And you thought I would start The ABC’s of T with the letter A. Silly you 😘 That was my initial intent, but my mind does not flow in a linear pattern so I’m going to approach The ABC’s of T the same way. Letters will pop up in whatever random manner they speak to me. The rest may follow the conventional ABC structure (or not), but we are kicking this thing off with the letter L for Love, because Love makes the world go around. It holds us up when we are down. It helps us soar to higher heights we we are already soaring. Sometimes it breaks our hearts. Other times it helps us heal from a broken heart. It has played the biggest role in my recovery from processed food addiction. Read on…
You might be surprised to learn that one of the the key factors to my being able to lose weight and find health has very little to do with nutrition or exercise. Learning to love myself and treat myself with kindness has done more for me than any meal plan or exercise class did. My mentor and friend, John Pierre, has often said, “When you love yourself, you don’t hurt yourself.”
Many of you who have known me my whole life probably don’t have a full understanding of what I mean when I say that I spent years not liking myself very much. I thought how I felt about myself was just normal–and it may well be–but I will give you a little insight into what I mean when I say that I didn’t love myself. Ever since I was a little girl, I have expected a lot from myself. I strove to do well academically. I always tried hard to be good at sports and later in life, good at my jobs. Those are actually good things. Its good to have high standards and expect a lot of yourself. However, I think it set me up, along with my particular personality, to be hyper critical of myself in almost every situation. This eventually developed into me having a 24-hour-a-day tape of negative thoughts running through my mind. Thousands of thoughts a day where I was telling myself things like, “I suck!” “I’m so stupid.” “What I want (or need, or think, or do) doesn’t matter.” And these are the most mild of the unkind things that I thought and said to myself every day. And often, I would be sure to point these things out to others, before they had a chance to find it out for themselves–just to make sure they knew I didn’t think I was all that and a bag of chips. I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t realize how harmful this pattern was and how it was impacting so many things in my life including my physical health and well-being.
Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can tear your heart apart. My use of unkind words toward myself broke me down, little by little. The less that I liked myself–the more I believed the things I was telling myself–the more likely I was to do things that were harmful for me and the less likely I was to do things that were loving and kind. I know that there are many out there who don’t believe in emotional eating. I don’t know if emotional eating is the right term for it, but I certainly “used” food as a means of momentary escape. When I had a particularly vicious day of self-flagellation, I would often compensate for my misery with a full sleeve or Oreo’s, a 44 oz diet Coke alongside a chocolate chocolate chip muffin, or a giant brick of cheese melted over an entire bag of tortilla chips. Sometimes all of the above. And for just a moment, while I was in the throws of eating all of that salty, oily, sugary, (and I’m sorry for the graphic terms) puss-laden and chemical-laced “treats,” I would feel better. Only to find myself even more unhappy with myself and disgusted by my choices–which just led to more negative self-talk and unkind treatment of myself. It was a vicious cycle.
On August 31, 2018, I committed to following the principles of the Ultimate Weight Loss (UWL) program and made the commitment to hire John Pierre (JP) to coach me through at least the first three months of that process. JP’s is known for his work with celebrities and athletes. He is known for his work in the geriatric community and his relentless advocacy for women’s rights and animal rights–being a voice for the voiceless. He is the nutrition and fitness guy. He will always be to me The Kindness Whisperer. Yes….we worked on nutrition. We worked on fitness. But more than anything we worked on undoing three decades or more of harmful words and abusive actions towards myself. And just as I type this I realize that I’ve been in an abusive relationship for three decades. An abusive relationship with myself.
So….am I perfect? No. Not by a long shot. I have, however, quieted the unkind tapes in my head and slowed them down to practically nothing. Now, instead of beating myself up when I don’t quite meet my standards, I have tools that help me see the good in the situation and keep me on a path that allows me to be more compassionate with myself. And one of the best things about that is that when I’m kind and loving towards myself, I have more light and love to share with others.
Learning to be kinder and more loving towards myself, and seeing how those things impact my ability to be my best self — physically, emotionally, spiritually — has been the most important factor in my weight loss, and in my life. I learned to be kinder to myself gradually. Gratitude has been a very important tool in changing the negative thought in my mind. Learning to dissect my thoughts and ascertain whether or not they were true and take action to either correct things if they were true or reframe them if they were not has helped me so much. Learning to be comfortable with my feelings—whatever they are—has helped immensely. I hope as time goes on I can take the time to go into each one of these tools and explore with you how they have helped me move to a place where I have more compassion for myself.
I recently completed the Mastery course for Chef AJ and John Pierre’s UWL Program. Our last module was on Love and Compassion. JP did our Saturday Live lecture and I really loved an analogy he used. He showed us a lemon and talked about how we are like that lemon. When the lemon gets squeezed, lemon juice comes out. Likewise, when we get squeezed (by stress, disappointment, or even excitement) what we have inside is what will come out. When the lemon gets squeezed, we don’t get orange juice or lime juice or almond milk—unless those items were somehow injected into the lemon. We get lemon juice. Likewise, if we are angry, or jealous, or spiteful—or happy, or kind, or loving, when hard times come or when something happens that “squeezes” us, we respond with what is inside of us. That is why it is so important for us to cultivate light and love until they simply become who we are.
I challenge each of you to really take an inventory of the things that you say to yourself, how you treat yourself, and assess whether or not there is room for improvement. Before you eat the decadent meal or miss the workout, ask yourself if doing that is going to be helpful or harmful to you. If you love yourself, you won’t hurt yourself. And you are worth loving!