Mindful Eating #14: Replacing Unwanted Thoughts

Replacing unwanted thoughts (about anything in your life) is a simple and rewarding practice.

Begin with the commitment to notice and observe your thoughts.  Simply notice and observe.  You are only gathering information about yourself right now, you aren’t condemning or teaching yourself any lessons.  It might be helpful to write your thoughts down on paper so you can see them or reread them aloud but you do not have to either of these things if you do not prefer.

When you are comfortable noticing and observing your thoughts, start to pinpoint those that are untrue and negative.  Untrue thoughts might be hard to identify at first so give yourself time to explore what you think.  You can explore by asking yourself questions about specific thoughts.  You can ask, “Is this something that can be proved or is it something I was told to believe?” or “Is this always the case or have I simply always told myself this?” or “What evidence is there that this a hard fact?“.  You can spot negative thoughts easier than untrue thoughts because they will be followed by negative feelings such as judgment, criticism or a general lack of compassion.

After you have pinpointed untrue and negative thoughts, immediately replace them with thoughts that are true and positive.  You might do this by thinking, “Even though I have thought this for a very long time, I know it has never helped me and I will choose to think on something that will be of benefit (your new true and positive thought) instead.

Follow this process up by reminding yourself that every time you replace an unwanted thought with one that is true and positive, you are strengthening your ability to think rationally and positively.  Do not neglect this part!  It serves as a rewarding reinforcement keeping you motivated at replacing unwanted thoughts.  Even if it feels funny or forced, do it.

Here is an example of replacing untrue and negative thoughts you might have when you “fail” or “break” your dietary goals with thoughts that are true, helpful and positive:

Thoughts: “I cannot believe I just ate that.  And so much!  I’m such an idiot.  I’ll never be able to eat right, I’m too weak.  I will just have a bit (but who am I kidding, alot!) more and then start again tomorrow.

Now apply observation, questioning, replacing and celebrating:

Oops, there I go again with untrue and negative thoughts about food and eating.  Let me stop and think about this for a moment.  Why can’t I believe that I ate this?  It is a delicious food and I’ve always enjoyed it and it’s available right here for me to eat.  Most people would surely eat it if they had the chance and they liked it as much as me.  Given this, it might be more strange if I did not eat it at all so it’s actually quite believable that I chose it, but I am not an idiot for it.  The truth is, even though I did not make the best choice right now, I am always capable of eating in a way that supports my dietary goals.  One snack or meal off coarse does not make me a failure, it just means I chose to eat foods or in a way that is not the best for my body.  Thankfully, my body does a very good job at healing itself and this act will not destroy me.  Even if I ate ten more servings of this right now I am not a failure because my food choices have no bearing on who I really am, they only contribute to the health and size of my body.  I have already proven that I can eat correctly (ways that I have decided keep me feeling great) so I know without a doubt that I can eat correctly again.  The reality is, I am a fallible human being, just like everyone else, and at times I will eat when I am not hungry or have foods that do not support my health goals, but right now I will choose to stop eating and do the kindest thing I can think of in this moment, which I know is to not overeat anymore.   I want to feel good when I wake up and I know that continuing to eat will only make me more full, more bloated and more likely to eat poorly again tomorrow.  I am pretty certain that the best choice for me is to end my eating now instead of waiting until tomorrow.  There, now, that was not so bad!  I am learning to replace my thoughts and I am getting better at it!  I think I will clean up and get on with my day.  There are still more things I would like to do.”

This is only one example of replacing unwanted thoughts with truth and positivity.  You can use this practice for any untrue or negative thought and with time it will become more natural and easier to do.

Try it out and leave a comment with your own experiences!

Image from Flickr.

Mindful Eating #11: Why I Binged on Food for 10 Years

Not unlike many people, I decided I wanted to lose weight when I was in college.  I had gained the average 15 pounds (maybe more, OK, it was 30) and felt defeated that none of my clothes were fitting anymore.  I purchased a fitness magazine and starting tracking my calories online.

I followed a calorie-restricted diet and lost alot of weight.  I lost too much, but that is a topic for another post. While losing weight, I had extreme urges to binge on food, and I would binge.

During a binge I felt uncontrollable, not like myself, and powerless to resist my intense desires for huge amounts of food.  This was frustrating, to say the least.

I didn’t realize that I was not eating enough for my body to feel satiated.  I was starving.  Refusing to live (an extreme way to interpret it but true nonetheless).  Consequently, I would experience urges to eat uncontrollably at random times.  I always gave in, felt relief to finally eat and then, of course regretted it.  But I always obeyed the urge and repeated the cycle.

I did this for ten years.

My bingeing was followed by fasting.  I have never purged in the form of self-induced vomiting and I’m too lazy to work out for hours on end to burn off the extra calories.  I would rather just skip a meal (or two, or three).

I thought that once I started eating normal portions of food again and weighed a healthy amount,  the binge urges would go away and no longer disrupt my sanity. But they didn’t. The urges continued after I resumed eating more food.  This was confusing.

It made no sense that I would desire to binge eat when I was already eating enough.

So I read alot on the topic.  I became obsessed at learning everything about this weird and embarrassing way to eat.  The best books I have read explaining binge urges are Brain Over Binge by Kathryn Hansen, and Taming the Feast Beast by Jack and Lois Trimpey.  If you binge eat, read these books.  If you have any habit you feel you cannot kick, read these books.  There are many other wonderful books about binge eating, and how to end the diet-binge cycle, and many of them are very helpful, but these two explain binge urges in particular.

It turns out that bingeing is habitual.  It starts out as a survival mechanism the body uses to get enough food but then it seems to just be a learned behavior.  A habit.  A normal way to eat.

People often think bingeing is associated with a traumatic past or feeling insecure, or an inability to cope with stress.  I thought these things, too, and there is plenty of merit in the ideas. But I examined my past and I could not find trauma that required harming my body with absurd amounts of food (and cannot think of any trauma that demands eating too much food).  I took a look at my confidence level and didn’t find it low enough to demand binge eating (nor found that binge eating improved my confidence, it only weakened it), and I could think of alot of other coping mechanisms for my stress that did not involve eating food.

It perplexed me that I was bingeing. I would binge in many different emotional states.  It was not limited to stress.  It could be when I was happy or tired or apathetic or excited or afraid.  There was really no dominant pattern.

It became obvious to me that I was not bingeing to improve my life, I was doing it because I was doing it.  I did not like that I did it, but it was easy to do and became my normal.

And it was the normal that I chose.  I could have chosen drinking, taking other substances, shopping, playing video games, spending time on social media, or any activity that provided immediate pleasure and relief from an urge, but I note I chose eating because I typically find a lot of pleasure in food the way that someone who finds a lot pleasure in alcohol would choose excessive drinking.

And it did not matter that I was at a healthy weight and that I ate enough to support my body.  I had learned to binge and my brain would signal to do it and I would.  Every time this happened, I strengthened the habit making it more likely that I would do it again.

After I learned that my bingeing was a result of habit, I was able to separate my morality and sense of self from the urges I continued to feel.  This took time because I linked binge eating with my self worth for years, but it was a huge relief when I stopped this association.  The urges, while they did not immediately disappear, did become less threatening and I learned that they were tolerable, resistible and even meaningless.

I did not resist my binge urges right away.  It took experimenting with resisting a binge urge, actually resisting it, and giving in to them for me to really grasp how they were influencing me.  I started to change my beliefs about binge urges.  I decided I no longer had to obey them and that I would be physically fine, and better off, if I didn’t.

Other people have had different experiences with this.  This is just my own.

It was exciting to resist urges to binge.  I didn’t die.  I didn’t feel very much discomfort, to my surprise.  I actually felt happy that I could decide to take better care of my body.  It was rewarding. I noticed that my binge urges were the strongest if I had not eaten enough throughout any given week.  They were stronger if I had overeaten at any one meal and they were strong when I would have foods high in sugar.  They were less when I ate more protein and fat.

Today I use my experiences with resisting urges to binge to my advantage.  I aim to eat protein, fat, and vegetables.  I avoid sugar (mostly) and processed foods.  I know these things help minimize and even remove binge urges so it’s worth it to me to be mindful of what I eat.

I realize that if I don’t eat foods that minimize binge urges, and I indeed experience the desire to binge, that I do not have to.  I never have to.  No one has to.

Knowing this, and because I believe it, my life has changed.  My thoughts have changed, too.  Bingeing no longer gets the best of me and I’m able to see it for what it is–a habit that can be changed.  My binge urges have lessoned tremendously and I’m able to enjoy life so much more.

When I do have an urge to binge, I notice it and allow it to pass.  It always passes.

What do you think about binge eating being a habit?  Have you had an experience with binge urges?  Do you tend to obey them or resist them?  Do you think binge eating is more complicated than being a habit?

Share your experiences by leaving a comment!

You can also email me at sarahsteffenspersonalchef@gmail.com.

Image from Under the Root.

Mindful Eating #10: Choose to ENJOY Taking Care of Yourself

Remember that it is always your choice to take care of yourself.  There might be people in your life that suggest or hope you make healthy choices such as eating real and whole foods and getting enough sleep, but they can only suggest and hope these things.  They cannot make you do anything that you don’t already want to do (on a separate but related note, it is interesting to observe that when we desire to take good care of ourselves, pro-healthy suggestions from others feel like encouragement and kindness and when we do not desire to take good care of ourselves it feels threatening and forceful.  Even when we have asked others to remind us of our goals!  In either perception, the suggestions remain the same but our beliefs about them determine how we receive their advice–merited or unmerited).

Along with the choice to treat your body any which way you desire, it is also your choice to have whatever attitude about maintaining your health goals that you desire.

If you choose to believe that it is relatively easy to pass up servings of food that are much too big for you and that it is pretty simple to shop for nutritious foods at the market each week, your experience doing these things will follow suit and eating less and shopping for healthy foods will be just that–relatively easy and pretty simple.

On the other hand, if you choose to believe that every time you have to say “no” to a second helping of food that it is terribly saddening and that going to the market has become a battle between your new healthy self and former careless self, your experience doing these things will also be just that–terribly saddening (likely unbearable!) and an annoying battle.

The things you chose to do in the above example did not change but your perception of them had, causing your healthy eating and living experience to be either attainable and enjoyable or difficult and disappointing.

It is good to remember that you have the choice to make decisions that contribute to a healthier life.  You are in control of each decision and not only each decision, but of the perception you have while making them.  The next time you find yourself frustrated about any of the goals you have decided to pursue, remember the frustration felt is purely optional and that you can choose to feel enjoyment over your experience as soon as you’re ready.  You might even begin to truly like and prefer all of those things that seemed like such a big, difficult deal.

Of course, this is only a suggestion and a hope.  You always have the final say.

Image from The Nifty Fifties Tumblr.

Mindful Eating #9: Do You Accept Yourself?

I have been interested in eating healthy for most of my life, but it wasn’t to treat my body well or to feel good.  It was to lose weight.

I can remember being in elementary school, portioning out crackers to pack in my school lunch, wanting to know how many calories I was eating, hoping that I would become a slimmer version of myself by restricting my food.

Just one size smaller, just a few pounds thinner.  Then I would be comfortable and my life would be better.

Then I could focus on others things like hobbies and a career.

Then I would accept myself.

As I got older, I educated myself on nutrition, and was convicted to eat the purest and healthiest foods possible.  I counted calories for a few years, was a vegetarian for a few, got rid of all processed foods, and later adapted a diet of real foods.

I wish I could say that my goal was for health, but it wasn’t.  It was always to lose weight.

I finally did lose weight after college through very restricting dieting (too much which had very negative effects on my body and mind), and when I couldn’t afford to lose any more and I still wasn’t happy or accepting of myself, I became confused about why I tried to eat healthy at all.

It is not surprising that I cycled through periods of binge eating during my years of very restrictive dieting,  It was very difficult to maintain a weight that was too low for me, and very uncomfortable to starve my body of the nutrients it needed.

It often bewildered me that I would cycle through periods of very healthy eating, then periods of self-sabotaging eating that left me feeling sick and gross.  This opposing pattern proved to me that I wasn’t interested in health for actual health.  I was interested in it to get thin.  When getting thin was too hard, I wasn’t interested in it at all.

During this season, I had done quite a bit of reading on accepting myself, and eating to treat my body well, and quitting the diet/binge habit.  It sounded really nice–accepting myself, but I couldn’t.  I didn’t believe I was acceptable unless I was losing weight.

It was only a few years ago that I really gave some serious thought to accepting myself no matter what I weighed or looked like, and eating healthy to be kind to my body.

What if I only ate healthy because I cared about how nutritious foods made me feel?  What if I chose to be happy and comfortable with myself no matter what I looked like or what I weighed?

I attempted to take this approach, but it did not come very easily.  I did not decide to accept myself, and then became a natural at it overnight.

It required daily determination to stop letting my weight determine my value.  When a thought entered my mind that tied my personal success with my weight, it had to be replaced with truth immediately.  When disappointment surfaced after looking in the mirror, I had to remind myself that the self-hatred I was cultivating had gotten me nowhere, it felt unfortunate, was distracting me from more important issues, and was not helping me in any way.

It dawned on me one day that I might look the way I look today for the rest of my life.  Sure, I will look older, get wrinkles, and age spots, and gray hair, but I might weigh what I do now until the day I die.

Would this be OK?

Would I choose to stress about something that may never change for the rest of my life?  Would I let this obsession determine my happiness, comfortability, and confidence until I die?  Would I fret about this more than important issues that are happening all around me?  More than caring about other people?  More than connecting with family and friends?  More than making a positive contribution in the world?

We all have one life.  We get to choose what we value and how we spend our time, and what we believe.  We get to think what we want to think.  We get to feel what we want to feel.

I chose self acceptance because the path of self-hatred was exhausting.  It robbed me of happiness.  It kept me from being present.  It made my life small, and it didn’t even allow me to do what I wanted it to in the very beginning–eat healthy to lose weight.

Self acceptance is about so much more than being OK with what you weigh or what you look like, but for those who can’t even claim these things, it’s certainly a start in a positive direction.

What about you?

Do you consider yourself someone who accepts yourself?  Who accepts your body how it is right now?  If not, when will your body be good enough for you to accept it?  When will you choose to be happy, comfortable, and confident?  Do you really believe that a number on the scale or a size of clothing can provide you with the feeling you are looking for?

Image from Johanna Ost.

Mindful Eating #8: Should You Weigh Yourself?

With Mindful Eating comes a variety of other areas relating to our lives, that are to be explored.  Many times I write about the simple act of eating, but I often ponder the countless links between our beliefs of food, our bodies and spirituality.

Today I bring up a question we all are confronted with, often, or rarely, but surely.

Should you weigh yourself?

There are a few popular approaches when it comes to stepping onto the scale to check how much you weigh.

Some people say it is a good source of accountability for maintaining their weight.  These people likely weigh themselves daily, or every week, or so.  They tend to know their weight at most, if not all, times.

Others say that the scale is meaningless and to throw it out.  They say they rely on how their clothing fits instead of their weight.  These people might know roughly how much they weigh, but they don’t make a habit out of reminding themselves based on a conviction that their weight really doesn’t really.

And, there are others, who haven’t decided one way or the other what to do with their scale (or if they should get a scale). They get anxious just thinking about stepping on it, and they get anxious just thinking about throwing it out.  Mostly, these people are just anxious.

It’s interesting to note how people approach their scale and how much power they give it.

A generalization is that those people who weigh themselves daily care alot, or more likely, too much, about how much they weigh.  They are known to be happy when they see lower numbers on the scale and upset when they see higher numbers (assuming they are maintaining or trying to lose weight).  Their whole day might very well be a reflection of the number they saw on the scale earlier that morning.  They might eat more or less based on their weight.  They might think they are a better or worse person depending on the number they see.

But this is only a generalization.  There exists many people who are in the habit of weighing themselves regularly who are not in the bit least tempted to base their success, happiness, or morality on what the scale reads.  They may make adjustments in what they eat based on how much they weigh, but it only goes as far as that.  They don’t view themselves differently or expect others to view them differently if their weight goes up or down.

In the same way, it would be a generalization to say that the people who rely on their clothing as the indicator of their weight, were of a balanced approach and to be used as worthy role models (as popularly taught).  They may not routinely weigh themselves, but they may be caught up in habitual self acceptance or self hatred based on their body size (how their clothing fits on it) on any given day.  They have the same mindset as the person who relies on a magic number on the scale only it is directed at a number on their wardrobe tag.

The truth is, no matter what you do with your scale, or if you have one at all, it really doesn’t matter.

There is alot of advice about the scale, these days.  People get very passionate about the topic. They may say to step on it daily to keep yourself motivated (to either maintain, lose or gain weight) or get it out of your house immediately because your weight is only your gravitational force to planet Earth (interesting point).

The important thing to remember about scales and using or not using them, is that it is your choice.

If you want to weigh yourself, you can.  If you don’t, you don’t have to.  If you want to remain anxious about the whole idea, so be it.

Know that no matter what the scale reads, it is your choice with how you will respond.  No matter how your clothes fit, you get to decide how you will feel about yourself and your day. And if you decide to remain undecided, you get to choose how you will deal with not knowing.

So, do what works for you.  Use your scale, or not, or never decide.  It is my opinion that your weight has nothing to do with anything noteworthy about today, but again, that is up for you to decide.

What do you think about this?  Do you think it matters how much you weigh?  How much others weigh?  Do you have a better day when you weigh a specific number or does it not mean very much to you?

Leave a comment to share your opinion!

Image from Smart Alex.

Mindful Eating #6: If You Think Being Fat is Bad

You would not say it out loud, but you might think that being fat makes you bad.  Worthy of mockery.  Deserving of shame.  The worst thing in the world.

It’s not.

Being fat is a situation you might find yourself in if you have been in the habit of overeating or bingeing.  It might be a physical revelation of inflammation or hormonal imbalance or lingering weight from past pregnancies.

But being fat, having excess body mass, weighing more than other people or more than you did at another point in time, does not make you bad.

If you have ever thought that you are a bad person for being overweight, it is because you believe that fat is wrong.

You might believe this because you think the way to to get fat is to overeat, and overeating is wrong, so fat is wrong.

You might believe this because you think fat is ugly, or that it requires laziness, or dirtiness, and all of those things are disgusting which makes fat disgusting which makes you disgusting.

While some people do become fatter for eating too much or not moving their bodies much, they do not become worse people, and they do not deserve public shaming.

Being fat may complicate your life (as may being thin) for a variety of reasons, but remember that fat is only extra weight your body is maintaining.

It is not your soul, your spirit, your mind.  It isn’t your sense of humor, or your generosity, your intelligence, kindness, love, or wonder for the world.

It is a physical condition, and that is all.

You can lose weight.  You can gain weight.  And in the end, you choose what you believe about it.  You choose what you do about it.

I am not suggesting that it does not matter if you are fat.  Being fat may make you suspect to disease, early death, or a difficult life (physically, at the very least, emotionally, because other people, including yourself, may view your fatness as a problem needing to be shamed).

What I am suggesting is that it matters how you view fat.

If you are fat, how do you view yourself?

Safe?  Hidden?  Protected?

Powerful?  Disabled to feel pain or sadness?  Above vanity and superficiality?

Lazy?  Glutton?  Unfortunate?  Ugly?  Victim?  Bad?

You have not become a worse person for weighing more than you did at another point in your life, or more than people around you.

You can believe that or not, but try to keep perspective in the matter.

Hatred is bad.  Injustice is bad.  Bitterness is bad.

But extra weight is just extra weight.  Decide if you want to do anything about it, accept the situation you are in, and move forward how you like.

Reserve disdain for those tragedies that deserves such negative feelings.

Your body isn’t one of them.

Image from Pinterest.

Mindful Eating #4: Eating Your Troubles Away

Some people improve their diets in an attempt to improve the troubles in their life.  This is referred to as eating your troubles away.

But the truth is, you cannot eat your troubles away.

You can eat. And eat. And eat.

But if you have troubles, and they extend beyond the trouble of physically starving, eating will cause you to feel physically satisfied, full, or very full, with the latter adding a set of new troubles to your pre-existing list of woes–these being poor digestion, stomach aches, bloating, night sweats, weight gain, and probably more.

The hope is that a better diet will solve your problems, that improving the foods you consume will improve your body, and help you think more clearly, and then its positive rewards will spill over onto the rest of your life.

Make your job easier to handle, make your relationships better, just make things better.

And we want better.  So badly.

This is the hope.  Sometimes conscious.  Often subconscious.

While it is true that eating good foods will improve your health, (maybe) improve your body composition, and help you think more clearly, it will not solve all of your problems.

You will still have troubles.

Dieting (whether simply cleaning up the foods you eat or deliberately restricting/limiting the foods you eat) can serve to distract you from your troubles, whether it is loneliness, insecurity, feeling without purpose, or feeling a loss of control in general, but if these issues are not dealt with, as fiercely as you focus on dieting, improving your eating only means that you eat better while maintaining troubles.

You will still experience loneliness, and insecurity, still feel confused about what your purpose is, and still feel anxious about not being able to control situations if you only address your diet, and not the actual troubles that are an inevitable part of being a human being.

Contrasting a tight grip on your diet, some people like to link overeating to their daily troubles. They say they eat too much because of their troubles. Because they are lonely (or sad, or happy, or bored, or overwhelmed).

I think people overeat because they like overeating. I think they may use it as an escape from their troubles, but only because it is their escape of choice. If they didn’t like overeating, the way they didn’t like drinking too much (assuming they do not abuse alcohol), they wouldn’t keep choosing to overeat.

The idea of eating your troubles away is fantastical. It’s clever, and alot of people keep trying to do it in order to improve the rest of their lives (and perhaps it is their best option until they learn coping mechanisms that actually serve them), but it should be kept in perspective.

Improving what you eat only improves what you eat.

If you want to start here, on your quest to tackle your troubles, with a better diet, absolutely go for it. But remember, you will still need to address the other areas of your life that may be going neglected now that you are so focused on food.

Your purpose, your career, your lover, your family, friends, spiritual beliefs–they are all waiting for you.

If you work to improve your diet, good, good, good!

Just don’t forget about the rest of your life.

Image from Flickr.

Mindful Eating #3: Self Acceptance is Your Choice Today

You cannot isolate mindful eating from body shame, guilt and self-rejection.

If you have body shame, if you hate yourself, your situations, your life, it is going to be very difficult to cultivate the practice of mindfulness with food, and with everything, for that matter.

If you rely on punishment, judgement, motivation, and fear to do the work of mindfulness for you, it is going to be all of those things.  It is going to be heavy and confusing.  Dark, inconsistent.

If body shame and self-rejection have been a part of your philosophy and you are weary from its webs, self-acceptance, the breath of relief about where you are right now,  is available to remind you of love.  And kindness.  Compassion.  Empathy.  Awareness.  Life.  

A common misconception about accepting yourself is that if you do its work, you will become a less than desired version of yourself and never achieve any of your goals and be stuck in a life you define mediocre, unsatisfying, boring or passive.

As it relates to food, the misconception is that self-acceptance will interfere with self-discipline, trapping you in a body you will never truly be at home in.  That you could never truly be grateful for, or dare love.

But this isn’t true.  And when broken down, you find it is rooted in even more fear, shame and guilt, perpetuating a vicious cycle of self-hatred that has never served you.

I read about accepting myself, exactly as I was and where I was at in life, a few years ago.  The idea seemed simple, but it was very threatening and felt impossible to cultivate.

It seemed simple because all self-acceptance required of me was a decision to stop rejecting myself when I felt inadequate (there is always a que triggering our panicked responses, be curious about what sends you down these chaotic paths). Self-acceptance didn’t necessitate anything outside of myself such as a job promotion, approval from others, better relationship with a lover, or reputation, or a better house, car, bigger bank account, or fill in the blank.

It didn’t require working up to anything before it could be practiced, except the decision to practice it.

Because of this, it was also very threatening.

If self-acceptance didn’t have anything to do with outside affirmation and influences, and only had to do with my decision to practice it, then it was entirely my own choice to be comfortable and happy with who I was.

And I wasn’t comfortable or happy with who I was.  I didn’t meet my own marks.

So, I didn’t accept myself.  Or my body.  Or my life.  And I felt heavy, trapped, and stuck on a path that was dark and lonely and without a future.

Sometimes it seems easier, or even appropriate, to decide to hold off accepting yourself until “x”, “y”, or “z” happens.

Examples as they relate to diet and fitness:

  • Losing the last 5 pounds (or 10, or 15, or 20).
  • Getting a flatter stomach (or more toned arms, or thinner thighs or whatever).
  • Fitting into your ideal size jeans.
  • Eating what you think is the perfect diet (and never blowing it).
  • Eliminating all feelings of inadequacy.

You are entitled to all of these goals (though all are not always worth your time), but when they necessitate your own self-acceptance, your comfort and happiness rely on their existence, and typically remain in the past or in the future.  You might remember a few years ago as a happier time because you were thinner, or you might wait to be happy next month, when you finally (you hope), lose weight or eat perfectly (as you define it).

But what about right now?

What about being comfortable and happy with who you are and with your life today?

The belief is that achieving your goals with food and fitness (and everything else) will make you happy.  That they will erase, or at least soothe, life’s difficulties.  That things will make more sense, you will have more clarity, and you will finally be comfortable with who you are and where you’re at.

And that others will be comfortable and happy with who you are and where you’re at.

But this is only an illusion.

The reality is that you will continuously be growing and evolving with the seasons of life.  You will experience hardship, and loss, and pain, and devastation, and it will hurt. It will hurt so much.  But breathing into these experiences, being mindful of their purpose in your life, mindful of how you treat your body during these challenges, you will be relieved by all that is beautiful–grace, mercy, and kindness, friendship, love, and laughter.  And hope.

Your body will change.  Your face will change.  Your hair will change.  And everything and everyone else will change, too.  For the better, and for the worse.

You will get promotions, and offers, and approvals, and rejections.

You’ll make friends, and then take different paths.

You will meet a lover and grow together, and you might lose them, and you might never.

And you can choose to accept yourself the entire time.

You can choose to be comfortable and happy about who you are and where you are at.  You can certainly try to improve yourself and situations, but the safety that keeps you at home in your body will be in the process of choosing self-acceptance and will be available to be enjoyed and expressed lovingly, like you would with someone you cared about.  It will serve you better than the negativity, judgment, anxiety, and worry that is to be found in the guilt and shame of self-rejection.

Accepting yourself breaks down the walls of guilt and shame that you’ve built all around you, so that you are finally liberated to go out and do what you need to do in this life without the burden of hating yourself or feeling stuck.

The truth is, accepting yourself will not turn you into a lazy and unlikable slob and prevent you from living a life you are proud of.  It will relieve you, allow you to get over what is keeping you from moving forward, and free you to enjoy the short time you have to breath and love and wonder.

If you’re in the habit of waiting for something or someone to liberate your self-rejection, why not try choosing to do it yourself and see how it goes?

Why not see if you can enjoy who you are and where you’re at today?

And then try it tomorrow, and the next day, and then the next.

Keep goals, and keep learning, and keep exploring, because it keeps things interesting, and challenging, and rewarding, but keep in mind that you are exactly where you need to be right now to choose self-acceptance.

This is mindfulness.  This is the work of being alive in your body, with all of your senses, with all of your intentions and energy.  With your choices and your time.  With your life.

This is for you, right now.

Image from Paris Hotel Boutique.