What you can learn from your 10 year old

Written by Liberty Bain for The True You Project:

My 10 year old started a new school this week. Last week was spent getting everything in order; buying uniforms, supplies and going to orientation. He loves his school bag from last year but wanted it to be monogrammed.  

Before we headed out on our shopping expedition, he showed me a creative design he’d dreamed up for how he wanted his name sewn onto the bag. His name begins with a W and his design included a lightning bolt.

When we arrived at the monogram lady’s shop, she laid the bag out and asked how big he wanted his name and what color thread he desired. At this point he started questioning her to see if she ever did special designs, etc. That’s when Miss Pat, as we got to know her, invited him to pull up a chair in front of her design computer and look through hundreds of possible lightning bolts. From there they perused different stitches and other options for his bag.

Five minutes turned into ten and ten turned into twenty. I got super itchy on the inside, thinking this was taking too long, and I thought about trying to hurry him up.  

I asked myself a question instead: What is it about this process that is triggering me?

I realized I have a tendency to rush through things that are important because I fear ‘taking too long’ will annoy people and I’ll end up feeling rejected.

Letting that old story go began right there in the shop. I chose to watch him live like he belongs and matters, to simply let him be who he was in the moment. I also got to practice getting comfortable with my discomfort.

After settling on the size and shape of the lighting bolt, he spent a full 5 minutes choosing just the right blue thread.  I almost rushed him here too, but watching his process I bit my tongue (again). His presence and trust astounded me. He never flinched about asking for more blue thread options or a bigger lighting bolt, and he didn’t settle for anything that he didn’t really love. Never once did he consider he wouldn’t be able to get what he really wanted. It clearly had not crossed his radar that he needed to hurry or that this was ‘taking too long.’

Observing my son, vulnerably and wholeheartedly, enjoying his next loving step totally inspired me.  He used a basic process that  included asking lots of questions, taking time, and making his best choice.

So I wondered: where can I apply a ten year old’s trusting principle of continuing to ask for what I want and how I want it?? How quickly can I shuck the lie that I need to curb my desires??

First, I need time and space to dream and practice creativity; to come up with my own lightning bolt designs for life.  

Then I want to trust that everything is conspiring to help me ask for what I want to become reality.

Everything might not turn out exactly how I want – but it won’t be because I held back or talked myself out of it because I didn’t want to annoy anyone or make them uncomfortable.

How about you? Where in your life do you need to ask for more!?

What are your unique designs you want to bring to the surface?
Where could you reframe ‘I can’t because…’ into creativity for how you actually could??  
Where is possibility hiding in plain site in your life??

How incredible would it feel to go for it?? Whatever IT is??

If the answers to all these questions feel like way long shots, reach out to me or Kendra for a nourishing session to connect you to your True You. Email us at trueyou.inspire[at]gmail[dot]com

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Grandpa’s Garden

What I don’t want you to know about me is that a lot of times I am driving around my neighborhood and most of South Wales, and all the gray pebbledash (aka stucco) houses stained with diesel smut really gets me down.

I want to see color! Vibrancy! Variety! Wooden cladding with beautiful paint jobs. Nicely decorated front porches and whitewashed fences.

I’m not in Kansas anymore though, and unlike OZ, all I can see is gray.

The part that I don’t want you to know about is that I am starting to resent where I live. I feel stifled. And I judge myself harshly for feeling this way.

‘Grow up. Get a life. Stop judging your surroundings. You should be happy with what you have. Stop being so superficial that you let a bit of dirt and gray get you down.’, my inner critic dutifully chides away.

A couple of months ago I was walking towards the Swansea waterfront for a jog on the beach. The neighborhood I was walking through… let’s just say it could use a facelift. Terraced pebble-dash houses with concrete slabs passing for a garden, bleeding into asphalt pavement (aka sidewalk). No grass. No trees. No sign of life.

Except for one.

One neighbor in the 4 or so blocks I walked was doing life on their own terms. They had created an actual garden in their 10’ x 6’ plot of front yard and humongous tulips were in full bloom, all different colors. You could tell it was cared for.

It was so beautiful, and so starkly different from it’s surroundings, that I stopped and took a picture to capture this memory. Imprint the beauty. Make it last.

grandpas garden

A true testimony to the idea that when you shine your light, you impact others.

Two days ago, I was again going for a jog along the beach, and The Beatles decided to come with me. ‘I am he, as you are he, as you are me, and we are all together’ started running through my head.

I never could really understand the point of this particular song. The Eggman? The Walrus?

But as I fell into a rhythmic pace over the sands of Swansea Bay, it clicked. I didn’t have to be high on LSD to get the point, at least of this first line.

I am he: I want beauty in my life and so does the person who takes the time to make this garden beautiful.

As you are he: If you want beauty in your life, you’re just like him too.

As you are me: Oh cool, we both crave beauty (and both probably winge when it’s lacking).

And we are all together.

So if we’re really all together, than I’ve got some socks to pull up because ‘he’ is clearly doing his part in creating beauty, and all I’m doing is getting more and more depressed the more I don’t see it.

So two days ago I did something different.

Drug-free but high on endorphins from my run, I went to my car, took out a pen and paper, and wrote this neighbor a note of thanks. ‘Thank you for caring enough to make Swansea beautiful.’

I walked over to the garden (this time, huge purple roses in bloom; took my breath away so much I forgot to take a picture). I was going to leave my note in the mailbox but heard voices on the other side of the door, and sure enough an elderly man opened the door as he was was about to go walk his dog.

I thanked him for creating a beautiful garden.

He had no clue what this Crazy American was on about.

But he proudly told me about the days where he would get up every morning, walk over to the university, tend to the gardens there, and then pick up his grandkids from school.

I still don’t know who the Eggman is. Or the Walrus.

But lesson #1 from the Beatles I now know: People around us can teach us about, and heal, our soul cravings.

I crave beauty. I need it in my life. I know this because when I see someone else create beauty, I am attracted to it.

And now I am challenged to create it. Because I am he. And if this grandpa can conjure up some beauty, then so can I.

Whether it’s by planting flowers, cutting my grass, painting my nails, or writing a note of gratitude…

I get to choose. I get to let the light bouncing off my soul cravings, light up others around me.

Lesson #2 from the Beatles: I am he, and you are he, and you are me, and we are altogether… works not only with beauty, but with all the crap in life too. Our suffering is the same.

As different as we might think we are from those around us who suffer, we are not.

We are in this together. We create beauty together, we suffer together, we heal together.

Perhaps that’s the Eggman. The Walrus. I think I am so different… I mean, heck, I don’t have a bald head or tusks. I’m not a retired grandpa who maintains his horticultural hobbies.

But inside we’re all the same. So when you come across someone who is suffering, remember that their suffering is yours too.

Thursday happened to be the first ever World Eating Disorder Action Day, which makes this Eggman and Walrus concept even more profound. At the crux of an eating disorder you’ve got a massive loss of identity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the person sitting across from me say, ‘I don’t know who I am anymore’.

So if that is the suffering of someone with an eating disorder, all the more reason for the rest of us to shine our light so that they’ve got a chance to find themselves through the light they are attracted to. Just like grandpa’s garden reminded me of my soul craving for beauty, and experiencing it healed a part of me.

I have no idea what grandpa saw in me other than that Crazy American, but I would like to think that somehow in helping me heal my suffering, some of his was healed too. Maybe he felt alone, unappreciated, forgotten and someone noticing his soul creation gave him some hope or something. Who knows.

But I do know that sometimes I feel alone, unappreciated, forgotten.

So maybe our suffering is the same. Maybe your suffering is the same. Maybe we can heal it all together.

#BOAW16: What Naked Female Bodies taught me about Beauty

Naked Female Bodies. Probably the most competitive arena in the Western world. So much so it might as well be an Olympic Sport. At least then the standards would be objective and not left up to the eyes of the beholder, forever wondering if this body is ‘good enough’.

Our bodies are either too fat, too thin, too soft, too hard, too round, too flat, too tall, too short. We’ve adopted the Goldilocks syndrome, except we can never find the resting place of, our body, or her body, is ‘just right’.

I am guilty of being Goldilocks. For years I judged every pair of legs, arms, abs, and cheeks (both pairs) that passed me by. And as with all forms of judgement, I was my own worst critic. Displacing my judgement on to her body was easier than accepting my own frailty and flaws.

When I was 18, I was exposed to more naked female flesh than I bargained for. The locker rooms in my university had showers that were reminiscent of Auschwitz. One big, square, stark, concrete room; empty except for shower heads peeking out from the walls. No cubicles, curtains, or any gesture of privacy.

And so after track practice, I’d be butt and breast naked with at least 10 other women as we washed off that day’s sweat and grime.

A perfect opportunity for the dissatisfied Goldilocks in me to take over. Her legs aren’t cut enough. Her bum isn’t round enough. Her thighs aren’t toned enough. Her breasts aren’t firm enough.

I was always comparing each body to some idealistic vision of what a woman’s naked body should look like.

The reality: no one in that room made the cut. Least of all myself. Because none of us had cracked the code of how to surpass the unreachable standard of perfection.

For years I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes about what a woman’s beauty is; caught in the harsh cycle of comparison, judgement, shame; resulting in trying to hide my own flaws and compensate, in order to meet aesthetic standards.

Here’s what I know now, that I wish I knew then.

Aesthetic beauty is not uniform.

Aesthetic beauty is not the defining factor of a woman’s beauty.

A vivid memory I have from those locker room days was noticing the variety in breasts, nipples, and pubic structure. In the first 18 years of my life, the only naked female body I was familiar with was my own, and I naively thought that all breasts and vaginas were created equal.

Equal? Yes. Identical? No.

Why this was a shock to me, I’m not too sure. Clearly our eyes, noses, and ears were all different. Why wouldn’t the most intimate parts of our bodies be different too?

While this was news to me, I didn’t understand the symbolism of this fact until more recently. I was too busy looking for similarity, conformity, and sameness, missing the point those naked bodies were trying to tell me.

No one body has a monopoly on beauty. Beauty is variety.

No two bodies have identical features (OK, except for twins), even down to our most intimate parts which are usually hidden from sight.

When we are clothed, we hide our differences. It is in our nakedness, that we see our uniqueness.

And while one body may have individual features that can be labeled attractive, or pleasing to the eye, it is the collective, the combination that is beautiful.

Consider a painting. A canvas that is painted solid purple may be nice to look at, a pretty color. But it isn’t until the blue, green, pink, red and yellow are splashed on and accentuate each other, that you have something beautiful.

And so it is with the beauty of a woman. To think that you or I alone define beauty, destroys its essence. Alone, you and I can be pretty, nice to look at, and yes, carry pieces of beauty.

But, it is in standing naked next to another that is beautiful.

It is in our differences, our variety, the fact that no two of us have the same exact same shape, size or coloring, that we create the beauty.

And while this stands true aesthetically, our beauty extends beyond our physical.

Last week I made a comment in The Nourish Circle, reflecting on the experience of coming together for a group call the day before. I wrote, “The vulnerability and shared wisdom that each of us brings is beautiful.”

Hmmmm…. That has nothing to do with how hard, soft, round, flat, tall or short we are.

It was the sharing from the heart, letting others in on the secret heartaches and joys of our souls that was beautiful. Getting emotionally and spiritually naked with each other.

That was beautiful.

And just as in our physical self, while we each have a similar make up and can relate to much of each other’s stories and experiences, no two of our souls are identical.

We are individual, yet the sharing of our individuality and differences creates connectedness, relatability, and no longer are we alone. Like a single strand of a spider web, each strand serves a purpose, and once connected, you have a work of art.

And just like a spider web, where one strand on it’s own can easily be broken but a web can carry an immense amount of weight, keeping one’s ‘weaknesses’ to oneself will break you, but sharing them generates strength.

The beauty of sharing the intimate corners of our hearts, the parts of ourselves that we usually keep close, covered up and clothed, because showing those parts would be too embarrassing, shameful, or inappropriate, is something that I now crave and seek out.

Although at the time of the naked showers, I allowed myself to be physically seen, I kept my emotional and spiritual self, buttoned up and buried deep. And I too, broke.

I could not see that my differences, my so-called flaws, both physically and emotionally, contributed to a collective beauty. And so I fought to change myself and my body. So much so, it led to an eating disorder.

It is only now, through my healing that I can see what I missed. That our beauty, and strength, comes from our differences, ‘weaknesses’, and surrender.

Ah, the Surrender.

For years I thought that I knew better than my body. That I could mold, sculpt, and whip it into shape. Turn it into a machine.

Except it already was a machine. I just didn’t understand how it works.

Within our naked bodies lives wisdom that lays dormant until ignited.

The key that turns the ignition? Surrender. Not Control, as I naively believed.

Surrender and trust, that the same body that pumps blood, creates a baby, and gives and receives pleasure, without having to micro-manage it’s every move, also knows what we need to emotionally and spiritually survive, create, and freely give and receive.

When your body is aching for a run, go for a run. When it is knackered beyond belief, sit still and rest.

When something inside of you craves a catch up with your best friend that you haven’t spoken to in months, a book that you’ve just heard about, a visit to certain part of the world, a good wail and a cry…

Listen to that craving.

Chances are there is something waiting for you. Something that you are ready to learn, a door or window ready to be opened, a gift.

Your body knows where you need to go and what you need to do before you do.

But it won’t tell you if you can’t see it’s beauty.

When you are judging, controlling, and disconnecting from your body, it goes silent.

Instead, we have to be grateful for how it functions, regardless of it’s shape, size, or shade.

We have to care for it, as we would any machine.

And we have to listen to what we are sensing, feeling, and hearing, even when it doesn’t make 100% sense and we can’t be certain of the outcome.

By learning how to relate to our bodies in this way, we learn how to relate to the world.

When we learn to love and surrender…. That, my friends, is beautiful.

So here’s what I finally realized was staring right at me all those times in the shower:

When our hearts are filled with love and surrender, and we stand naked next to another,  exposing our differences and ‘weaknesses’…

that is the beauty of  a woman.


Thanks to August McLaughlin for inspiring and inviting this post. For more Beauty of a Woman blog posts and a chance to win prizes, visit www.augustmclaughlin.com/beauty-woman-blogfest-v/.

To join a group of open-hearted women sharing their vulnerabile beauty with each other, visit www.thetrueyouproject.com/nourish.

#bu29days: Day 16: It’s OK to play with your food

aka You said, let go of the Food Rules book. Why would I want to do that?

aka Why do you eat standing up? I thought you’re supposed to eat sitting down?

It’s simple. Sometimes I eat standing up because I’ve been sitting down for a few hours and when I take a break to have something to eat, my body would rather by standing than sitting. 

Gasp!!!!

‘But is says in the book, ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’, that one of the reasons they don’t get fat is because they always eat sitting down. Aren’t you afraid you’re going to get fat?!’

No.

Standing up while eating doesn’t make you fat. It doesn’t even automatically make you eat more.

The reason why French women don’t get fat, in my book anyway, is because they are very present with their food when they are eating.

Get this, you can be present with your food whether or not you’re standing up or sitting down.

I will say this though. When I used to binge, it was often a stand-up binge. It somehow felt more transient, like it would be over faster, and less of a reality… as if it wasn’t really happening because I wasn’t purposefully sitting down. If I was standing in front of the fridge with the door open while eating, or walking back and forth between the kitchen and living room, it was as if I would have more of a chance at stopping.

So, as part of getting out of that cycle, it can be very helpful to make a choice such as, ‘I will only eat sitting down’, if that helps create a new healthy habit.

However, that new healthy habit can just as easily take hold over you and freak you out.

I got a phone call from a woman who was worried she was forming bad food habits because she was tasting food while she was preparing food for her toddler daughter. She had struggled with anorexia, and as part of her recovery, had learned to portion out her food and eat while sitting down.

And here she was 4 years later, grazing and eating while standing!  She was driving herself nuts, throwing her head into a spin, and dove straight back into the grips of the good/bad mentality. Was this binging? Was she relapsing? Was it ok to taste test food while cooking it?

What about eating bits of food while encouraging your toddler to eat and then sitting down for an ‘adult’ meal afterwards? It’s like eating two meals one right after the other! Is that allowed?

We talked this through and she realized, the reason she was tasting the food was because

  1. it looked yummy and she wanted some
  2. she wanted to make sure it tasted nice before feeding it to her family.
  3. she was eating with her child to help facilitate her child’s eating
  4. she still felt hungry so she’d feed herself

Is there anything wrong with that?

In my opinion, no. 

It was helpful for her to get clear on what she actually wanted:

  1. Make sure the food tasted good for her family.
  2. Enjoy the time with her daughter as she was growing into a new stage of life.
  3. Have quality time with her husband.
  4. Enjoy food.

We talked about the idea that some days, that might be eating with her daughter and her husband one right after the other. And other nights, maybe she is hungry early and so has a fuller meal with her daughter, and then enjoys a glass of wine sans food with her husband.

Getting clear on desires and intention helped her to navigate herself out of the spin she was throwing herself into in trying to follow the rules.

Personally, I’d rather play with my food, have the freedom to do what feels right at the time and suits my lifestyle, than be worried about ‘doing it right’ and feeling guilty afterwards when it goes potentially ‘wrong’.

Rules can definitely help, usually for a season. Getting clear on what you want will guide you for a lifetime.

So that is why sometimes you’ll see me eating while standing up.

I have a favourite spot by a south-facing window and my lemon tree. On a sunny day, I can transport myself to the Amalfi Coast when I am standing there. I love preparing a plate of food, and then enjoy it while standing and sunbathing, staring out the window, watching the world go by.

You’ll also see me grazing while I prepare dinner. Bite off the end of the carrot, munch on a celery stick and throw the other half in the soup. It’s fun for me.

My absolute favourite: I LOVE buying an ice cream cone, fresh and homemade ice cream please, and then lazily walk down the street, or along the beach, with it dripping over my hand as I lick the sides and end up with it all over my face. It’s the only way I’ll eat an ice cream cone: while standing up.

In fact, when we were travelling and we’d stop for ice cream, I’d boycott if I wasn’t able to eat it while standing up. Going back in the car and eating it while driving just didn’t do it for me. I’d rather go without.

I suppose you could say this is a food rule: ‘I won’t eat an ice cream cone sitting down.’ and ‘I won’t eat a packaged ice cream bar when I have the choice of freshly made scoops.’

As I mentioned yesterday, I’d rather give myself the full 10 of pleasure and enjoyment, than only meet it halfway and still be craving more. Because the craving isn’t actually for the food, it’s for the experience.

And this is why French women don’t get fat, because when they are eating: they are creating an experience with their food. It gives them Pleasure! It’s less about the food and more about the sensory stimulation throughout the meal.

More of that please!

Which leaves my food rule book empty except for these two questions:

  • What do you want right now?
  • Why do you want it?

As long as my ‘why’ isn’t to mask some emotion; stress, boredom, nerves, vulnerability, frustration, etc, then I’m OK with giving myself what I want.

Sometimes that is a green smoothie for breakfast. Sometimes it’s no breakfast. Sometimes it’s eggs on toast.

Sometimes it’s sitting down with a knife and fork to eat a gorgeous salad for lunch. Sometimes it’s having cheese and crackers by the window.

Sometimes it’s a really nice homemade dinner of roasted veg, steak or lamb, and garlic & rosemary roasted potatoes. Sometimes it’s a more playful meal of homemade crispy squid (deep fried in oil), smoked paprika swede or sweet potato chips, and a Jamie Oliver inspired yogurt dip. Sometimes it’s take out from the curry house, or pizza from the shop.

Sometimes I share a plate of dates and walnuts and dark chocolate with my husband while watching our Amazon Prime show of the week. Or we make popcorn, or ice cream on crumble (I will eat it as an accent :)), or a couple of biscuits from the shop.

And, sacrilege, sometimes my stomach is rumbling at 10:30 or 11pm before I go to bed, and I eat a handful of nuts or dried apricots within 10 minutes of climbing into bed.

As opposed to rules, I suppose you could say I’ve adopted guidelines for the playground. Signposts to reflect my core values, my quintessential self. These include things like:

  • Know what is in the food so that I know what I’m giving my body. I value real food. Which has led me to expand my cooking horizons; making bread, granola bars, and chicken stock from scratch. You’d be surprised at how much cleaner your poo is when you eat natural ingredients.
  • Treat myself. I value variety and nice things. When eating out, I’ll order the meal and dessert that sounds amazing and I probably would botch at home.
  • Listen to any cravings. I value my desires, whether one of the soul or stomach. These don’t have to be intense, all-consuming cravings, but if I feel like having a piece of chocolate in the middle of the day, I’ll listen to it. Why fight it? 
  • Make space for connection. I value connection and beauty. At dinnertime, I’ll clear the table of any work related clutter so I can focus on my husband and our conversation in a beautiful space. When there is a real connection with someone while eating, the food adds to an already great experience.

It boils down to two things: Is this nourishing? Will this give me pleasure?

Recently I noticed that I am still carrying a fear that was showing up with food.

The fear of ‘running out’. Whether this is of running out of an ingredient in the cupboard, or food on the table, or money in the bank, or creative ideas, or energy with clients, this fear was pervasive across the board.

A great example of, how you do anything is how you do everything.

I realized it first with food. I noticed I’ve been skimping on using the full measurement of certain ingredients that were more expensive or harder to find, or that I somehow thought of as ‘special’ or pleasurable. Like raw cacao powder, or coconut oil, or butter, or even just a normal spice if we were getting close to the bottom.

I’d try to hold on to what we had and deprive myself of some of the pleasure the ingredient brought to the recipe. As opposed to believing and trusting that there is more where that came from, and receive it fully.

The idea of a never ending flow of abundance or love is a new one I am still wrapping my head around.

So now a couple new guidelines are:

  • Slow down. I’m learning to value each moment for what it is without worrying about tomorrow. Chew more slowly so that I am enjoying each bite instead of racing to finish in time to have seconds before they run out.
  • Use the full amount. I’m learning to value my worth and the art of receiving. Let myself experience the full amount of flavour and pleasure that the recipe calls for, just because I can and I’m worth it.

What I love about this, is that playtime now extends beyond food.

As part of healing my relationship with food; ditching the good vs bad, the can vs can’t’s, I’ve opened a door to another 3rd option: playfully and lovingly creating what I want.


 

Something to think about: What’s your take on rules? How do they serve you? What are some rules that aren’t serving you anymore? What parallels can you draw between your relationship with food and other areas of your life? What is a desire, intention, or value of yours that you want to start listening to?

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting soon. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are, and get connected to your core values. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 15: What’s Love got to do with Food?

aka How you do anything is how you do everything. 

aka Why didn’t willpower work?

Let me ask you this? Have you ever tried sticking to a diet before? How’d that work out for ya?

Dieting takes willpower. And in my experience it doesn’t work.

I’ve tried a number of them.

The South Beach Diet, the Leek Soup diet from ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’. I’ve tried eating only Superfoods.

They lasted from all of 2 hours (the leek soup was so boring and bland I ended up binging a few hours later) to maybe 2 weeks of eating cottage cheese and pineapple for lunch.

The problem with diets, is that you very rarely get to give yourself what you really want. It’s a condoned form of Deprivation.

When your desires are parked over there… with chocolate cake, burgers and fries, and buttered bagels… and all you’re giving yourself is cottage cheese and leeks, you are left wanting.

It’s a simple equation.

-10 +1 = -9  = still in lack

-10 + 10 = 0 = whole = complete = satisfied

I tried the different diets and restrictive eating in the years I was still purging. I was desperate for a solution and it was worth a shot.

The irony is, that what actually led to healing my relationship with food, was the complete opposite of your typical diet.

I had to let myself eat everything.

I know, you’re like, ‘Woah!’ Everything? Including Twinkies? And Pork Scratchings? And those really nasty cheese twists with E number whatever yellow and orange coloring and flavouring?

Yes. Everything.

Not only does that sound unhealthy, and slightly indulgent, I too can see the potential danger in opening up the floodgates for someone who A, loves food and B, was having some ‘slight’ problems controlling herself around food.

Here’s the thing though, until I gave myself permission to have whatever I wanted, this was my mentality:

  • I can’t have xyz.
  • I feel guilty if I do.
  • But xyz looks so good!
  • Stop thinking it looks good, it’s bad for you. It’s going to make you fat and you’ll binge (and maybe purge).

To break that down, you have control, guilt, the push-pull theory, fear, beratement, and distrust all in one.

I don’t see no Love.

And that’s because there wasn’t any.

When your relationship to food is built on that good vs bad lens, can and can’t, deprive and punish, fear and distrust…

the outcome isn’t going to be very loving, and it’s not going to work in the end.

Think about this, if that mentality was brought into a real relationship, say with your partner, or your kids, how would that turn out?

Disaster. Trust me, I know from personal experience.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, how we do anything is how we do everything.

We have to bring Love into our relationship with Food.

And if we can do that, guess what, bonus! It will bleed into all other areas of our life too.

So instead of good vs bad, what’s the 3rd option?

  • I am allowed to have whatever I want, when I want it.
  • I get to choose what I want in the moment.
  • The food itself isn’t actually good or bad.

An experience of freedom, expansiveness, abundance, respect, choice trust, empowerment, truth, and dare I say Love.

I’m pulling up yesterday’s definition of Love. Let’s test it out in this scenario, just for kicks.

  • Love is surrendering to the idea that you don’t have to have it all together. Surrender to the idea that you have to ‘get it right’ with food all the time. Maybe you’ll eat more than you really want at first, that’s OK. Babies fall when they are learning to walk. Adults can fall when we’re learning to eat (and live) again.
  • Love is giving yourself what you want. As in, the largest, gooiest, piece of chocolate cake on the table, if that is what you really want.
  • Love is receiving what you want. As in, don’t be thinking about how you’ll only have shakes tomorrow, or you’ll burn it off at the gym. Enjoy every single bite of it right there and then. Tomorrow you can decide what you really want for tomorrow.
  • Love is accepting your birthright to receive love. As in, stop depriving yourself of what you really want.
  • Love is engaging with beauty. Food is beautiful. It is colorful, smells amazing, tantalizes your tastebuds. And it nourishes you. Play with it.
  • Love is finding courage to face fears. Including the fear that the chocolate, or the bread, or the burger, is going to make you fat. Or that the sugar or the gluten is going to ruin your health*.
  • Love is being vulnerable. It means getting really honest with yourself about your weak spots. This doesn’t mean that you are weak. Admitting where you are is strength. Hiding from reality, not so much.
  • Love is speaking your truth. Who knows what yours is. Mine was, ‘I love food!’, something that I had been ashamed to say for years, considering how I had treated it.
  • Love invites in. It creates connection. Include others in the conversation about your relationship to food, body, and self.
  • Love does not judge. Including, ‘thou shall not judge the cheese on the pizza, or the grease on the french fries.’
  • Love does not condemn. Including the cheese, the grease, the fat, the sugar, the gluten, the white rice*.
  • Love is gentle. You don’t have to get it right on day one. We’ve got loads of time to play here!
  • Love accepts what is in the moment. I am trying this today and will see how it goes. Tomorrow is another day.
  • Love forgives, even yourself. Even when you fall back into fear and the deprive/indulge or control/release mode.
  • Love says come as you are. However many pounds of you, whatever size clothes, whatever health issues, no matter how ‘anorexic’ or ‘bulimic’, or ‘compulsive’ or ‘undiagnosable’ you are. Labels don’t matter to love.
  • Love says you are worthy. You are worthy of living freely with food, your body and yourself. You are worthy of the pleasure and joy and nourishment that food and this world offers you.
  • Love says it’s OK to let go of what you’re holding on to; I will catch you. It’s OK to drop the ‘Food Rules’ book (and dare I say ‘Life Rules’ book?)
  • Love says you don’t have to have it all figured out today. One step at a time works just fine.
  • Love speaks to you like you would a friend. You’d let your friend eat the cake without staring at her belly rolls and thinking, ‘How could she eat that when she looks like that?’. Right?
  • Love doesn’t give up. It cheers you on to keep going and find what works for you.
  • Love never fails. You will get there in the end.

I didn’t consciously know what I was doing at the time, but I started adopting this philosophy. I started to let myself have foods that had previously been forbidden; Cheese on pizza, red meat, salami, candy.

I started to explore more. What do scrambled eggs actually taste like? Do I like them?

I let myself have the ‘binge’ foods, like chocolate or ice cream, in broad daylight, without judging how many I had.

I started putting butter on bagels instead of eating them plain. And not in just any old way. I cut the bagel in half, spread the butter on, and then broiled it under the grill, just like we used to have as kids.

I started to find out what I wanted, listen to that, and give it to myself.

I began to heal.

*Note re: gluten and sugar: ?  I realize that a lot of food allergies and autoimmune conditions exist where it would be harmful to your body to eat certain foods eg gluten, sugar, etc. There is still an opportunity to bring love into the relationship. eg instead of the mentality that gluten or sugar is ‘bad’, what would love say? Probably something like this: ‘I want to take care of my body as best I can, and I’m committed to healing. Right now I am choosing to limit my sugar and gluten intake because that is what’s best for my body.’ Now you’re making a choice in line with your wants and desires, without fear, deprivation, or guilt.


Something to think about: Fear and love can’t co-exist. What are you afraid to let go of?How can you bring love into your relationship to food, and your life?

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting soon. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are, and see if this could be your next life raft. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 10: How to make the dance easy

aka When did you start purging?

aka Why do UK toilets suck?

Going into my junior year of college, I was still only dabbling with binges. Nothing too extreme that a run and a workout at the gym couldn’t take care of.

But it still wasn’t solving the problem. I still wasn’t able to fully enjoy the foods that treated my taste buds, and ultimately, I still wasn’t enjoying life as I wanted to.

I had gotten dumped by another guy. I had a well-paid internship at a bank in Manhattan over the summer, and as much as I thought it was a dream come true, I wasn’t convinced it was a career path for me, but I didn’t know what else to go after. Especially since ‘Personal Trainer’ didn’t really seem appropriate after spending all the money, time, and effort that went into an Ivy League education.

I was also gearing up for a Spring semester study abroad program in the UK, so my Fall semester felt very transient. And my performance in cross-country wasn’t improving as exponentially as I had hoped for.

That two punch hit of shame and vulnerability was showing up in more than one place.

So, sitting in my room, one weekday evening, when that pit in my stomach got the point of unbearable, I recalled a lecture from my Psychology of Adolescents class that talked about an option to get rid of your food after you ate. And so I tried it.

And it worked.

I could eat loads. Feel full. Relieve the tension.

I could then vomit everything back up and it was as if the binge never happened.

Calories consumed – Calories expunged = Zero

The Fear of Fat taken care of.

I did this once, maybe twice that semester.

The binging became more frequent and of larger quantities though. I guess once I knew I had a solution to deal with the consequences of extra calories, I felt I could take bigger risks.

What I had now idea about then, that I realize now, is that the binges were definitely happening when I was feeling vulnerable.

On a plane home from Miami, after saying goodbye to a guy I just started dating and wouldn’t see for 5 months while I was in the UK, I plowed through a container of chocolate covered almonds that he had given me. I still have the glass container and use it a vase. It fits about 250g of nuts in it (I just measured.) I ate over half in one go, about 5-6 times more than a normal serving of nuts or chocolate. 

One of the first nights after arriving at the UK University, I binged on the stash of Power Bars that I had brought with me. They were my running food staple at the time. I think I finished off at least half of the chocolate and peanut butter ones. I remember feeling so alone. And cold. The room was cold, the furniture stark, the curtains and carpet were old and dreary. I also was aware that as I was eating the Power Bars, they tasted like cardboard. I was craving the pleasurable flavors of chocolate and peanut butter, but they weren’t there. I kept eating more in the hopes that the next bite would do the trick.

The food in the university’s cafeteria was horrible, as were the lunch ladies that portioned out your food. There was no pleasure in eating, so I started to buy my own groceries. I remember going up and down the aisle of Tesco’s and everything was unfamiliar. I bought a jar of mincemeat because that looked healthy enough but tasty. I binged on uncooked mincemeat and Hovis white bread. Both are disgusting by the way. They put these solid bits of lard in the mincemeat. I remember trying to pick around the white bits so I didn’t eat the fat.

A couple of weeks or so after arriving in the UK, I received a care package from my aunt and uncle filled with American snacks and goodies. I am ashamed to say, I binged through at least 50% of it. I had to keep some of it intact to share with the friends I was making so they didn’t find out my secret.

I tried purging, but it was harder in the UK. I couldn’t hide the vomit in a plastic bag in my garbage can because it was only emptied once a week when the dormitory cleaners came. My options were toilet or shower.

This is how I learned that UK toilets suck. Actually, technically, they don’t suck. That’s the problem. You gotta flush over and over and over, one right one right after another, in order to create enough force for the water to go down.

Purging in the toilet was not an option.

I tried the shower, but didn’t really think about the bits of rice and peas that might get stuck in the drain. That was definitely gross.

Once I knew that the logistics of purging were difficult, I tried to control the binges. This kind of made things worse. I’d wake up full, stuffed, lethargic, depressed. I’d say to myself, ‘right, today’s going to be different’. I’d haul myself to lectures, have a granola bar or flapjack for lunch, meet up with the track team for practice, which just wasn’t the same vibe as I was used to, have a dismal dinner in the dining hall, and then face the night.

I’d try really hard to not binge, but when that is all you’re thinking about, inevitably you do.

Luckily I only had to get through March because the month of April we broke up for Spring break and I went backpacking around Europe with some other study-abroaders. There was no need for a binge while in Italy, Spain, Switzerland and France.

Why? Because I was happy.

Funny how that works.

 

Writing this I realize what I was really craving:

Pleasure. Beauty. Comfort. Connection.

Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of positive memories and I developed friendships that I maintained well beyond my time there, some to this day. But the presence of vulnerability and the absence of those first three really shook me.

When I was travelling however, I felt like a completely new person. I felt free. Everything was a sensory adventure. And I was on this adventure with other like-minded souls.

What comes to me here is the importance of a tribe. When you’re in a tribe, you are connected by heritage and you automatically belong. The parts of you that in other places might feel shameful, are accepted here.

Since belonging is a given, it’s super easy to be your quintessential self because that question of, ‘what will they think of me?’ isn’t there anymore. There isn’t much fear.

When you’re freely living as your quintessential self, without shame and fear, vulnerability isn’t so uncomfortable. The dance becomes easy.

And when you and your tribe are surrounding yourselves and beauty, pleasure, excitement and newness every day; when you are living fully, there really isn’t a reason to binge or purge anymore.

Something to think about: What does living fully mean to you? When have experienced this? Do you notice any chances in your relationship to food, body and self during these times?

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting.Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are and receive support for your own dance with vulnerability. Join us this February.