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Rebirth

My body feels renewed as spring has sprung, leading to the end of emotional and physical hibernation. Buried beneath snow, cold, and parkas, sun, warmth, and tank tops reunite to highlight the day. With this new season comes outdoor activity, walking with friends for miles, baseball at big-league parks and little league on sandlots, and natural vitamin D dispensing into my body from rays of sunshine. While spectacular buds birth and grow upon branches, I enter the world a replenished, transformed woman. My goal weight reached, walking where few amble, out of an old version into my new body, proud, and comfortable in my skin, emotionally, physically, and internally reborn, seeing what is impossible when self-love ignites and weight releases.

Emotionally euphoric, full of joy and illuminated light, fog, depression, and darkness of faded energy, disappeared. A roller coaster of sugar highs and lows bringing tears, excess weight, and searches for sustainable solutions became my past, never to return. The beacon of light finally lit itself where initially obscurity loomed. I trusted the clean eating process, a lever raised to show me the way. Hearing hope, direction, and possibility, and feeling love, support, and gratitude, I ventured slowly along the journey. Prior to physical transformation, acceptance, a white flag, and self-love lead my path.

Physically my energy restored, replenished, and recharged. Years of lethargy, ultimate exhaustion by three in the afternoon, and a weakened core caused lower back pain and deteriorating strength. Alleviated ailments, push-ups, planks, and boot camps restored my energy, core, and posture, rehabilitating my physical strength. Walking tall, carrying heavy items with ease, and rejuvenated, my physical prowess is undisputed. Rebirthing atrophied muscles into dense matter alters my mood; I reach for and strengthen all facets of my life. The physical aspects connect with the emotional elements, fueling my body, brightening my core, mind, and heart.

Enhanced by physical power and emotional stamina, rebirthing my spirit has replenished my soul. When writing, words pour out of me like a watering can, enhancing the soil, soaking the seeds, and sprouting the part of me blessed with this gift. As strength rises within me, my essential purpose stirs to send the words from my heart to paper, sharing my journey, enlightening lives though the magic of letters upon a page. This rebirth aligns me with a higher power that had escaped connection when the blues, weakness, and darkness surrounded me. Freed from my own shackles, words sprout daily, flowering thoughts to feed my soul. No longer a void to fill, or an emotion to numb, internally these new beginnings connect me to something greater than myself. Life purpose appears present and set in motion.

To ride the rails of change and personally grow, rebirth is a steady process of patience. An emotional, physical, and mental transformation primes itself for a lifetime. Yet strengthening all avenues, releasing the “old”, and birthing a new body, energy, and heartfelt connection, engage my senses, empowers, and changes my life. Self-worth, the mighty mountain at the core of emotional, physical, and spiritual growth is paramount. Comfortable and confident in my skin and freeing myself from fear, rebirth began. Formerly falling deeper into an abyss, I clawed my way out as rays of hope and lightness of being led me out of misery, darkness, and desperation. Years of turmoil fed hidden emotions, weakened me physically and mentally, then seeds sowed, spring sprung, and self-love created my rebirth, strengthening my mind, body, and spirit.

Letting Go

A shaming, destructive, and painful memory from the past flew into view recently with an immediate surprise; it triggered nothing. I felt nothing, no judgment, no opinion, no emotion wrapped around the memory. Peace suddenly arose and surrounded the thought normally met with anger, resentment, and sadness. Instead of grabbing the nearest Oreo®, I sat peacefully, aware of transition, healing, and a nothingness I thought impossible. This newly occupied space of past hurt, regret, and pain, simply nullified into letting go, transitioning into a “knowing” of surrender, peace, and non-reaction. Relieved from this non-triggered emotional response, unaware of how this would materialize, today a “knowing” of my healing arrived and I let go.

Changing, healing, and mending of the heart happen sometimes silently. Does transformation require consciousness to process healing into being? My current experience concludes healing hovers, infiltrates, and assembles wordlessly, invisibly, and undetected, until thoughts, emotions, and actions accustomed to pulling a lever no longer generate an explosion of pain, worry, or divisiveness. When what would normally be reactive nullifies into silence, a letting go with acceptance occupies the space. Peace, self-respect, and self-love replace the self-loathing, outward hatred, and stored, hoarded anger. Great supply of resentment releases, the heart softens, and healing commences.

With compassion, inward and outward, I let go. Lacking judgment, resentment, and anger, I let go. Without control, tightening, and fear, I let go. Insight, consciousness, and introspection occupy my mind, I let go. Transformation in silence, simply being, and undisturbed, I let go. Releasing the weight, the emotional baggage, and the past, I let go. Cleansing the closet, the old, and the ancient, I let go. Losing shame, yet acquiring resilience, I let go. Allowing, opening, and soothing the heart, I let go. Through peace, healing, and stillness, I let go. The “knowing” is living open heartedly and letting go while feeling a sense of belonging, self-worth, and peace.

A healed and wholehearted existence translates to living authentically. Knowing what others think of me no longer mattering, encompasses my life. Cultivating self‐compassion releases perfection, engages my vulnerability to connect with others, and eliminates numbing of emotions and feelings of powerlessness. I foster gratitude, joy, and peace, enabling this release. Self-love, respect, and acceptance, while letting go, replace uncertainty. By simply being my authentic self, the nothingness suddenly existed, stillness presided, and I let go. Broken pieces of me, the shards of emotional glass that cut deeply, tarnished my past and present, curiously disappeared. The void filled where emptiness resided, a foundation formed, as if already there without me knowing it, and I let go. Time, process, and digging, healed deep wounds, yet “letting go” set me free.

Far Side of Struggle

Struggle finds me even when my eyes are wide-open awaiting shoes to drop and mountains to crumble. It surprises me, my knees buckle, and the ground suddenly feels closer to my heart than moments before. I grasp at air to stay standing, yet fall to the earth, pushing and pulling, clawing and climbing until I relentlessly release the effort to remain aloft. My energy wanes among the ruins of despair, waiting for a savior, surrendering with my white flag waving desperately, uncertain of how to rise to my feet again. Solutions are distant like a memory trying to retrieve itself, like words on the tip of my tongue. Former knowledge and lessons of yore vanish from my forefront, and I lay tattered, worn out, and empty in the dirt of failure.

Yet when silence and stillness come, a soulful, heartfelt whisper does speak volumes of my strength, past victories, and resilience that live within. Self-compassion weeps itself into existence. I begin to dust myself off, take stock of my current situation, and align goals with actions. Initially I rise to my knees, strength building upon small increments until momentum or a helping hand lifts me higher. Atrophy need not descend past efforts and return me to the distant starting line. I am further along than I initially thought. My ego recaps my incompetence, worthlessness, and failed outcomes, while my heart reiterates my true value with solace and shuts out the cruel, dark, inner self that plagues me with doubt, exhaustion, and failure.

Though the struggle is real, my heart leads me to the other side where healing lays waiting for relief, strength, and confidence to build upon itself. Faced-down-in-the-dirt moments require my courage to smell the tough fragrance that lifts me up through resilience. Pain and struggle influence harmful, edible substances for ingestion with desired yearning for more, believing I am in need of more to soothe the hurt. In these moments I cry the tears of old patterns, need for comfort, and relief of emotional pain, like an old muscle memory that lingers long past its welcome. These symptoms torment for immediate gratification while my heart aches for reaching the other side of struggle. The sweet food-related relief is temporary until I distance myself from the culprits taunting my taste buds; it acts as a dictator to my senses, attracting opium-like relief, the addiction it has become.

The far side of struggle stands where emotional pain lives and requires excavating myself from its ruinous path of failure. I embrace the knowledge it offers. Old patterns repeat while new lessons engage an alternate, successful path to repeal my destructive ways. Struggle waits steadfastly until ready to move to the healing, distant side. Leaning into emotions by feeling my pain, hearing their call for an unhealthy, eating solution marks the turning point of change. Without moving beyond this struggle, I remain in a holding pattern, reacting to pain, comforted by unhealthy, edible replacements. There I reside until I change my reaction. The paved weight loss path is a truth away in the far side of struggle by a shift of awareness bubbling to the surface. When it returns, I preparedly rise strong to take the first step.

Sleep Deprivation Weakens Resolve

Without adequate sleep, losing weight is challenging. Physically exhausted, I feel emotionally sensitive and crave carbohydrates for immediate energy, I search my refrigerator and pantry haphazardly without rational, mindful, and responsible forethought, desperate to relieve the discomfort of needing shut-eye. When healthy, prepared foods are unavailable, a smorgasbord of disastrous choices beckons the weakened consciousness.

During a temporary hiatus from a responsible, alert, and coherent mindset, I visit my pantry. Owned and operated for my children, processed, enticing, sugar-filled goodies are readily accessible to my sleepwalking body nearing these temptations. Foods that foster binges lay within my grasp. When mindful, a closet of characteristically addictive carbohydrates has little effect upon my will power. Yet add a sleep deficit and my acutely sensitive, reactive body craving comfort, relief, and energy, meets easily with unhealthy choices.

Some assemblance of reason chimes into my consciousness to force me to close the pantry door. Yet soon my head is gently knocking against the refrigerator door, I close my eyes, and see myself wanting, falsely needing, and craving sweet carbohydrates. My heart hurts from the conflict between weakness, desperately gathering strength to oppose an unruly sugar addiction versus the obvious yearning for anything filled with instant gratification and sugar. It taunts and begs me to inhale sugar’s appeal and reach for the boxes that contain it, reneging from my commitment to change, health, and self-care.

This tug-a-war between what I want instantly versus what I want long-term are opposing forces. I slide down the refrigerator door, feeling the cold hardwood sink into my sore, over-exercised gluteus maximus. Tears stream steadily down my face. Pain nestles in my chest. An acute emotional, deep hurt conjures a vision I cannot shake away. Aiming to distract it, I cry harder, yet the scene reappears without wavering.

I am walking quickly down the street, jacketless, toward the field house, aiming to retrieve the only large pair of softball pants for the game this afternoon. The vision of the Medium-sized pants cutting into my skin and the discomfort, shame, and embarrassment of seeing judgment cross the faces of my teammates makes me walk faster. Though I know my competition for the pants is only one other girl, I cannot bare to let her have them. I conclude I need them more than her. Compassion for her plight flashes across my mind, my inner turmoil douses the thought.

Then it happens. At first, it was simply the sound of a bus from behind, growing louder as its engine roared closer. Suddenly my radar via a piercing shout and cackle from the school bus sends shock waves vibrating through my veins, shaking the blood in my heart to travel faster. An unmistakable, gnawing ache courses through my insides, painful enough to paralyze me and plant me in my heavy feet that hold me up. I stop, hit from behind, stabbed with the words that reverberate in my ears. “Fat Ass!” echoed with chirps of laughter long after the bus flickered in the distance. My shoulders hunch deeply forward, the softball game already lost to me, the pants retrieval shame validated by the menacing, laughing voice from the bus confirms my fatness of being, not thin enough for the mediums, and not worthy of feeling loved or that I belong.

Water full of my anguish drenches my shirt, the firmness of the refrigerator door holding me up finds a gap to release me to the floor, and fetal position is all I can muster. I lie aware that I deserve better. I am better. As the agony releases with my tears, the cold floor awakens my senses. Relief seems to distract the cravings, their importance suddenly a foreign entity. My memory surges energy into my legs, disempowering the addiction, luring me away from the kitchen entirely. I cringe that my mind and will power went asunder easily.

When my body is frail and vulnerable from sleep deprivation unhealthy food infiltration has tremendous susceptibility and potential for disaster. Sleep deprivation weakens me physically and mentally, creating dysfunction and craving. Sugar addiction is empowered when sleep lacks. The disturbance disrupts mindful, disciplined, and purposeful behavior. My success relies on these elements for change. The more I snooze, the more I lose … weight, that is, and my resolve of worthiness grows stronger.

Sugar Addicts Need Not Apply

Keeping sugar at bay, denying it consumption, feels like holding my breath. Its intensity is like remaining afloat without a life preserver, treading water, and hoping that willpower and strength sustains its absence. Additionally simple sugar weakens me physically and psychologically by its addictive nature. The first physical step along the weight loss journey is simple sugar removal. Highly addictive, long-term weight loss requires its disappearance, enhancing health benefits.

For many, like a drug, sugar has the same numbing effect as heroin. Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, commented that heroin use feels “as if everything will be okay, and reduces emotional and physical pain. Any worries become alright.” Sugar alleviates emotions depth into dormancy. Making everything okay, all concerns slip away, and pain ceases to exist. Like an addictive drug, ceasing to utilize this substance, an aching, wanting, or need continues.

It is 1988. I am living at Boston’s 728 Commonwealth Avenue in apartment 4E. A CVS pharmacy sits adjacent to my building; I eye it with yearning knowing it occupies my need. The drivers in traffic, ignorant of my predicament, manufacture screeches with slipping tires, wrestle with rushing engines, and blast their horns with anxiety that plague them. Yet inside my dwelling, I sit alone, in emotional distress, depressed, and fearful of the emotions that need expression. Lying in a fetal position, my body launches without much consciousness into action to alleviate the pain. The familiar candy isle finds my hands grabbing two one-pound chocolate Hershey Bars. Soon my bed in 4E occupies a drug-induced woman, emotionally numb, her pain dissipating as the sugar settles into her veins. I am she.

This scene repeats itself often, numbing my pain of loneliness, feelings of unworthiness, shame, and aching from the void that lives within me. The cycling of this experience continues as weight mounts, lethargy surfaces instead of productive energy, and numbing prevents feeling anything. Sugar, my drug of choice, alleviates my emotional pain, yet destroys me simultaneously.

Substance abuse and addiction, its destructive element destroys physically, emotionally, and acts as an escape from reality. With my sugar addiction, it increases my waistline, enhances toxicity, and slows my body’s ability to digest and function properly. Psychological need eventually affects my quality of life. Cycling with centrifugal force, fearful of deprivation associated with eliminating sugar, consumption increases. My body continues to crave sugar until I alleviate the blocked emotions and distress that occupy my internal life.

“It’s not jumping out of a plane that will kill you; it’s the landing.” Landing gear for sugar detoxification simulates removal of an addictive substance. It challenges physically with headaches, exhaustion, and a mental pull to return to the additive indulgence. Bodies across America utilize sugar and food as a numbing agent visibly. The addictive substance aids and abets us from feeling emotions, stress, and pain. Without “using,” acknowledging, feeling, and expressing emotions, alters the need to numb. Addressing the purpose for emotional and physical escape via an addictive substance supports my recovery.

Although “everything in moderation” seems my solution, this need not apply to me, a sugar addict. Moderation leads to greater ingested amounts infiltrating my body through loss of control. Small amounts trigger my physical need to reach the same initial high or numbing effect. Like alcoholics, the addictive nature warrants self-control, an elimination of the substance, and a diligent path to recovery. Although socially acceptable and legal, sugar remains a destructive, health problem. Struggling with this affliction, elimination is the ultimate solution. If asked to work in a bakery or candy store, sugar addicts need not apply. This is a recipe for disaster.

A New Season

I struggle to see as if the light burnt out. I struggle to rise as if weighted down. I struggle to live fully as if hibernation beckons. Daylight dims sooner, temperatures drop colder, and adapting is harder than I recall. I glided along smoothly as the leaves transformed from green to glory. Yet now the fall foliage feels like me, vanishing. The grand gray suddenly illuminates the atmosphere, painting itself across the landscape, and gloom replaces my existence. With that final leaf, I fall and struggle to rise. Autumn silences itself as the colors dim, my energy diminishes, and a new season commences.

As the leaves bloom, brown, and fall, my body balloons with sugar, toxins, and processed foods, bloated, exhausted, and weakened physically and emotionally. Yet within this fall cleanup and changing climate, I resist the cravings that attempt to freeze my efforts. With a tool belt of experience, motivation, and knowledge, I am rising again. With consistent change and awakening from my slumber, I include social support, a phone-a-friend option, and self-accountability. Although I had initially been falling with the changing season, a refresh button is pressed and a renewed spirit returns.

Steady I plan, prep, and prod myself back to normalcy of “clean” food, exercise, and newfound energy. Clarity of mind returns, and momentum builds upon each day’s success. Time is the elixir that sets the pace for longevity with mindfulness at the forefront of action. Although small steps drive me forward, the consistency and perseverance of repeating the process creates the turning point toward cumulative results. My incentive to feel comfortable in my skin, emotionally balanced, invokes instant inspiration to rise from dormancy and rejuvenate my senses.

Strength returns and I welcome the holidays, shortened hours of sun, and air of winter. A new season needs not thwart my health efforts into submission. It serves as an inspired reminder and cleared space, away from the old and preparing for the new. Sometimes transition takes time, beauty needs transformation, and growth requires a change of season. When the inner urge beckons, I recognize the awaiting opportunity to alter and stir my slumber. I awaken to the change of season, embrace the possibilities that beckon and inspire action, and let the winds alter my path to wellness.

Have you embraced the new season, altered your path with new perspective and action steps, and risen from a dreary to driven life? Are you clearing away the leaves of your life that have fallen? Have the piles surrounded or buried you? When is your fall cleanup?

Journey of a Thousand Piles

Sometimes as if just holding on, I am barely able to conjure the courage to stay above the mounting heaps of tasks. I start to let life pile up, while incapacitating fear stalls me from taking action to stay atop everyday existence. Paper piles up as plowing through it exhausts my senses, dirty laundry calls my name from a distance as I steer clear from witnessing the piles forming, and the loads of heavy responsibilities pile a mile high awaiting completion. Desperate to attack and alleviate the bundles building themselves before me, I cower in my corner, escaping the pain associated with taking any action.

This pain is the fear of failure. It seems I would rather lie down and surrender within the mess than feel the possibility of failure. Hence, laying in the fetal position, eating sugar-filled comfort, and sleeping through life seem best courses of action to numb the debilitating pain. Yet eventually I stir from this slumber and alleviate this hurtful woe by taking one small action step toward removing the stack standing between a flowing life and me. By clearing my space, opportunity for personal growth, creativity, and possibility connect clarity, flow, and intuition to my heart that pleads for connection and purpose within the present moment.

To change my reality, I take one moment, one small step, one task toward removing the heavy piles holding me back. My energy shifts instantly, transforming the dormant life into one flowing with intention, mindfulness, and motivation. Unknowingly as this energetic change occurs, I move onto solid ground where recently quick sand had me sinking. I find the strength to pick up my shovel to dig through the piles, throwing out the unnecessary, washing the dirt from my protective layer, and removing the heavy weight of responsibility from my shoulders that had been restraining me from successful outcomes.

When I feel as if I am just holding on for dear life, I now recognize debilitating fear that leads this piling process. I may be unaware of the stealth emotion piling up within my existence, yet my immediate response to numb away the piles hoping they will vanish on their own is my telltale sign. Most importantly, I alleviate fear by taking action, feeling the emotion and power of change, and letting one task lead to the next. Piles begin to dissipate and clarity returns within cleared space for a flowing life. A journey of a thousand piles begins with one small step.

Any piles laying around your world? Can taking just one step lead to the next? Liberation lives there, in the action step that clears our environment, alleviates fears, and rejuvenates strength. Take one small step along the journey of a thousand piles.

Sleepwalking

To sleepwalk through life, living with limited awareness is sometimes the most I can muster. Disconnected from those around me, I putter and feel fragmented; only one cylinder is spinning. Drawn to my bed, to live within another dimension or universe of dreams and circumstances, sleep alleviates the excessive desire for peace, tranquility, and silence. Yet responsibilities beckon, I have not the luxury of slumber for significant lengths of time. Like an automaton, my limbs make the necessary movements to complete tasks, leaving Keats’ rosebuds where ye may. Life happens without my alert consciousness. I continue to talk and walk, sleepwalking through life until I awaken with wonder and stillness to notice the deafening silence I heard not before.

The creative spirit wants to unite craft with its maker, laying words to paper, paint to canvass, and invention to blueprint. An everlasting flow of love wants to feel the bloom of passion, the joy of ecstatic excitement, and the invisible, energetic wave of affection. My natural, human instinct for relationships, lost in a sea of ephemeral mist, awaits and wants vulnerable connection between souls to inspire my heart to open. I engage in the world surrounding me only by conscious choice, a splattering of interactions I choose by active participation. My merging with the world requires alertness that sleepwalking deprives and shrinks into a cocoon of hidden abandonment.

Yet sleepwalking happens inconspicuously. The lights dim and the fog spreads, blanketing my spirit for rest. I lay hibernating until the warmth of change awakens me. I rest within, my limbs moving with the day unaware of the potential consciousness. Cognitive abilities strengthen appearances of normalcy to the external world while my emotional, dormant heart remains numb eliminating the light beyond its surface. Physical energy revs when necessary while the inability to feel emotional connection, a catharsis that engages the spirit, seems lost in a cavern of emptiness. Periodically I awaken in this dream to notice the disparity within my life, yet hunker down to salvage energy, return to peace within, and drown in the calm dream of safety, ease, and familiarity.

Sleepwalking through life limits our potential for a life with meaning. Awakening from the dreamlike state requires conscious connection between our hearts and the peripheral world. We must jar our souls, no longer hit the snooze button, but awaken when the alarm sounds. Awareness compels us to demand change for ourselves. To allow the human spirit to creatively blossom, love unconditionally, and connect with others on a deep, heartfelt level, engages the soul for a full and meaningful life. Sleeping through life eliminates risk, yet enforces lack of purpose and living fully. Slumber as the forefront of our existence fulfills responsibilities, but reduces inspiration that feeds the spirit. Eventually our light goes out and asleep we remain. To see the light, we must energetically motivate ourselves to arise, stretch to engage with our Source, and enter the realm of insight with creative and emotional expression. Opportunity, possibility, and inspiration live at this open window. Peek out, jump through, and engage life with purpose. Awaken!

Numbing the Pain

Consumption is my go-to reaction to alleviate pain promptly. Eating, shopping, and talking, top the charts for numbing my discomfort. Whether I chomp on pretzels, purchase clothes online, or entertain the gift of gab, each act as refrains, helpful distractions from pain. Today I reached day’s end suddenly aware of the ache that existed during its duration. I leaned into the discomfort, surrendering to it as the sun set; it bowled me over into the fetal position. Crouched upon my bedroom floor, I recognized and reviewed the no-good, very bad day, and the weakness in me that neglected awareness sooner. Like a reel-to-reel, I relive the past day, as if observing it for the first time.

With subpar awareness, my fingers befriend Ben and Jerry, type the credit card number for purchase, click the Submit Order Button, and dial a friend’s phone number. Numbing discomfort by sugar cookies, sweet red grapes, and the taste of a tootsie roll banishes my distress for the short moments while the sugar rolls down my throat. Although I savor the taste, my immediate pain returns in short order searching for additional relief; alternative numbing agents do not deny my request. Finding the perfect, comfortable jeans and top alleviate my pain, as does a conversation with a friend. A spoonful of sugar is the medicine that goes down, churning out endorphins in mass quantities, that is, until a different feeling replaces the last morsel of food, spending, or word. Shame retaliates with feelings of not being strong enough to keep the pain at bay.

Consciousness arises, aware that self-destructive behavior overtook my senses, and negative consequences result for payment. My body desired equilibrium, escaping pain through modes that transfer pain to manageable acceptance. Throughout the day my arms flailed in the direction of the pantry, outstretched for foolish, unhealthy choices, an online clothing sale met my euphoric senses, and sharing in a friend’s drama removed my aches long enough for surviving awakened hours.

Unfortunately, desensitized moments of escape hardly constitute mindful, awakened moments. Instead, negative, numbing agents acted on my behalf as survivable mechanisms. Within this darkness, these old habits reduce discomfort, feel especially strong, comfortable, and friendly sorts aiding and abetting in mass consumption, band aiding, and icing a bruised body part. Aches suddenly pale in comparison and their strength accentuates the weakness in me. Yet are they so strong and I so weak? Altering our senses to awaken in the pain long before destructive behavior infiltrates and devours mindfulness is possible.

The pause between breaths enables me to feel the discomfort and make a new choice. Should the arm outstretched with a cookie in hand have clued me into my destructive descent? Might the clicking of the keyboard of my credit card number have jarred my awareness of alleviating pain? As I dialed a friend to escape my woes, did an animated bubble of my psyche appear in the ether stating, “Pain is the reason for this conversation. Feel it, breathe it, you are escaping your present reality.” Bringing awareness to the senses requires a pause long enough to analyze our actions to alter them. Without mindfulness, we cycle our way to the madness of escape, numbing the pain while our actions tear at our self-respect, our self-love, and eventual outcome.

Dangling from a Cliff

Losing weight often feels like holding our breath until the pounds disappear. We grab control of the food, resist the temptations, and throttle our will power like dangling from a cliff where only one option exists, hanging on tight. With a death grip, we forcefully control our intake, awaiting pounds liberation, until we decompress, loosen, and release slightly the stronghold, testing survival. When we notice an inhale and exhale, we continue to slacken the grip, letting go a little more until suddenly we fall back into old habits. As we are falling, the fear escalates from believing we shall become our former selves. Yet without grabbing on fast enough, we continue to fall, and eventually fail. Our fear claims victory as the sugar infiltrates our bodies again like a resignation to the limiting belief of lacking worthiness, and the inability to clutch onto a piece of the rock that acted as support and footing.

The exhaustion, weariness, and same-old-same-old rearing its familiar head are overwhelming. Sleeping off the hangover of defeat seems best course of action when in actuality depression leads that journey. When hitting the water below this cliff, we stay afloat to watch where we could have been, until eventually we lose sight of the climb altogether, and let go, drowning in our sorrows of defeat. Beneath the surface, we relax into a space we thought earlier had been removed from possibility of revisiting. Yet here we lay where countless trek attempts resulted. We slumber into our discomfort of emotional imbalance, fear, and anxiety that has become our “normal” after repeated weight loss attempts. Challenging defeats are a cycle that necessitates an altered route. Finding that right path on the weight loss journey is finding the Holy Grail within.

What if we ease the process by eliminating holding our breath, release the death grip, and support will power in its fight for victory? Traveling into the journey with greater emotional awareness, learning from the defeats, and understanding what caused the weight to begin its ascent are helpful and powerful tools. Digging beneath the surface of our woes, traveling to places the past left dormant, wrecked, and in shambles, while unhealed wounds hid by consumption, numbing, and fear, an in-depth examination may lead to sustainable answers, avenues, and solutions to weight loss sustainability. Emotional triggers that led to physical triggers that led to additional pounds may be an internal step away from releasing pounds. With newfound knowledge, self-compassion, and understanding, finding a road that eases into sustainable victory eliminates our fear and increases self-love, self-respect, and self-care that felt impossible.

The place where lightness of being lives, removes the hardness of gripping goals, and liberates relaxation into a lifestyle designated for a lifetime. Strong arming food into submission results in a wrestling match that can exhaust the soul. Seek alternate avenues; answers typically lie beneath the surface as you lay like a scavenger upon the ocean floor. With awareness, changing the stories that define us from our past, healing engages movement toward the surface. As we swim and exhale with release, we break through the surface, healing emotional parts while physicality strengthens. Outpouring hands to grasp may appear if we clear our myopic vision, as to not venture alone upon the mountain before you. Drying ourselves off with support, the climb continues with others along the same plight. Handholds and footholds that initially were invisible suddenly appear, larger stepping-stones materialize, and we climb with greater ease than before. Holding on seems less challenging, our grip loosens, and we eventually stand on our own two feet without imbalance. Past same behavior was suicidal where now our strength coincides with intention, healing, and awareness.

Yet upon this steep cliff, crags, crannies, and obstacles engage learning to increase endurance, resilience, and sustainability. Recognizing their gifts to our soul and ultimate success enable their testing ground to educate rather than defeat us. Those normal struggles that life offers are necessary pieces that line the path, to engage in self-actualization and acquire personal growth. The crevices that make us stumble are meaningful lessons and opportunities to become our best selves. Living our life purpose utilizes these teachings and are blessings for well being. Because in the end, living fully with meaning gives us the lifestyle we were aiming for when we began this journey. It is unnecessary to dangle from a cliff when your next fall could mean new beginnings and eventual spectacular endings. When you are scavenging for scraps along the ocean floor, or slumbering in bed defeated, look up, and take that first step to the surface.

Maintaining the Weigh

Weight maintenance requires a path that eases the journey. Maintaining weight has challenges unlike the weight loss passage. The weight that occupied life in a land that feels far, far away, represents a reminder with each misstep. Foreign, yet faintly familiar, fear beckons at the doorstep as if one wrong move retracts the pounds instantly. Changing food lifestyles has its daunting periods of reaching into the soul to discover its emotional pain, dormant memories, and healing left incomplete. Through the body’s physical and mental trial and error to tweak the diet alleviating physical weight from correlating with emotional pain. The agony, effort, and sweat bringing us to fruition, the goal weight we sought to keep, is the same grit espousing maintenance. Every corner presents new challenges to venture away from weight loss and settle into a holding pattern of a new body.

Most diets lack a maintenance plan and the missing manual for long term sustainability has many searching. Like grasping to weight loss like negative space, fearful of pounds returning, holding one’s breath like waiting for a maintenance cure before former weight ascends again. Continuing same restricted calories and foods while craving what feels missing is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, pounds return when a diet is no longer upheld. Finding a food lifestyle that continues to exist for life’s duration that burned weight from its existence initially is a final weight loss solution. Discovering the plan right for the body is the journey sought by the overweight masses. Yet once found with the emotional toll paid with internal healing extracted, the weight’s existence understood, a physical tweaking of the food plan controls weight maintenance with a successful result.

Maintaining the Weigh presents a path for maintaining weight when the initial weight loss journey is complete.  While life offers multiple opportunities to eat haphazardly without thoughtful consideration, and each vacation, business conference, and holiday tempt the pallet with unhealthy options and processed foods, maintaining a clean food lifestyle requires proactive choices at every intersection and crossroads. Yet arrival at a maintained, desired weight enables leeway that did not exist as the pounds melted away. Consuming a cookie, piece of cake, or ice cream cone is possible without packing back pounds. Allowing periodically less than optimal edibles into a healthy lifestyle without reversing weight through a fast lane of self-destructive behavior is possible. The journey beyond the vanishing weight exists with deliberate, conscious choices, and consistent action. Learning along the weight maintenance journey is a process, requires practice, tuning into your body’s response, and reacting accordingly. This book fosters Maintaining the Weigh for all seeking solutions to the weight maintenance journey.

When Life Throws a Curve

Life throws unexpected curves when most of us directionally challenged hitters expect a predictable pitch. We swing late, observe the pitch as foreign, unable to explain its strange, arching movement, and wonder why and how the curvature is possible. Witnessing several pitches, we start to recognize, interpret, and draw added meaning to the throw headed our way. After considerable practice and experience, when a ball arcs in our direction, response time shortens and the ability to swing and make a direct connection occurs. Along the weight loss journey we learn that life, filled with curve balls, requires resilience to react successfully.

Yesterday morning started with an excruciating, eye-opening revelation. Opening one eye, grinding pain reverberated through me. Surprised yet aware that my contact lens was the source, I removed the guilty party. Hoping to restore pain-free equilibrium, zero change resulted. Replacing contact lenses with glasses, my left eye’s faulty vision remained impaired. What else in my life was blurred and needed clarity? Sometimes a pain and lack of vision offers lessons for greater understanding for journeys ahead. What if this was always true and the lens of clarity requires learning in order to proceed?

The first email catching my eye was from an acquaintance asking if I had sent a Google Doc, and if not, to change my password. Next, a private message on my screen showed another asking the same. My response to both was an emphatic “no” and my morning went into reacting to a computer virus that left my entire contact list vulnerable. With years of added contacts, sending an immediate email to warn of the potential danger to all contacts seemed the correct course of action. With the help of a technology-savvy spouse, his morning and mine were turned inside out, time spent mediating this disaster. Passwords were deleted and rewritten, emails were sent at Internet speed, and my blog writing time was eliminated.

With painful, blurry vision and a computer virus, my day took a turn, teetering out of control. To add to the dominoes, a snow day had been called, and my young children were now stumbling out of bed, awaiting attention and breakfast. Additionally snow shovel removal waited at the end of the driveway by our mailbox to ensure the day’s delivery. Ruckus set in as the kids responded negatively wanting attention, my eye pain and blurred vision steadily continued, and my inbox began filling up with mail delivery rejections from all obsolete contacts. Over two hundred emails snapped back with a statement of non-delivery. My offspring adjusted eventually to the slow breakfast delivery, yet arguments ensued as each made their way to help with snow removal. Tears streamed from my children’s eyes as the frigid temperatures and early morning mishaps gathered steam. None of it a pretty picture, yet somehow manageable.

In time, I called the eye doctor and scheduled a “fit-you-in” appointment at noon, ignored my full email inbox, made myself a cup of tea, and told the kids to steer clear of me as my top might blow off my head should anything else darken my day. I began to contemplate the blurred vision, the computer virus, the unscheduled snow day trapped inside, and the clarity I could not capture from an array of curve balls thrown my way. I sighed, imagining the metaphor of mishaps in my line of view.

Perhaps I was just being hit by pitches, reacting only upon direct impact. What did it mean to have blurred vision; would my eye heal and see again through a clear lens? Would I clear the virus or continue to subject others to my fate? My meal plan was set off on a tangent as the events unfolded as well, skewing my dietary success for the day. Is it wrong to eat a brownie by 10 AM? I recently consoled another on Facebook with the phrase, “The ability to succeed is the ability to adjust.” How resilient was I in the face of adversity, unscheduled avenues, and the unexpected events thrown my way? Had I not seen clearly until now?

By day’s end, I had a diagnosis of ‘abrasion’ to my left eye, and must wear glasses for three weeks until healed, or if worsened, a virus potentially could be the cause. The computer virus I addressed with the giant send-out to fellow contacts, a scan of my computer, and an update to my contact list. Mail was delivered by the postal service in a snow cleared mailbox, my food plan eased back into balance, and I sat aware of a successful comeback after a day of alterations to the ‘norm.’

Our reaction to curve balls decides our fate. Should we choose to acquiesce to their aim of striking us out, our vision will remain blurred, out of focus, and deteriorating like an out of control virus, spreading like a contagion let loose into the wild. Instead the downward spiral slows long enough to catch a glimpse of the rotating sphere in order to hit the ball, allowing us to run freely and access some clarity. It is within these “still” moments we are able to see clearly, feel an energetic twist of change, enabling response time to quicken and access contact with incoming curves.

When life throws us a curve, examining the pitch long enough to take aim for a clear reaction is crucial. Today served me well to practice positive reaction, resilience and recovery. No one travels through life unscathed by the curves that derail each of us from our center. Equilibrium is achieved by reframing the situation, slowing time by living within each moment, gaining clarity as we swing in reaction. Recognizing the valuable lesson internally taught is useful along life’s journey. Learning to achieve resilience is one’s best bet against the mighty curve ball.

The Edible Truth

What if GMOs, artificial sweeteners, pesticide-covered vegetables, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, dairy from a hormone-filled cow, and all other foods from nutrient-depleted soil, produce lack of clarity, a muted heart, your essence from being heard, and a chatter-filled mind? What if the intuitive, all-knowing whisper within, is only heard with an unencumbered mind, a rested body, and an open heart? I argue that the world’s authentic guidance system has been silenced by artificial interferences, statically covering up inner truth. Yet, this realization enables hope and possibility for its reversal.

It is hard to know one’s inner truth and ultimate purpose when the body is depleted of the nourishment it requires. However, uncover the music, undo the damage, remove the poison that rages within, and the energy you have been lacking comes alive, as if reborn, now engaged in life. In essence, arrive back to a place from which we have come. This renewal changes all we know to be true; all that we have sensed becomes our potential. The revelation that food matters for all that we are is a truth worth knowing, information worth spreading wide and far.

There is a reason that people who go on juice fasts have abundant energy after a couple of days. It seems counterintuitive. Yet our lives have been spent, literally, on digestion. The body breaks down ingested, consumed food, and mechanically sends our whole being energy with which to grow and function. Send nutrient-dense, vegetable juice and like an injection, the body functions optimally without utilizing energy for digestion. Therefore, the surplus of energy is used elsewhere. Want energy? Juice it. “Got Energy?” is an excellent slogan for eliminating the treadmill upon which most of us have been running.

When the body, designed for digestion, is overworked, underpaid, and depleted of nutritional needs, the body’s restless, weakened, and decreased spirit, craves excess food to meet its needs, many filled with toxins. These foreign entities within the body destabilize the cells, causing illness ultimately like a formation of armies causing a coupe-like reaction against the body. Within this Trojan horse of an exterior shell, they wreak havoc silently and remain dormant, eventually causing symptoms until disease is diagnosed. They ravage cities and towns, the bodily mechanics and systems with capital buildings known as organs, until surrendering into disease. Soon the physical vessel we have called home, which has been entrusted with a lifetime, is six-feet under.

We have a choice whether to surrender or even to allow the armies to congregate. Take hold of these militants by sending them peaceful, energetic, organic nutrients to fill themselves with life force versus a death option. By sending a living food throughout the system, this physical vessel begins to work in harmony. Rapidly one feels renewed, invigorated, younger, and more like one’s authentic self than before. (“….more me than I’ve ever been”) The true self shines through, one’s essence returns, and like birthing the heart renews the spirit.

Every decision we make is a choice. When using a toxic-filled mind fueled by foods that prevent clear thinking, change is challenging. Knowing this truth may be the knowledge necessary to transform past actions. The coupe for change must overhaul, take charge, and adopt a leadership role. Within, nutrient-based fuel utilizes enzymatic pieces of the outside world to harmonize with the inner workings of the body. They exhume our being, cleanse and release our essence from captivity that it experienced since the first unrecognizable entity (“edible food-like substances”) entered the vessel.

Allowing physical healing to take place in the form of life force energy via real, “Clean” food brings the body to optimum health again. This freedom is the destination we strive toward, to enable us to live and breathe our best lives. With this energy and clarity, we may live an openhearted existence. Our life purpose naturally will be lived, while the music of all that we are is played and heard by the world. Living our authentic lives is about retrieving the gifts given, and utilizing them with intention. What if raw, organic, and “clean” food were the simple answer, the edible truth?

Clothes-ure

Cleansing, sweeping, and ridding the clothes from my closet were exceptional proactive experiences, healingly therapeutic, and energetically freeing. Multiple sizes from different stages of weight loss and gain, clothes representing various careers hung like memories awaiting resurrection. Removed from my closet, the “old,” folded garments adorning my bedroom floor patiently waited for a written inventory intended for tax purposes, and bagging and boxing for donation. Two months later, those clothes have not reached their destination. You read that correctly. My closet’s contents were removed from their historical location ten feet away, and have lain upon my bedroom floor for the past two months.

Whether subconscious or not, my lack of action to mobilize my clothes from home to trash bags to donation site is significant. Reminded daily of their existence as I pass by has weighed heavily upon me. Daily I see these piles, ignore my heart urging me to act, and sweep over that “to do.” Clearly I have held tightly to the clothes, as if a lifeline was attached. Protection I must be holding to maintain this ruse might interest others fearful of detaching from the old to embrace the new. Although I have walked into my closet extensively finding little to wear, I have not grabbed anything from the floor that lies just beyond the door. Therefore, any need for any retired garment is nonexistent.

What seemed therapeutic, healing, and worthwhile, has been waylaid into a holding pattern, stationed for its next adventure, and glued to the floor until I take further action. Although it prevents me from moving forward, and weighs heavily upon me, underneath the stressful surface is a feeling associated with saying goodbye to the past, fearful of letting go. The garments sit as reminders like tombstones waiting for a peaceful burial. Daily I walk by noticing yet not actually acknowledging their presence, as if I cannot face their demise, their graduation from my life. My heart says, “Let it go,” but my mind or ego holds tightly affixed.

Without this completion, I sense my physical weight remains stagnant. Like the clothes upon my bedroom floor, I sit in purgatory like a stalemate between my past and future. Both holding on with grit, the tug-a-war continues. I must push away the weight of the past in order to lighten and brighten my future. My success and well-being depend upon this action step. Perhaps a few tears must be shed as I bag the clothes, mourn the past for closure sake, carry the weight of the past to my car, and exit them forever from my life, relieving the beast of burden that lives within me. Cleansing the closet was a timely first step, while removal from my presence is another.

Healing emanates when the past is put to rest, no longer triggered within the present. My weight loss stalled after emptying the closet, perhaps a final plea to hold onto the past. Today is all about completions, forcing my mind to get on board with my heart. I am letting go, breaking free, and moving on. Healing is just a trash bag away from freeing my soul of the past’s limitations. Once I take action momentum follows, a push past the mind’s dubious tricks to keep me stuck and in handcuffs. When I remove the metaphoric weight, the healing deepens and pounds release. Ready, Set, Go! Trash bags, take them away; my weight will follow.

Hell of a Scale

I awaken to address the podium of steel again, seeking a number to represent my accomplishment. Yet the feelings of familiar disappointment darken the day. Experienced repeatedly, my efforts escape visibility on the weighing contraption. I step upon cold metal expecting change, yet nothing to gain except a vision of inaccuracy, my efforts not equating with results. Though one tool beckoning beneath me as an inexact science, I give it credence to show me my worth when my value hangs in the balance elsewhere. Fool-me-once, shame on you, fool-me-twice causing torment again, shame on me. I explore life’s details searching for answers, an explanation of the number representing me today until another layer of liquid, fat, or food assembles or disappears.

My mind retorts, altering the path from peace to darkness, and a fiery hell stands before me. Yet visible results in bodily measurements, clothing sizes decreasing, and waves of energy pouring from my pores sound a different alarm. A number cannot define my unit of measure, the core that beholds my self-worth. It only disempowers me if I offer it an allowance for which to spend torturing its victims. Embrace the decision to no longer visit the gates of hell that shell-shock its visitors with visions of darkness, heated anger, and depression in droves during the morning occupancy. Quickly release from any engagement with the devil that stands guard to ruin the day. Throw the temptress in the garbage; its use is futile at best. I need not be fooled when the outcome is dishonest, inaccurate, and foolhardy.

Should I hang onto it a tad longer, rearrange my feet, balance on one foot, and lean to one side, until the number falls in my favor, or justify the handicap I give it while awaiting the correct number to appear? The angels sing and life calls me forward for recognition of my accomplishments. Suddenly illuminated by the presence of joy, congratulatory praise, and a lightness of being, I spring off the metal contraption to the breakfast table boosted by a celebratory meal. Food rewards earned, I release the need to alter edibles to healthy options. By morning after, I tender my resignation and know the devil warrants accurate results today when yesterday was a mere discrepancy by the hell of a scale.

Signs and Sounds of Silence

One year ago I was rocking my highest weight, feeling particularly miserable on the day spring had sprung, and my writing sat paralyzed like a distant memory, unable to be retrieved, incapable of presence, nor driven to extend a word to paper. I resigned myself to awareness that any inner message would be a sign for change and any encounters an indication to relinquish old ways into the new. With eyes wide open with intention, I acquired increased sensory to see what I had not seen, hear what I had not heard, and touch an essence of greater guidance not felt where connection had been lost. Reaching for direction, solutions, and assistance, I wanted solace, healing, and energy to pull myself from the swamp in which I found myself drowning.

Later that day, a woman I serendipitously met described her weight loss success and the community that brought her there. Although following her path occurred two months later, I waited patiently with faith and hope that her avenue was my avenue. A year later, I recount ‘bumping into her.’ My destiny sealed for transformation and healing, I answered the call for change that rang that fateful day. Now I look for signals again, having reached a new pinnacle. Although no longer depressed, I sense a stagnation occurring, not simply with weight, but with direction in several areas of my life that seem closed from opportunity. Searching for an opening, I seek answers and signs again.

Today dawns new beginnings my senses tell me. Can you find your own signs of guidance around you? Have you listened for the whispers of wisdom that seem to float in the wind? When is your awakening for change? Is it now, if you listen to the sounds of silence, the signs of rain that fall before you? What are the indications that pass through and around you each day attempting to stir your soul? Which questions and answers will you ask and find? Only a heartbeat away, it is ours for the taking, ours for the listening, ours for the guidance we seek encouraging our paths to journey toward purpose, meaning, and well-being.

When You Think You’ve Got It

“I’ve got it. I’ve got it. I’ve got it. I don’t got it,” says a character in the Albert Brooks film, High Anxiety, carrying and then dropping a heavy trunk repeatedly to the ground, a comical sequence about misjudgment. Just when I think I have a handle on how to work my lifestyle successfully, I drop the giant trunk to a symphony of, “I don’t got it.” Today was one of those days. I stayed within my normal array of foods, but felt a lack of control, a sense of urgency to eat considerably more, and a desire to relieve a discomfort that my old psyche believed food could alleviate. Physically distressed by a minor surgical procedure earlier in the day, I circled around the discomfort searching for an alternative avenue of relief. Yet food eventually rescued me like an emergency vehicle ringing its sirens, racing to my aid and saving me from demise.

Although food comforts with immediate gratification and distraction, it fuels the fire rather than douses the flames. Food battles the hurt, aims to distract the pain, yet eventually causes greater emotional distress. Now observing my behavior post-excessive eating, I note the pain still exists with additional emotions awaiting their turn to be expressed. My disappointment, anxiety, and bloated body, plus additional ailments, plague me, while still in search of physical and mental relief. The ruckus from eating one’s discomfort snowballs into a morphed mess. Even with knowledge, experience, and recognition of these steps in play while occurring, I drop the trunk anyway, waylaying into turmoil I know well and have often overcome. “I got it. I got it. I got it. I don’t got it.”

Part of the process is to dust ourselves off and rally after damage is done, rather than finishing off another ice cream sundae. Stopping the cycle in its tracks with awareness is true victory. Imperative to recognize one’s imperfection, repeal the past, and move along formidably, is to note the lessons for future action. Phone a friend, ask the audience, give yourself a 50:50 chance, or leave well enough alone by walking away with current success; find new ground to begin again immediately. Risk of future failure is unnecessary. Instead learn from mistakes and make new decisions setting present and future victory into motion. Sometimes we got it, sometimes we don’t. Today, “I got it. I got it. I got it. I don’t got it.” The journey continues with “I got it” until “I don’t got it” until one day we simply got it again.

An Evolving Why

Motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle initially was to become comfortable in my skin as a metaphor for feeling emotionally balanced, healed, and whole. Achieving balance has allowed me to enjoy life significantly more, feel resilient, achieve aspirations, and gain additional physical and emotional energy to support others. Healing from the emotional broken shards that lay in my path has been my ultimate non-scale victory. Yet as the progression of my journey continues, the reasons that influence continued success evolve.

Walking into a building, capturing my reflection in the glass, I feel pride for the body I maintain. When donning a bathing suit for the first time comfortable in my body, this seasonal activity becomes meaningful. Walking proudly, full of energy and strength, a new day dawns as changes highlight victories. Yet what continues the journey is my “why,” transformed when the game’s inspiration altered. What propels me to uphold focus, the consistent process of small steps leading to progression, sustainability, and long term maintenance?

My new “why” is laced with longevity. While playing catch with my son today, my “why” resonated with each throw. Watching him excited by life, by baseball, and by simplicity, I envied his joy and wanted a piece of that inner bliss. Without my health, that happiness fails to illuminate. Living a long, meaningful life with my children and husband is my “why,” the reason to motivate morsels from entering my body, as if these choices depended on even the possibility of living longer for the need for happiness. To correlate my intention regularly, I must maintain this vision for longevity. A 35-40 year’s difference stands between me and my offspring exists and maintaining fitness and strength, youth and energy, repeating the process of my current journey consistently over a lifetime is necessary. Reasons perpetuate the lifestyle and encourage motivation daily.

Knowing the “why” for any goal is a powerful tool for success. Feeling the urge to step off the rails from a food lifestyle when barraged by obstacles, rather than stay the course is normal. Since the food supply consists mainly of processed, chemical-laden edibles, and dairy, sugar, and bread are commodities, abstaining from these foods is like working against a tide. Yet moving against the grain that brings health, happiness, and well-being are worth the efforts to establish longevity, inner peace, and healing. My reasons for maintaining consistent action are forever evolving, yet results remain the same as my “why” maintains my resolve to continue consistent action. Best practices during the weight loss journey include contemplating this evolution.

Goodbye, My Sweets

“Wait! Come back! I forgot to say goodbye!” I scream, as my old Subaru speeds down the street. Feeling the painful emotions from the last glimmer of my silver Subaru vanishing forever, I cry relentlessly, grieving for its loss with deepening sadness. Wondering if forgotten items lay inside it, how would I ever retrieve them if I remember? What little memory did I leave for someone else to discover? Did I really want to send my superhero vehicle away? Was I regretting the decision to depart from it as it began to move out of the driveway? Did I need to check the seat cushions again, glove compartments, and nooks and crannies to ensure nothing forgotten erroneously awaited my finding it? Although I had checked twice, why am I feeling that something was missing, and somehow I was unable to find it in the confines of the vehicle?

I awoke suddenly, feeling the sadness for a vehicle I had not owned in a decade. Yet the sadness was familiar, like a great ache of nostalgia, wanting back a mechanism that brought joy to my life. As I lay in bed thinking of the “Silver Rocket,” the name I penned my car back in the day, visions of missed and lost childhood items formed in my memory, a book I wrote and illustrated in elementary school my mom had thrown away. Having worked incredibly hard writing and coloring it, my devastation of that loss was great. A pink, musical, stuffed bunny that was swept away in the sheets at Disney World was lost forever with the hotel’s cleaning service. Yet it marked the final birthday present my Uncle Louie had given me before he passed away causing tears to drown me in sorrow for years. As these memories dissipated, a conversation chimed in my head from a few weeks prior.

“Do you miss the food, the ones you gave up?” a friend had inquired, wondering how the elimination of gluten, simple sugars, and most dairy was possible for any extended period of time. I recall thinking it was not much of a sacrifice when the rewards were extraordinary: weight loss, energy, joy for life, feeling comfortable in my skin and worthy of respecting my body while having a new love of life that contained greater value than any food. Yet now as I awaken, I feel an intense sadness, as if forgetting to say goodbye to something I valued with great affection and incredibly grief stricken about its departure and loss.

Freshman year of college in Washington, DC, feeling alone in need of comfort, I walked to Georgetown to a little store that sold caramel covered popcorn in a variety of flavors. Grabbing a gigantic bag, I pranced to the Circle Theater, an old cinema that repeatedly cycled through a double-feature of classic, foreign, and reel-to-reels all day long. Tickets were two dollars for the day. Memories of Jules and Jim, 8 1/2, Casablanca, La Dolche Vida, and La Belle est Beast spin through my mind now. With sweet and salty popcorn, comforted by the escape into the world of film and numbed by the food, loneliness scattered as the reel spun and circumvented my pain, sadness leapfrogged into pure contentment from the big screen of black and white. This was my heaven where escapism existed, living below the edge of reality, removed from painful loneliness and discomfort.

Meringue also starred in a similar scenario. Eating tubs of these sweet cookies until exhaustion set in or my tongue grew sore from excessive straight shots of sugar, the crash of my blood sugar level drove me into a deep sleep, preventing any feelings from reaching the surface. Insecurity and a depressed state of being vanished within each meringue bite. My apartment sat across from a pharmacy where a sixteen-ounce Hershey Bar and a large bag of Lays potato chips also had my name on them. Like the meringues, these items served the same purpose as did several trips to the bakery for elephant-ear pastries. To denounce feelings was an avenue like fighting a tide, yet hiding behind the food, weight, and numbing were supreme allies in direct combat of feeling and expressing painful emotions.

Although lack of self-worth was the underlying predicament resulting in bingeing behavior, sadness, loneliness, and depression solidified consuming unhealthy foods. As numbing agents of painful emotions of my past, feeling unloved, unaccomplished, “un” of many sorts, brought more misery as the weight piled on, and my self-image deteriorated. Guilt and shame associated with food as early as age eleven. Hearing my mother say, “Who’s in the cookie jar,” as the lid crept onto its enclosure, making an inkling of a noise she heard no matter how small a sound or far she sat from the container. The hidden empty wrappers found in my bedroom, as if hoarding food in shame, represented additional emotional pain lurking within.

Foods for numbing acted as allies and pillars in earlier days. They served as foot soldiers against what I deemed non-survivable emotions that needed a ‘Catcher in the Rye’, my inability to function without their defense. My anger, disappointment, and sadness as a child needed a respite from their existence; food worked overtime. Yet as the years progressed, food’s due diligence caused more injury than relief. The weight crept up, energy waned, and self-esteem plummeted from an additional stabbing with each blown diet. Wanting relief, my methods became ruinous and destructive, and deeper into depression I fell.

When my recent healing journey began, a commitment to feel emotions fully, and respect my body with food as fuel, the old foods that served me well in earlier years lost their value. They served a purpose when I needed them. Nostalgia and gratitude I have for these edible goodies that helped me hide from the grave pain that felt insurmountable and inconsolable. Had I given them merit, praised how they comforted in moments too painful to feel, too hurtful to embrace, that I now look upon their former value as a gift given out of love rather than destruction? Today food serves a different function, yet acknowledging my past and the foods that sweetened and spiced up my life feels necessary for closure and releasing their foothold and connection.

“It is time to let you go, my sweets. But wait! Did I forget something? I forgot to say goodbye and thank you for being a friend when I needed you most.”

Which Fork Tells Your Story

Exercise avenues and lifestyle food plans are experienced differently per person. “Your memories are unlike mine. You experienced things differently than I did,” my sister retorts when I excavate a memory from our childhood. Our life experiences are distinct messages, reactions, and interpretations of what is seen, heard, and felt. Whatever thoughts, emotions, and energy that wave through experiences, the stories have lasting effects, uniquely interpreted by each individual. Like growing up in the same household, each experience that resonates for one may not for another. Within each food and exercise lifestyle various viewpoints tell different stories.

Last week I met a woman who quit the successful, exercise, food lifestyle I follow. She said her dislike for the program’s leader contributed to quitting, that the plan was extremely challenging, and caused her great anxiety. Though I recognized immediately her interpretation differed from mine, I agreed that trusting a process is scary, as most of us have attempted many plans prior. My memory of meeting the program’s leader was similar, distrusting her blatant lashing out for those who questioned her opinions and her harshness that lacked supportive emotion. Yet with time, I grew to appreciate her tough-love methods and her tried and truly tested program. This woman and I told ourselves different stories while interpreting same scenarios. We started in the same seat, and ended in opposite corners of the spectrum.

Our lives are a smorgasbord of experiences which impact differently via interpretation. Through our analytical stream, we pick and choose conclusions. What works for one may not work for another, yet finding the best fit for ourselves is the goal. Using our knowledge, intuition, and response to outcomes, we decide best course avenues to reach our destiny. Listening to the success of another will not necessarily be the path one chooses. The stories we tell ourselves convolute, disrupt our senses, cause anxiety, or flow beautifully onto a path we have been searching. Whatever our journey, choosing the right road is one of telling ourselves a story that illustrates the ups and downs into a fulfilled destiny of success. What will you choose when your experience leads you to a fork in the road? What story will you tell yourself?

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