What a whirlwind month October was here!
I celebrated my 35th birthday, 6 years of running my own business and attended a women’s leadership conference in Boulder, Colorado.
View from conference hotel
These events were on the heels of two challenging personal years that included a long-distance marriage, a return visit from depression and finishing a graduate degree.
Already open from some raw years, I heard Eve Ensler, Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Alanis Morissette and other women luminaries speak amongst some incredibly reviving Rocky Mountain air.
Speaker after speaker shared their stories of creating new realities based on dancing with their souls. It sounds warm and fuzzy until you realize the soul also contains mystery.
The soul, if you believe in one, is assumed to be deep within the body. It asks you to descend into your depths in a superficial culture. It asks you to honor your intuitive and emotional needs. Oh and did I mention you cannot lie to your soul like you can lie (often unintentionally) to yourself?
A weight-loss example from a recent Biggest Loser episode
Jillian was talking with one of the contestants, Craig, when he revealed that he lost his Dad when he was 10 years old and now, was on the show because he was motivated to be around for his children.
In a tender moment, he shared how his Dad passed. They were playing around when his Dad stopped moving. Craig jumped on top of him and tried to rough him up because he thought he was pretending. He eventually realized he was dead. And – he thought it was his fault. There was clearly grief and guilt that had to be worked through.
It was along the lines of are “you going to obsess about a dead man or are you going to worry about your children.”
This is not about either – or. It’s about “and”, as well as creating a safe space for Craig to express the inexpressible.
Underneath what looked like “motivation” from Jillian was the message to ignore his feelings and his soul’s desire to heal, which by the way, has nothing to do with controlling his food and exercise.
Craig needed to first and foremost, take care of his health by grieving. If you aren’t convinced, please research the (lack of) long-term success, after the camera pressure subsides, of Biggest Loser contestants.
Had I been coaching Craig, I would have listened. Let him start to let go of these emotions by feeling his way through them. I would refer him to a grief therapist and then, coach him to use food to regain his health and in effect, empower him in some ways that trauma often takes away. This includes finding new meaning around his Dad’s death and desire to be around for his children.
Emotional healing translates into sustainable body changes. As Marc David, one of my teachers says, “the body lives downstream of the soul.”
The soul often tries to get your attention through your health challenges, weight and cravings.
It is interconnected with your body (and I’m not saying people attract their illnesses).
Most of my clients don’t have hundreds of pounds to lose. Their “showtime” is more like waking up motivated to eat healthy and lose weight and by evening, saying “what the hell” on a binge. Or they are tracking their food as a way to feel in symbolic control of a culture that has worn away their self-worth and belief in themselves by selling thinness as self-acceptance, love, belonging and happily ever after.
In either case, their soul is trying to get their attention. It may not be as dramatic as having to grieve the loss of a parent, but if you are alive, you know no one rides for free in their life. We all get bumped around.
The challenge is to know how to decode these soul callings disguised as cravings, emotional eating, overeating and binges in a culture whose traditional tools are woefully inadequate. Instead of meeting your struggles with empathy and curiosity, society offers war tactics like bootcamps and online tracking apps, which only reinforces your belief you are powerless over food.
Nutrition and health certainly take discipline. But it’s a discipline of committing to taking back your power over your health and tending to what your soul is craving. It’s simple, yet not easy at all.
Moving forward in these posts, I’ll be exploring how food and your body are a metaphor for deeper emotional work. This isn’t a dramatic departure from what I normally post about.
This doesn’t mean I’m abandoning the food as medicine angle. That is integral in changing your story about food.
Just as functional medicine captivated me when it was on the leading edge, these past several years of hearing your food stories, what they are asking and telling you and supporting you to re-author them is where my fascination lies. It’s also where the most transformations in my clients’ lives occur.
I’ve been charting this new territory related to food, nutrition and weight with daring clients, in my programs and speaking engagements. Now I’ll be sharing it more broadly in my posts. I hope you’ll join me.
In 2014, I’ll be doing different types of posting. Not just email posts but interviews and podcasts. There’s so much nuance to Truce with Food that I find having a dialogue is a great way to support people in their own quest with Truce with Food. I also have some exciting ideas and opportunities I cannot wait to share with you.
My sincerest thank you to my clients and subscribers over the past six years. I’m incredibly fortunate to attract curious minds and early adopters. You’ve kept me on my learning edge. And that is where my soul is most content.