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The boy who cried wolf...
... is the woman who cried diet and we all know what happens to both
I have lost count of the number of times I have said, very publicly, that “this is it, I am getting back on track right now, tomorrow, next week!”, only to flail and fall off the proverbial wagon again. This has to be one of modern society’s most familiar stories, certainly since the diet industry has dug its claws into us.
The boy who cried wolf was eventually eaten by the wolf. The woman who cried diet was eventually eaten by… doubt, discouragement and self-loathing.
So what is the solution if we need to lose weight but want to break free from the diet rollercoaster?
At this point I often get the advice to stop worrying about the weight, love myself as I am and live my life. This advice often comes from well-meaning women who are familiar with the trappings of the diet industry and who’ve either overcome eating disorders or struggled with being a little bit overweight and found freedom by accepting themselves as they are. I do appreciate this advice because I know that it comes from a loving place of wanting to help. Thank you.
However, this advice never comes from other obese women who carry 100+ lbs in excess weight. At that level taking our eyes off the weight feels too dangerous as there are often weight related health issues that cannot be ignored. (But that we struggle to do something about because we’re emotional overeaters and feel, ironically, safe in our emotional eating bubbles.)
Part of what makes this journey so exhausting is feeling like I always have to justify it. Not just to others, to myself as well. I’ve read the HAES and Intuitive Eating books and blogs, I know that jo-jo dieting is harmful and that accepting and loving ourselves as and where we are is the foundation for healing. The latter is important but it’s not the main issue for me, I have done and continue to do a lot of healing in this area.
The problem is that everyone has an opinion and/or agenda when it comes to weight loss and I often get lost somewhere in the middle of it all. Perhaps this is also a Human Design ‘problem’; as a Projector with an undefined sacral center I am like a sponge, absorbing and amplifying all the energies around me, including information, opinions and marketing messages. It’s something I do instinctively and always have. Which is why boundaries are so important yet difficult for me.
As I was mulling this over I realized that I have boundaries in my business that I use to stay on track. I call them my ‘business blinders’ and they work much like horse blinders which block out distractions and keep the horses moving forward. When you run an online business you are surrounded by all kinds of noise, mostly from a toxic hustle culture that is not all that different from the manipulative diet industry. What has really helped me in my business over the years is to ignore the noise of both the outer hustle and the inner critic that tells me I am not good enough. Whenever I feel myself being pulled away by the noise, I literally say: “Business blinders, Kerstin!” and refocus on my own path. I have built a pretty successful business this way.
So why not do the same for my health journey?
I already know what works for me in a way that is healthy and aligned with my personality and lifestyle. I get off track when I am either distracted or don’t feel safe, or both. My sense is that blocking out the distractions will create more space for the work I want to do to feel safe without food or eating.
I want to leave you with a quote from Anna Lovind’s essay that she submitted to a community project I ran a few years ago. She is talking about living a creative life but this can just as easily be applied to any life journey that is important to us:
“The instinctual brain is the oldest, most primitive part of our brain. It’s located at the base of the skull, and it regulates our basic bodily functions and threat-avoiding impulses. Its primary function is to keep us safe. The social and emotional brain is a newer structure, overlaid on top of the instinctual brain, and this is where emotional processing, memory and connection to others happen. The executive brain is the most recently-evolved region of the brain; it is overlaid on top of the emotional brain and it regulates thought and higher function. This is the part of the brain that differentiates us from other species and it grows and develops as we hone particular skill-sets. This is where all our thinking, learning, problem-solving and creating happens.
Each of these systems is integrated into the next one, and what is important for us to know is that the lower structures control access to the upper ones. Each level is a gate to the next. Once our survival is accomplished or restored, the lower brain opens the gate to the midbrain, and once connection and co-operation is accomplished or restored, the midbrain opens access to the upper brain, which then makes creativity, learning and growth possible. But if the lower brain does not perceive our survival as accomplished or restored, it will not open the gates.
It means that in order for the brain to access its full creative capacity, we first need to feel safe, secure and emotionally connected.”
This is deep stuff, right? It has stuck with me ever since I first read it. I have always understood it intellectually, but I long to live it. Wholly and fully.