Are you about to start a diet for 2016 to repent for all the unhealthy eating you’ve been doing? How are you planning to do it? Diet? Detox? Cleanse? Magic pills? Starvation? Juice only? Vegetables only? Calorie counting? Pre-packaged meals? Shakes? Lipo? Lap band surgery?
I know it can feel like extremes are the only solution. You might be thinking, “Moderation just doesn’t cut it.” Or “Trust me, I’d live a healthy lifestyle if I could, but I can’t!” Well, I hear you. I used to feel the same way. I felt out of control around food. I could not be trusted in front of brownies, pizza, ice cream or nachos. Diets were the only solution. Every time I felt like I had hit “rock bottom” I would be newly determined to start another diet. I would always start out strong, but by day two or three of the juice cleanse I’d be binging on junk food. The cycle of restriction and rebellion just repeated itself over and over. A few times I lasted several weeks on a diet and lost some weight, but I always inevitably gained it back. It drove me crazy! Why did it have to be such a battle?!
I was a victim of the Darth Vader Dieting mentality. If I wasn’t harsh, strict, and cut-throat with myself around food, I was convinced I would gain weight. Strict diets and beating myself up were the only way. Like Darth Vader who never has mercy for anyone who fails a mission, I would beat myself up for not following through with my latest diet or kill myself on the treadmill to repent for what I’d eaten. I would always feel like a failure. No matter how hard I tried, and no matter what I did, I always came up short or gained the weight back. My dark, self-defeating thoughts were like an army of Storm Troopers invading my mind. These thoughts consumed me. What should I eat? What can’t I have? What can I have? How many points is it worth? How many calories should I eat? It was no way to live and no way to be, but I didn’t know any other way. I continued with the yo-yo dieting self-torture cycle for years until one glorious day the force was awaken within me.
I found out about a program called, “Am I Hungry?” by Dr. Michelle May and read her book called, “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.” She totally understood the struggle and discussed “mindful eating” (aka intuitive eating) principles in detail. My interest and curiosity was piqued. I was a little skeptical that this would work, but I was at the end of my rope. I decided to sign up for her online coaching course. The next 16 weeks completely changed my life.
When it comes to food, this course was nothing short of a true Jedi training. Now, if you’re still in the Darth Vader Dieting mentality, you might think that being a Jedi means being perfect, or being super healthy all the time—No, not at all. Being a Jedi is all about trusting yourself, trusting your inner wisdom, your inner knowing and your inner good. Jedi’s don’t win every single battle, but they have a completely different approach to fighting than Darth Vader and his storm troopers.
I needed this paradigm shift to deliver me from the dark-side. It took several months for it all to sink in, but in the end I came out a new woman with a new mind. I pledged never to diet or restrict myself again and I’ve never looked back. I learned to trust my gut and honor my hunger and fullness. I learned that all foods fit and that savoring and enjoying my foods actually helps me eat in moderation without feeling like I have to exert crazy amounts of inner will-power. I am now living in freedom with food. I have a loving, trusting relationship with my body and self. There’s no more fighting as food is my friend, not my enemy. Furthermore, I have much more mental space and energy to spend on other areas of my life because I’m not thinking about food all of the time. I am definitely happier and healthier as a Jedi.
Here’s a crash course on the Jedi approach to healthy eating. It spells out “LOVE AT LAST.” It’s not the easiest list to remember so feel free to copy and paste these tips into a note on your smart phone to reference back to.
Listen to your body—the force is with you
Observe without judgment
Virtue over vanity: Practice self-acceptance
Express your feelings, don’t stuff them down or shut them out
All foods fit
Tune-in to your hunger and fullness cues
Let go of guilt and shame—judgment free zone!
Avoid multi-tasking while eating
Slow down and savor each bite
Trust yourself to make loving, healthy choices
My prayer for everyone in 2016 is to find peace within and a healthy way of living that lasts. I haven’t had to diet in years and am healthier and happier than ever. I stopped trying to lose weight, and started practicing mindful/intuitive “Jedi” eating. After all, Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” In the 7 years I’ve been practicing, I have lost 40lbs. The key was fully accepting myself at 40lbs heavier and vowing to myself that I would love myself at whatever size my body was at. Then, it freed me up to focus on making healthy choices as often as possible, but not forcing myself to. If I was 40lbs heavier right now, I’d still be preaching the same philosophy, because at the end of the day it’s much healthier to be in a place of self-acceptance than a constant fight inside yourself. It’s really not about weight loss, it’s about making peace with yourself. “A growing body of research suggests that how you feel about your weight can influence your physical and psychological health much more than the actual number on the scale,” Harriet Brown, author of Body of Truth. By practicing mindful eating, releasing some weight and finding a healthier size is often the positive side-effect, but it doesn’t have to be the goal. I’ve been living in this new way without ever “trying” to lose a single pound.
So be encouraged young Jedi! This is great news! You never have to diet again and you can stay healthy! We can all rejoice in knowing that the light is truly more powerful than darkness. We don’t have to live in pain and suffering of the dark-side anymore. We can live in freedom and joy and make peace with our plates!
To become a Jedi mindful eating warrior, contact Mandy Muenzer for one-one-one coaching or enroll in one of her Mindful Eating programs by visiting www.mpoweredbylove.com or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.