Welcome to part 3 of my experience with mindful eating. The section is a bit of random thoughts about practicing mindful eating to conclude this series. Enjoy!
1. The guidelines are more than they seem.
In looking at the previous two posts on mindful eating and the eating guidelines, I realized I was describing them as a list of things to do and felt like I needed to convey that they were so much more than that. Geneen Roth says “the eating guidelines are like nested Russian dolls; they are exactly what they appear to be and they are also worlds opening endlessly onto other worlds.” These practices are about tuning in to your life and your body and paying attention to the here and now. Mindful eating involves becoming aware of and questioning the beliefs and stories that you have. I alluded to this idea a bit in part 2. While the guidelines are useful in and of themselves, its what we learn when practicing them, when resisting them, when sitting with them with ease. THAT is why they can serve as an endless learning cycle. That is where the growth comes and eventually peace.
2. You need support when practicing mindful eating. Find a partner or start a group.
After reading point #1 above you might get a better understanding of why doing this on your own is not setting yourself up for success. You need some one to help you learn and reflect so that you can grow and get through those hard spots. It is hard to do this on your own and make yourself question beliefs or even know what to question. You know how you can clearly see that your friends situation is a hot mess but you can’t figure out your own shit? THAT is why you need an inquiry/mindful eating partner. Geneen does provide a set of book club questions on her website so you could even form a group and learn together.
3. How does this fit in with being a strength athlete?
I don’t know yet. What I can tell you is that so far I have not noticed any effects on my ability to train and make progress. I am more hindered by my askew pelvis than I am by food. I am guessing if competed at a higher level that I might have to make some different considerations around this. I don’t track macros or calories at this point. I do some times drink protein shakes to try and bolster the amount of protein I get during the day even though its not always what my body wants or if I am hungry or not. There might be a time that I need to cut weight to make a weight class (I compete in weightlifting) and I am confident I can do so in a way that is mindful and not crazy making.
4. Will it really take care of my nutritional needs?
I am not a doctor so I can’t answer this from that perspective. I am just a person sharing their experience and thoughts. I believe if you eat what your body wants that you will eventually turn to things that make you feel good and give you fuel to do what you need to do and to enjoy life. While you might think that all you would eat is peanut butter and whipped cream (or is that just me?!?), my guess is that if you are really tuned in to what makes you feel good and what your body really wants that you will end up choosing a variety of foods that help you thrive (which also includes peanut butter and whipped cream!).
5. Can I really learn to trust myself around food?
Yes. A very resounding yes. I know it feels not even possible some times. TRUST ME. I have been there. I have uttered the cry “Oh my! I can’t possibly trust myself around (buttercream frosting, a bowl of m&ms, cake, chocolate, insert choice of food to binge on here).” I hated that I felt so very powerless against food. I NEVER thought I could do some of the things I have done. Sit and savor 1 piece of chocolate and then decide I don’t want more? NO WAY not me! Until it happened. It takes time and a lot of work on deprogramming all the messages you have been fed and repeated to yourself but it can happen. Once you take away the forbidden, food is just food. It can still be special of course and savored and delighted in but that is different than NO! I can’t possibly! I am a bad/lazy/undisciplined person if I eat this.
6. Answer this question: How do you want to live your life?
One of the things that I use as a guide is my answer to that question. The things I wrote down while pondering it: happy, open, free, joyful for just being alive, peace with myself, loving myself, loving EVERY minute of my life.
I decided I wanted peace more than anything….and health of course so that I can live fully as long as possible. I can have those things in my list at any weight. Admittedly, I do still struggle with food and body image – those are pretty deeply engrained patterns in my brain but the practice of mindful eating has allowed for me to have much more peace. I can’t ask for much more than that. The more I practice the better I will get. It takes a lot of effort to look effortless at something. Hating myself, shaming myself, not trusting myself, only brought me suffering and there was no satisfaction with any goal I hit or size I was. I have increased my peace and joy with mindful eating and these guidelines. When I get tempted to find the next diet or the next plan that I NEED to be on to be ok – I come back to this question and my answers and think what do I REALLY want? Peace. Presence. Love for myself, for my friends and family, for my life – every minute of it.