I have a newfound commitment to not obsess about anything!
Which is interesting, because in the last few weeks I’ve cut my income by about 30%, and I’ve enrolled in a “plant-based” whole foods month long challenge. It seems like the perfect opportunity to get obsessed!
I have all this new time on my hands now; why not get crazy about couponing and all the money I should be saving. Growing my own food, so I can be a good plant-based student, while saving money!
It’s oh-so tempting. There are so many options and so much information out there-it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. It’s ridiculously hard to not constantly pound ourselves with a bunch of rules that somebody else came up with.
I think I’m ready to quit obsessing because I’m finally starting to believe that it doesn’t work. I don’t like rules that aren’t in my best interest. And if someone is telling me to eat kale (whether it’s an actual person or the voice in my head) when I’ve already had 12 servings of oil-free, salt-free, animal protein-free vegetables in 3 hours, I’m going to listen when my body screams “no!”.
I think the reason that diets or food plans don’t usually work is because someone else is making the rules for a body that’s not theirs. It’s because we’ve forgotten that we can trust ourselves.
Sure, there are general guidelines that are generally healthier for the general population. But if you’re forcing yourself to eat salad, when your body needs fat, that’s not healthy. No one can be inside you and say tomorrow at noon, you’re going to need x number of calories, or some vitamin D or calcium or sodium.
We have an innate ability to know what our bodies, minds and souls need. We know when we need green vegetables and when we need chocolate- we’ve just forgotten how to listen.
Our bodies’ signals have been so clouded by our dysfunctional pasts, our crazy culture, and the constant to desire to escape through food, alcohol, work or whatever. And so much of our food has become so distorted that it’s nearly unrecognizable as food. No wonder we’re confused.
But why do we keep doing crazy? Why do we keep relinquishing control over our own bodies and well-being to a set of external rules or to the voices from our childhood?
I think it’s because it’s easier in the short term. Because it can be a long, heartbreaking path to begin looking at why we do what we do. It’s hard to reconnect with a wisdom that we abandoned decades ago. We associate the familiar with survival, so we keep doing what we’ve always done. And maybe we’re scared of what we’ll find or of what we could lose if we really listen. Or maybe we’re scared of what we’ve already lost.
It’s been a process of several years for me, but I now know how to recognize what my body needs. The hardest part is really listening and then letting it shape my actions. Most of the time I don’t want to listen. I’m still scared of what could happen if I really pay attention.
But I no longer believe that someone else knows what’s better for me than I do.
So you may wonder why I’m even participating in this challenge if I don’t believe in rules.
It’s because in general I believe that a diet that consists of whole foods and that’s mostly plant based is what’s best for my health and the health of the planet. And because lately I haven’t been listening as well to what is best for me as I’d like to. It’s great to have a community of support and a place to share ideas and recipes. It helps me pay a little more attention to the choices I’m making about what I eat. I think challenges like this one can be helpful, as long as I use it as a way to support and encourage my own wisdom, rather than as a way to ignore it. Which is why I still eat meat or eggs or cheese a few times each week. Even though it’s not part of the plan, there are times when I feel like that’s what my body needs.
And sometimes I don’t care if something’s good for me or not- sometimes I get tired of being “good,” which is also ok, I just want that to be more the exception than the rule! And the more I make decisions for myself, rather than basing my choices on other people’s expectations, the less I need to rebel.
So when I feel those obsessions creeping in, I try and catch myself. I try and stop that voice before it totally grips me because I know now that obsessively worrying about anything, whether it be calories or money or whether or not the radio waves from my cell phone give me cancer, doesn’t help or change anything. It actually hurts. And it robs me of a whole lot of happiness in the process.