At a retreat I went to in March, we took turns taking pictures of one another on the beach. In so many of mine, all I could see was the soft little flesh peeking out from under my chin. My double chin is always with me, at any weight, but at that time it was particularly, shall we say – puffy.
This was the second retreat I had been to where much of the food came from Persephone Brown. That whole weekend, I ate the most delicious, nourishing food. Food that made me feel energized and satisfied. Food that awoke my soul. Yeah, that sounds super woo-woo, but there you have it. Sometimes life gets a little woo-woo. Things began to shift.
Within a couple of months, I had stopped drinking diet soda – a habit I had for nearly 30 years. I had tried to stop before, fighting cravings and dreaming of ice cold Diet Coke in my sleep. This time, it just fell away, it didn’t even occur to me to reach for one. When I did have a drink of soda, it upset my stomach. I didn’t have to flex my willpower, I simply had no desire to drink something that made me feel like crap. Soon after, I found I was drinking less beer, less Prosecco – less carbonated anything as I woke up to the fact that my body doesn’t love bubbly drinks so much. A little is fine, but lighter carbonation and slow sips are best. I used to build pyramids of empty diet soda cans while studying in college, now I can’t even finish one.
As drinking soda fell away, craving water poured in. I couldn’t get enough, some days I still can’t. I keep water refillable water bottles by my bed, in my car, at work and at home. I feel my thirst like a hunger, it pulls me to take sip after sip. Hannah Marcotti talks about this better than I – which is why I asked her to share as part of The Pleasure Diet. As the water poured in, I could feel my skin again. Not puffy and bloated, but soft and warm.
I found myself buying greens by the tub full and actually eating them, not just composting them. Salads that I never want to live without are now a big part of my dinner plate (and not unheard of as a mid-morning snack, lunch and even occasional breakfast companion).
A desire to get up off my ass came over me. I gave up my desk and chair at work and set up a makeshift standing desk. I found myself taking longer walks with the dog, keeping a brisker pace, feeling the muscles in my legs and thighs thanking me for taking them out for a spin. I didn’t keep a log, buy a Fitbit or try to measure “progress” - I just moved when my body felt called to move, following the urges to do what feels good. A few moments of yoga under the full moon, a few sun salutations in between taking calls at the office, using any excuse to take the stairs – holding that plank pose just a few moments longer because my arms are really enjoying being useful. I followed my desire to move and stretch when it felt like the time to do that, not because I had an obligation or a goal to meet.
When Catherine Just took my picture in July, I wasn’t expecting that the double chin would be gone. But it was. And, yes, there are angles and light and things professional photographers know, to show us our beauty in their images. But I take a fair number of selfies and I’m not seeing that puffy face these days in my own snapshots either.
I don’t know that I’ve lost weight, because one of the other things that fell away was the compulsive desire to weigh myself. I can tell you that I feel connected to what pleases my body, I feel strong and I feel beautiful. Most days, I even feel rather sexy for a mom in her forties.
This body that is nearing the mid-point of life feels heard. I will keep listening, because there are people in their 70′s in my yoga classes – people with bodies that stretch, twist and hold poses firmly even with aging muscles and crackling joints. And I want to be one of them.
I took everything I ate and learned and poured it into The Pleasure Diet. If you are ready to take extraordinary care of yourself, I hope you’ll join us (but hurry! – registration closes in less than 10 days).