Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Diet And Fitness Un-Challenge: Part 1

The topic of food and ones relationship to it is ever present. We can’t flip through a magazine, turn on our televisions or open up Yahoo’s homepage and not see an advertisement or article referencing the state of our body’s index. We are inundated with diets, workouts and supplements all marketed towards us with our insecurities in mind. I just finished reading Portia De Rossi’s book “Unbearable Lightness”, her epilogue alone is worth a trip to Barnes and Nobles to sit and read it for ten minutes, especially if you have ever dieted, binged, purged, starved or have a habit of overeating.

With the holiday season upon us diet companies so-called fitness guru’s and celebrities will bombard the public with their wares trying to convince us that if we were 10 or 20 pounds lighter our lives would be somehow happier and more complete. How many times have we spent our money on diet books, eating programs, food delivery services, supplementation, etc., only to be left with a new regimen, another mental preoccupation and less happier in the end? All of this simply takes us out of our own ‘knowingness’.
Recently I was asked by an acquaintance, “What should I eat?” Knowing that this type of question is looking for validation, my reply was, “What do you like to eat? What do you think you should eat?”  My feeling on this is to eat what you like, but bring your awareness to what it is that you are eating as you consume it and then watch what happens.

I’ve gained weight, I’ve lost weight, I’ve been sick from overeating and not eating. I ate certain things because a book or a fitness trainer told me I needed to and all the while left not feeling well, constipated and still unhappy. The way I eat today is very different; I eat what I feel best on. Not because the government created some pyramid or Patanjali instructs me too. I love chocolate, fresh cheeses, delectable pastries and red wine and consume at least two of those items everyday and some days I happily double up. Any nutritionist will tell you there is not much nutritional value in any of those things except for maybe releasing some delightful feel good chemicals in my brain, but I find them to be some of the pleasures of life and will partake in those things as long as I continue to enjoy them. I would not impose the way I eat onto anyone. It has taken me years to find what works best for me and it wasn’t until I started to slow down and bring some awareness into what it was that my body wanted did ease come about.

If you feel better eating nothing but McDonalds or eating nothing but Twinkies who is anyone to tell you what you consume is wrong, and the notion that one can purify the mind or body through food is nonsense. You may be able to eliminate waste and toxins out of certain organs, gain weight or lose weight and shifts in energy may change through diet but that’s it. It has nothing to do with who you really are and if you think it does then you are bound to a never ending despairing cycle, being completely identified with your body. I know people who eat very wholesome foods even raw diets that live in constant egoic contraction and other people that eat very rich diets completely at ease with themselves and life and as the proverb states, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”.

Medical issues aside i.e. diabetes, arthritis, celiac, thyroid, etc. Having someone else who tells you what and when to eat is not natural. I truly believe we all know what our bodies need. As this year comes to a close, maybe save your money this time around, slow down a bit, and bring some awareness into what you are feeding yourself, you may come to be pleasantly surprised. I guarantee, if you just take a moment, take a breath and feel what it is your body needs your feelings will change about what you eat. Start with only one meal or one snack; don’t take it all on at once. It will all work itself out. This simple practice only requires that you slow down a bit and check in with yourself, no overhaul to become overwhelmed with and no band wagon in sight.

My message always goes back to this: Come back to yourself, inquire within and be okay with what you find. Consider this your “Un-challenge”.

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