Have You Given Away Your Power?

There were times in my past when I hated my body for not being perfect.

I’d conceal it under baggy sweatshirts and pants. I'd dodge mirrors. I’d hide on the couch instead of going to parties. I’d push away boyfriends when they tried to wrap their arms around my waist.

Many of us reject our bodies when they don’t conform to the ideal size and shape dictated by our culture.

However, rather than self-rejection, what we really need to reject are the lies we’re incessantly fed (and buying into) about how our bodies are supposed to look.

We need to reclaim our power by loving and accepting our bodies unconditionally, and not becoming victims of the profit-making machine that thrives on making us feel inadequate, deficient, less than.

How I Reclaimed My Power
When I started partnering with my body instead of rejecting it, our relationship drastically changed. I began experiencing a sense of ease, peace and freedom I hadn’t felt since I was a very young girl (before I started believing all the BS).

Here are some of the ways I took back my power:

  • I stopped believing I could hate, deprive, restrict, starve and punish myself into a version of myself that I finally loved and accepted.
  • I started trusting my body again to guide me toward food choices based on what my body really wanted and needed. I no longer made eating decisions based on calories, diet plans, my weight, how many miles I ran, etc.
  • I stopped feeling guilt and shame when I ate so-called “bad” foods.
  • I stopped constantly weighing myself and letting the number on the scale dictate my feelings, mood and behavior.
  • I fired my inner mean girl and started speaking to my body—and about it—with kindness, compassion, respect and gratitude.
  • I created a more body-positive culture by ditching media (e.g., magazines, TV shows, websites) that promoted and perpetuated the thin ideal.
  • I trusted that if I took care of myself holistically—that is, my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being—that my body would settle into its natural weight.

This journey hasn't been fast or easy. But, man, has it been worth it. I’m still a work-in-progress, but I’m never turning back.

How can you reclaim your power?

Do Your Meals Include This…?

During a recent family visit, we reminisced about how my mom would make a heart-shaped meatloaf and individual heart-shaped Jell-O desserts for our Valentine’s Day dinner when we were kids.

While the meal was tasty, what made it the most memorable was the best ingredient of all: love.

When food is prepared with love, it embodies an energetic quality that nourishes us on a much deeper level than food hastily prepared without much care or consideration for those consuming it.

Think about some of your most memorable meals. Were they infused with love?

Cooking for One
Some of my clients declare they don’t like to cook for themselves.

Why bother going to all the trouble? They either pop a frozen dinner into the microwave, order take-out, or dine on cheese and crackers.

When they start cooking for themselves to improve their physical health, they are surprised to discover how their homemade meals also elevate their mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

They hadn’t anticipated how profoundly nourishing it is to slow down and devote time, energy and care toward thoughtfully planning, preparing and consuming their meals.

An Act of Self-Love
Cooking for yourself is an act of self-love. It shows you’re worth the effort.

I love the ritual of selecting ingredients at my local farmers’ market to prepare meals for myself.

While I enjoy cooking for others, I find the experience of crafting my own meals to be very meditative, grounding, therapeutic, pleasurable, empowering, rewarding, and nourishing on every level.

If you currently view cooking for yourself or others as a burden, I encourage you to start adding love into the mix. It truly is the most powerful ingredient you can infuse your food with.

P.S. "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients." –Julia Child

Are You Sabotaging Yourself With Entitlement Eating?

When I was training for marathons, my long Sunday runs were followed by a feast of sweet treats from breakfast pastries and midday cookies to a hefty bedtime dessert. I ran a gazillion miles after all, I deserved it!

I call this Entitlement Eating.

As in, "I did X, therefore I'm entitled to eat (or drink) Y."

It sounds something like this:

  • I worked out really hard; I deserve an extra scoop of ice cream.
  • I nailed my presentation; I’ve earned a few beers.
  • I ate really healthy this week; I'm entitled to this bag of chips.
  • I survived a hard day at work; I’ve earned some wine.
  • I endured a horrible commute; this huge dinner is well justified!

Can you relate? 

Want Dessert? Clean Your Plate
Most of us were conditioned at a very young age to view food as a reward for our good deeds and achievements, whether it was behaving well in church, eating all our dinner, cleaning our room, receiving an A or scoring a goal.

Don't get me wrong—I’m not saying food shouldn’t be a part of the celebration equation. Or that entitlement eating is a terrible thing. Even though it may not seem like it, it’s actually a way of taking care of ourselves, of fulfilling our natural human desire for recognition, appreciation, comfort and pleasure.

When It's a Problem
Entitlement eating becomes a problem when it results in negative outcomes. For example, when it…

  • Sabotages your goals and intentions
  • Becomes the norm rather than the exception 
  • Creates an excuse to eat or drink more than your body needs
  • Makes you feel cruddy—physically, mentally and/or emotionally
  • Drives other behaviors that compromise your well-being, like alcohol-induced overeating and crappy sleep that leads to skipping your morning workout, attacking the office candy jar and snapping at your partner

For me, my post-run sugar binge left me feeling headachy, cranky, bloated, achy and fatigued (and craving more sugar). My entitlement eating certainly didn’t honor my body’s amazing abilities or help it recover properly. Nope, it clobbered it.

I’ve since learned that the best reward for my accomplishments is how they make me feel—strong, powerful, confident, energized, joyful. All feelings that I’m incredibly entitled to experience—and that last a lot longer than a cupcake.

What's your relationship with entitlement eating? Is it time to shed some habits that are no longer serving you?