‘Staying in the love’ is the mantra that helps me to judge whether something is for me or not. I’ve gotten to the point that ideally, i f I must suffer or sacrifice in order to manifest something into my life, then I take that as a signal to self assess why I am overriding my main intention, to be good to my self.
This is me, as I say time and again, your mileage may differ.
I’ve thought about this cultural acceptance thing a lot these past months. Its been frustrating as I picked up the CEDRIC principles and started applying them to my life because I wasn’t seeing immediate physical results. That really messed with me, as I have been diligent, moved through my life with integrity- to myself and to others, utilizing the coping skills I’ve learned, and still I strain to put on my socks with my poor squished organs groaning under the pressure of ribs without enough room, due to pudge. I want to lose weight, I want to fit in chairs, I want to fly without the imminent threat of thrombosis from getting scrunched into tiny seats without being able to move for hours. But I don’t want it if I am going to have to experience one more effing hardship.
This means that changes aren’t going to come overnight. They didn’t pack on overnight, after all.
I suggest that staying in the love is critical. Feed yourself in ways that feel right and responsible for you. Eat fresh, eat lots of leafy green and whole nuts and grains, stay away from artificial ingredients, sugars, refined foods and fried things. Eat till you’re full, eat when you’re hungry and stay in the love. And hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
I haven’t felt a hunger pang that has sent me packin to the snackin since November. Even when faced with trials and tribulations that used to drive me to the snack aisle or worse, the liquor store, I’ve managed to pull out my shiny, wise, newly acquired coping tools and slay that weakening willpower almost effortlessly. I don’t WANT junk in me.
I’m going to persevere. I KNOW that as the weather improves and I ride my bike more, I will finally see what I truly crave, the return of my healthy, whole self. The mind has trimmed up, the rear is always the last to go. But know that once one begins the journey that is loving oneself as one is losing, if you are anything like me at all (human, mortal, alive) your hungers will indeed take a permanent holiday.
ps. I realize that the issue of Hunger is very real. The world has people who are struggling to get enough to eat and I don’t use the word disparagingly. In seeking a graphic to illustrate this article, I google-imaged the word and was reminded that many don’t make it due to the simple need of having enough to live on.
It also reminded me that many might not have the fiscal resources to acquire Michelle Morand’s book, or to take advantage of the Web Program we are developing, or to come in for workshops or counselling sessions… but take heart, as over the next year, ‘Food is not the problem’ will be the theme for my articles and even without the book, follow my ‘Tina’s Journey’ thread, here and in the CEDRIC newsletter (Food is NOT the problem- Find out what is!) to travel through the exercises and processes along with me. Computers are freely available in local libraries so the technology IS available to anyone who desires staying in touch.
There are many hungers, and this article outlines a different kind of hunger, that is, a yearning that becomes a hole needing to be filled, no matter what, no matter how, when we are broken and hurting. CEDRIC suggests that once you have healed that emptiness inside, the rest will follow.
Having a social conscience is a part of being whole and I strive, when I can, to make a difference in the world by volunteering. The issues I choose to support aren’t always about hunger but they are about giving the marginalized a leg up or helping young women realize their full potential, starting with body image.
I’m kicking my old ways of coping to the curb, giving hunger a permanent holiday.
Tina Budeweit-Weeks is a member of the CEDRIC Success Team in the role of staff writer and executive assistant for Michelle Morand. Her philosophy has always been one of self-nurturance and dignity. In support of the complex difficulties clients may experience around regaining a healthy balance, Tina’s writing is designed to sympathize, support, encourage and inform. Although there are many similarities in Tina’s process, she is not a client, but a hard working, behind-the-scenes member of the team, dedicated to helping the CEDRIC Centre stay current and effective.