Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Let it love what it loves

Me? I'm a comfort eater. No diet that ever worked on the basis it could make you feel full and thus stop you eating between meals would ever have worked for me because I had no interest in whether or not I was hungry, I just kept eating. Eating fatty, sweet, stodgy food that would sedate me. And I could eat a lot of it. Inheriting a tall, beanpole body from my father meant for some time I could carry the weight this eating brought. Passing as 'statuesque' and only occasionally crossing the line into 'fat'. So I fooled myself it was okay. That I could get away with it. That clearly I didn't have an issue because hey, I could still squeeze into a size 12-14. Just about. And for many people, a UK size 12-14 would mean that they were in their very best shape. But that doesn't apply to a person whose natural shape resembles a spider.

I became aware of the concept of comfort eating decades ago, no doubt through my regular afternoon dates with Oprah, and I understood immediately. Did nothing about it, mind. Just understood a bit more. As I began to really do some work on my thinking and beliefs during my 40s it was an interest that, like my middle-aged waistline, expanded. I started to question why I ate the way I did. Exactly what pain was I deadening? What issues wasn't I dealing with? And I simply couldn't line anything up. Sure I have plenty of mental/emotional issues to choose from, who doesn't? But really none of them manifested as a desire for cake or cheese. (Cheese was the Big Tranquiliser Gun. A cheese sandwich could literally put me to sleep within 15 minutes. Snoring.) I'm hideously analytical and love to examine my navel; I wasn't avoiding anything. So my examination of my comfort eating would fade away and I'd carry onto something else.

Which brings me to now.

I had planned to eat very healthily for a couple of months and then maybe scope out the gym again once I felt a bit better. Or maybe a yoga class. Maybe even (whispers) Zumba. It was a mid-term goal/option. A week after I started eating 100% plant-based and 70% raw I pretty much had to start running. Or I'd've gone mental. Sure, my muscles were are wasted and it's a struggle to do even tiny amounts but my head, my spirit and yes my body needed to move. I still didn't join the dots. Then today I found myself marvelling that I don't want that old comfort food anymore. I know it's delicious and lovely and it really is, but..well...just, no thanks. And then it clicked. I had been sedating something. I had been suppressing deep discomfort. I was (un)dealing with an issue. But it wasn't mental or emotional, at least in the first instance. It was physical. My body needs to move. It needs to change its place on the ground, in the air, in a room. It yearns for the freedom and joy of movement. But I didn't have time to indulge it - I had a car to drive, a desk job to do, a movie to watch, a book to read. And guess what, those activities are all the ones where I ate the most. Just, it transpires, to allow me to sit the f*** still. I was also struck by the Lightning Bolt of Dur that suggested perhaps the reason I mentally flit about like a lunatic and stick at nothing is because, thwarted of physical movement, I constantly moved myself in other ways. Enforced change where I could, not where I should.

I actually just had to stop typing and give my poor body a hug at that point. Ha.

I'm not hyperactive. I can be positively slothful; when I really want to. It's lovely to lie around relaxing. When I really want to. And now I have to be aware of when I really want to. Looking back, movement has been my escape my whole life. From the child of a dysfunctional family who found peace in a dance studio; to the heartbroken, emotionally abused young woman who sweated out the hurt and the alcohol in a fitness studio and gym; my body set me free.

Nowadays there is very little in my life that I want to escape. In fact I can't think of anything personal, but plenty of a global nature. Perhaps that's why I can now see more clearly the joy that movement brings me. Can appreciate it as an expression of the sacred; of Life.

I don't intend to sedate my body again. I'm not going to imprison it in my thoughts and feelings of shoulds and ought tos. I'm going to let it run and skip and dance and sweat all it wants to, I'm going to give it what it needs to thrive and I'm going to love every minute.

Mary Oliver knows her shit.

1 comment:

  1. A very timely read, this, for me - plant-based works best for me too, and I've been teetering on the brink of running for some time now... Could do with a way to get past the lethargy at the moment, and maybe this post will start me. :)