Over the next 20 days, this yogi, with a history of eating and body image disorders, has vowed to clean up her chaotic eating from a place of compassion and non-judgment and blog about it in hopes that it starts a conversation for others who also experience food to be a dual path of healing and crazy.
I identify as a yogi.
Some would say that a yogi should, by definition and practice, already embrace clean eating. I agree. But as a yogi with a long-standing relationship with disordered eating and body image, I walk a slippery slope with my food.
Sometimes I am squeaky clean, sometimes I am somewhere in the middle—and sometimes I am so far from it, it hurts. But wherever I find myself on the path, I try to accept where I am with compassion. This doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the need to make changes. Instead, it means I shine a light on my habits and beliefs and make the necessary adjustments without judging or killing the messenger.
In this case, the messenger is the part of me that keeps opening the bag of potato chips: she is the one in pain.
The messenger, by the way, is complex. It is a combination of our physical bodies telling us what we need and the parts of our selves we have cut off or banished telling us to pay attention to them. Their actions, whether they show up as chaotic eating or addiction, is the messenger’s not so subtle way of trying to get out.
When he or she shows up, we must realize we are being handed a gift. In order to deal with our underlying forces, we have to really get to know ourselves and how to deal with our life. We can’t afford to play at it—we have to get real.
Okay: I am getting real and recognize I am way off the healthy eating path. As a yogi, I believe our bodies don’t lie. My body has heartburn—this is its way of telling me that something is wrong.
I also feel lots of anxiety and dread, especially when it comes to making wholesome dinners for my family. It feels much easier to order pizza, which lately I have been doing a lot of. I have even been drinking wine (it’s kind of a carry over thing from all our summer parties) and tell myself only one glass of pinot, but somehow, one glass is not enough and leads to two.
I consume sugar and often times binge on handfuls of greasy chips—anything that is easy to get a hold of and gives me quick energy.
I am in training for a half marathon and have upped my weekly mileage from 12 miles per week to about 26. I am a mom of three kids and own my own yoga studio. I practice yoga, teach yoga and am under a self-imposed deadline to write a book.
Yes, I have to calm my crazy and look at the tightrope I walk when it comes to balancing my life. Making time for my own dietary needs, right now, feels like too much work—but the truth is I am paying the price and its not just with heartburn and pants that feel tight around my middle.
Each morning, at 5:45am, in the company of good friends, I go for a run, and when I am done, it is no exaggeration to say I feel amazing. This is the good stuff. The morning run makes me glow and feel blessed for being alive. I am sure it’s a direct result from the combination of released endorphins and the sunsets that rise up in the trees each morning as I make my way down a hushed and soft bike path embedded in the woods.
Regardless of how radiant I feel each morning, by lunch time I feel bad and gross.
By noon, I have eaten lots of terrible food; food that doesn’t serve me. Coffee and toast with butter for breakfast, followed a few hours later by handfuls of tortilla chips, as I decide what to make for lunch. Maybe I should have a salad, but the washing, spinning and chopping feel like too much work even though I have the time.
Instead, I opt for a sandwich and eat more bread with processed cheese and mayo. No greens, grains, or healthy protein choices. No substance. No surprise I am hungry an hour later and am looking for quick energy and the crappy eating begins again.
More handfuls of chips and chunks of bread. This time, I break off a piece of dark chocolate from a bigger bar. Wait, one square isn’t enough, so I break off a second one and eat it. And then break off another.
I stop myself, not quite satisfied; a chaotic food cycle has emerged.
I have decided to take the next 20 days and do something about it. Why 20 days you ask? (Okay, maybe you didn’t ask.) But my reason for this is because in 20 days, I will be running the Hartford half marathon and I want to be in the best possible physical condition I can, even though I am only planning on running this event at 11and a 1/2 minute miles, which is kind of slow.
So slow they might have to clean me up with a street sweeper. (I heard they really do put one on the streets to move the stragglers along—I am not just making this up.)
The other reason, and the one that feels the most truthful, is that I am proud of myself for setting out to run a half marathon and to have actually gotten myself in good enough shape to be able to run 13. 1 miles! I had to overcome chronic tight quads and calves and mega amounts of negative self talk and inner bullshit to get here.
If I can do this with running, then I can tackle my resistance with food.
Plus, I want to feel good. I want to surrender the next 20 days to training. I want to be as healthy and radiant as I can. Eating food that doesn’t serve me deadens the goodness I feel after I run; it sabotages me and renders me a victim. It goes against my true nature of being content and free.
Preparing for this marathon has reminded me, once again, it is within my power to eat in a way that sustains me and makes me feel just as sexy and alive as running (and yoga) does.
And I do recognize, that for those of us who have life long issues with food and body, getting to freedom and ease is a process. Sometimes we feel like we have mastered it and sometimes, something as common as an over-loaded schedule can throw us back in the pit.
I suspect that in order to nourish myself with food, I am going to have to look at the ways I lack nourishing myself in my everyday. I will have to slow down to give food the time and attention it needs to get on the table.
I will have to listen to the messenger and not kill her.
I will be blogging on this process for the next 20 days. I am interested to see what develops and welcome conversation from others who have walked or are walking this path.
After all, we are not separate—to think that we are is part of the problem.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise