I finished a book on Sunday.
It changed my life.
I’m keeping the title a secret for now, because it’s slightly misleading. The book is about how we view ourselves, why we do the things we do, and how to make it better without forcing and abusing ourselves.
We learn that we’re bad from a very young age. We’re taught that our bodies are separate from our minds. We live in a mind-based society where we sit and read and compute and learn, and we get the running-playing-dancing joyous movement squeezed out of us.
“Don’t touch that!”
I used to teach preschoolers. My class was always, by far, the best class in the school because I didn’t teach them stillness or quiet. I taught them to play, to move. We had reading time, sure, but then we would play. We would dance, we would sing, we would go outside and run. When the weather was outside-prohibitive (which happens a lot in summer in Texas), we would sneak outside for 10 minutes at a time or I’d clear out the center of our room and we’d run and play tag or spin in circles inside.
Most adults will agree that kids need to move. Kids need to play. Kids need to spend time outside.
So why do we think adults don’t?
We sit around staring at our computers, sitting at our desks, sitting on our couches. And then we wonder why we’re depressed and overweight and unhealthy!
But it’s more than that. We’ve started using food as a substitute for all the emotions we’re suppressing. Need connection? Eat something. Need comfort? Grab a snack. Need excitement? Go out to eat. Need socialization? Eat! Feeling depressed? Stuff food in your face!
And it works. Temporarily. We eat and we feel better. The chemicals in the “food” we eat make us feel sated, even if we’re really not. Ice cream can’t replace even five minutes with a friend, but we’ve learned to feel as if it does.
When I was a little girl, my parents owned a frame gallery. It was attached to our house, so they could both work while my brother and I were both left to our own devices. My brother rode his little firetruck up and down our driveway a hundred million times.
I sat on the couch and ate.
I used food as my love and comfort, because my parents were busy and needed to work.
Now, I don’t blame my parents. They were doing the best they could, and I respect their decisions and I love them both a huge lot. But they were busy, and I was (and am still) high maintenance and need lots of attention to feel loved. I wasn’t getting enough. Food was readily available, and I learned that eating made me feel better, feel less alone.
A habit I carried long into my adult life.
But this book, helped along by several personal revelations, really brought all this to light for me. It offered the simple advice of turning food back into food – nourishment and sustenance – and finding ways to get my other needs met. It advised thinking about why you’re eating, every time you go to eat something.
Thinking about eating isn’t something we usually do, other than a great anticipation for our next meal.
There are two big points in the book; this is one of them. Thinking about what you eat before you eat. Consider your food. Is it even real food? Here’s a hint: if it has a paragraph of ingredients, it’s likely not real. It’s been processed far beyond what food needs to have done to it, and if it says “enriched” – that means they’ve taken the nutrients out of it and put them back in. This blows my mind. It also prevents the nutrients from nutrienting our bodies; we can’t process man-made nutrients very well.
I digress. This one thing, considering my food and the reasons I’m reaching for it, has drastically changed my eating habits in only a few days. I found that, when I’m not actually hungry, I’m motivated to eat by desires and needs for other things, things that food is only a (poor) substitute for: comfort, affection, play, socialization, reassurance. Once I know what I really need, I seek it out.
For example, at the grocery store yesterday, I reached for a pint of ice cream. I read the ingredients (a very short list), and deemed it acceptable. But once I had it in my cart, I started thinking about why I wanted it, what I would feel when I ate it. I realized I was really desperate for comfort and reassurance, so I put the ice cream back. When we got home, I snuggled with Pace for a while. My needs were met and I felt much better – without the ice cream!
The other main point of the book is movement; back to what I was talking about earlier. We stop moving somewhere in our youth, and most of us don’t ever get it back. But we’re creatures of movement, and it’s against our nature to sit still so much! Once we find the joy in movement, we might find that we don’t want to sit still, we don’t want to stop moving. Dance, run, bike, swim, spin in circles, wiggle, fidget, swing, bounce. Move. It feels awesome and natural, once you overrun those ingrained patterns.
There’s far more information in the book than I can convey to you here, so I will unveil the title and hope you get it for yourself. Don’t let the title mislead you, though – it’s about life and living it joyously rather than just food. Transformational Weight Loss, and it’s for sale as a tree book on Amazon or an ebook on his site. I can’t recommend it enough!