And just like that, I turned 40 on October 1! Per my Dad, “Life’s a bullet train” …
As someone who doesn’t identify much with pop culture, I’m surprised at how 40 feels like a threshold. Not the one our culture wants me to believe, where my worth is like a crashing stock because 40 means declining looks and fertility.
But rather, I’m in a place where I’m clear on myself and my preferences. I’ve tried a lot of things on in my 20s and 30s from cities to jobs to workouts! It’s exhilarating to be clear on what you want and feel like you have the capacity to make those choices happen. None of this would have been possible without my own Truce with Food.
A Truce with Food requires releasing our behaviors, patterns and stories. At one time, they kept us safe. But eventually exhaust us and hold us back from opening our hearts up to the choices we most want to make and try on.
Bingeing, dieting and rewarding myself with food after falling off another diet or another empty work day were attempts to make my own choices, even if they were shitty ones.
As I look back on the last 20 years, when my Truce with Food began, I’m sharing what I would tell my rebellious soul back then. I probably wouldn’t have listened because still to this day, I loathe authority.
If you aren’t as stubborn as me, I hope these hard-won insights will support you as much as they’ve supported me to arrive at 40 content with where I’ve traveled and thrilled to see what will unfold next.
1. Everyone will tell you feeling out of control with food is about control (and probably offer impossible, passive advice to accept we have no control). Battling food is not about control; it’s about feeling like we aren’t in choice. Whether it’s everyday stresses like what we can and can’t eat to big decisions like whether or not to shift our business or careers, we turn to food when we feel like we have no choice, which is often called overwhelmed. Discovering what choices you have and want with your body, health and life is the work.
2. Falling off-track with your eating is an invitation into healing emotional patterns that are ripe for magic and change. I know you think you have it mostly all together, except this food and weight thing. You don’t! And that’s the good news because life can be so much easier and richer than it is now.
Inconsistency is a symptom, not a willpower or discipline problem. Get to the root of why you’re falling off track as fast as you can, because it’s easier than the pain of moving from diet to diet. You’ll find cultivating emotional well-being – in your career, relationships and spirituality – is as foundational as what you eat. Without aligning your food and emotional health, no other wellness bells and whistles (like supplements or essential oils) will be as effective, if at all.
3. Food freedom and safety are different. You live in a country that claims to value freedom. In truth, it loves safety. Freedom involves developing self-trust and self-awareness so you can make independent choices aligned with your deepest truths.
Safety mitigates the very risk that freedom requires. Safety sells following experts, formulas and the status quo. These “safe,” pre-packaged ideas will eliminate uncertainty until they don’t (which feels like failure or falling off track with food or burned out on life). Paradoxically, the safer bet is on cultivating freedom.
It may not feel like it now, but you can trust yourself to find your way. And surround yourself with people who will be guides on the side, not sages from the stage.
4. Most people battling food are wildly creative thinkers, leaders, artists and entrepreneurs that burn their creative energy on battling food and trying to fix their bodies.
The energy you are investing in weight loss is an attempt to channel your creativity into something meaningful (even though you don’t view yourself as creative because you think creativity is painting and drawing… you even have a wildly uncreative definition of creativity right now! Adorable 8-)
You don’t love learning about nutrition and working out. But you are insatiably curious about how food reconnects us to nature and our true nature. Your healing will be where you learn your creative work in the world, one that will feel more meaningful than any number on the scale.
And this is vitally important. Because when we turn this creative flow (or Qi as they say in Chinese Medicine) against ourselves when battling food and our bodies, health and weight problems arise. It’s also why we will “self-sabotage” when things are going well; we need creative tension to keep our energy flowing and vitality pulsing.
Your body truths are discoverable, unique, profound and liberating. This is radical work and will redirect your creativity into the work that’s yours to do in the world. This will bring you even more to life.
If you’re in the mood to reflect on your own aging process, in my recent aging as an eating trigger Insatiable podcast (audio and transcript here), we ways we can detach from the triggers of a youth-obsessed culture and embrace aging gracefully. I also share more reflections on my own edge, both personally and professionally.
To the art of living, which is what aging is at its best!