When it comes to achieving a fit and healthy body that I feel comfortable in, I started at the point of absolute belief. This is like those who believe in a “one way only” religion. My thinking was dominated by “either/or” logic. I believed that the only way to lose weight and keep it off was to control my calorie intake and expend energy through structured exercise. There was no other way — I had found the answer, the solution, the truth — and everyone and everything else was wrong. This state of absolute belief led to rigidity and stasis. There was no room for growth or discovery of new ideas or different perspectives. I was a card-carrying member of the dieting club for five years.
When I became disillusioned with diet and exercise as a lifestyle (and disappointed in my ability to stick to the rules) I ventured out beyond the box of calorie control into other ways of shaping my body. There was intuitive eating, mindful eating, 80/20, the law of attraction, NLP, and therapy to explore. They each held the promise of being the way. This is “and/both” thinking. And yet the more I explored, the more I got confused and overwhelmed. If they all worked to some extent, which one should I choose? This state of relative knowing opened me up to the diversity of possibilities. I had lost my intolerance of and anger towards any one particular strategy, but it took a while to realise that I didn’t have to align myself with one religion. I could pick and choose whatever felt right in the moment.
Now I am moving towards a clear awareness consciousness that suggests that all beliefs are illusions. Beliefs are creations of the mind that are neither true nor false through any standard other than their own. In this way of thinking I don’t have to invest my energy into believing one thing is true and another is false, or even that some parts of many things are true. I just need to see body shaping strategies for what they are — an expression of our desire to love ourselves and feel connected to life and to each other. They are a search for happiness, a way to find contentment and peace.
When it comes to eating and moving, there is no absolute truth, there is no relative truth, there is just being open-eyed and open-hearted. And when we shift from pulling our beliefs into us, like a toddler gathering up toys, to letting go of all of it our focus moves from inward to outwards. Energy streams out from us without constraint and embraces the world around us. We find insight, we grow, and we blur into the fabric of humanity as a part of a wondrous whole.
What can you let go of? Can you eat anything you want one day and then only make healthy choices the next? High protein for breakfast and vegan for lunch? Wait until you’re hungry now and eat for comfort later? Can you run everyday for a week and then meditate instead the next week? I know this sounds like chaos, like free-falling without a net. Your mind screams at you that you must be sensible, logical, disciplined and practical. I am not advocating that you do this all at once. It scares me too. But it is worth thinking about what might happen if you let go of the judgement around what it means to be healthy. Maybe the next step on the journey is to slowly disengage your mind and lead with your heart.
→ This post was inspired by the article Evolving by Kaisa Puhakka. You should read it.