Are you about to start a diet for 2016 to repent for all the unhealthy eating you've been doing? Or perhaps you already started. How are you planning to do it? Diet? Detox? Cleanse? Magic pills? Starvation? Green goop? Juice? 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 cutthroat 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 Stormtroopers invading my mind. These thoughts consumed me. What should I eat? What can I have? What can't I have? How many points is it worth? How many calories are in this? I had lost connection with my body. I was so preoccupied with rules and restrictions; I didn't even know when I was hungry or full. 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 awakened 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 were 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. This course was nothing short of 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. The Force is strong within you. You can trust yourself. Jedis have a completely different approach to fighting than Darth Vader and his stormtroopers.
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 naturally stopped overeating -- something I thought would never change. Without exerting crazy amounts of inner will power, it became effortless to put down the ice cream or my fork. I stopped trying to lose weight, and focused on self-acceptance. After all, Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no try." The more I focused on self-acceptance and tuning into my body's needs, the healthier I became.
Spiritual psychology says, "How you relate to the issue is the issue." It was never about the food, it was about how I was relating to food and myself. "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," said Harriet Brown, author of "Body of Truth." Numbers on the scale aside, it's much healthier to be in a place of self-acceptance than a constant fight inside. Love is the most powerful force, right? When we are relating to ourselves from a place of love instead of hate or fear, we find motivation to take good care of ourselves from the inside out.
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.
So be encouraged, young Jedi! This is great news! You can find a healthy size for your unique body without ever "trying" to lose a single pound. You never have to go on an extreme 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! My prayer for everyone in 2016 is to find peace within and a healthy way of living that lasts. The Force is already with you. You just need to be one with your force.
To learn more or coach with Mandy Muenzer to become a Jedi Mindful Eating Warrior, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website, www.mpoweredbylove.org