“G, I want to be happy this year .. that’s my goal for 2019”

Background – A was someone who worked very diligently, lost a lot of weight and maintained it effectively. Now, she’s worried that she’s not “naturally thin” and “happy”.. whatever that means! We tend to put pressure on ourselves to make resolutions and to be happy around this time of the year .. so sharing it with you at an opportune moment. Here we go!

G: Hey, A ūüôā Excited about our session ..! Can we start .. tell me what you need my support with?

A: Hi G! Me too ūüôā basically I want to be happy G. That is my goal really. I don’t know what all type of details you want, I have checked my weight just this morning, got some blood tests also recently .. if you ask specifically I will share.

G: Oh, for this goal we will need other things A. (looking seriously)

A: Yeah, yeah! I will make a list and have it ready for our next call. Tell me ..

G: All we’ll need is a smile. A b-i-g bright cheerful smile!
A: Aww so sweet! That I have now only G ūüôā but I want to be happy in a different way.¬†I have a sister, G. She is just so beautiful, naturally thin .. not like me! Eats whatever she wants – cakes, chips, and nothing bad happens! I did double masters, I work, have good kids .. good husband .. lost weight too – everything is nice. Now I want to be happy.

G: A, did you know this thing Kannada people do .. I am from Karnataka and for Ugadi (new year), we people have a teeny bit of jaggery with a teeny bit of neem flowers, the first thing in the morning after bath. You know why?

A: Oh, I did not know .. tell me?

G: To remind ourselves that life is 50-50, like it is for your sister, for you and for every single one of us. That is the nature of life ..! It is really not about anything else – rich, poor, job or studies – none of that matters. Right?

A: yeah .. but some people eat anything at anytime in any amounts they like no, G?

Pause.

I was reading somewhere how the conversation that you have with your own self is the most important conversation there is!

Just like losing tens of kilos did not lead to happiness, so also eating cupcakes like there was no end, wouldn’t make you happy. It would make you have a stomach upset and throw up, that’s all. Going by other people’s external story gives ZERO clues about what their inner struggles are. Even if this other person happens to be your own sister!

Happiness is a decision you can make. And that’s all there is to it – your situation doesn’t have to change even by a dot for you to be happy!

And specifically to this context, we’re similar to our siblings in some ways and different in some other ways. Even when you have identical twins, genes aren’t entirely identical.

Do you want to be happy in 2019? Then, please give yourself permission to be so and decide that you will be happy no matter what.

This is what you have to do – think happy thoughts!

If you’re sad about your fat thighs – think a grateful thought like “wow,¬†I have¬†thighs!”

If you’re upset about eating junk food – think a gleeful thought like ” wow,¬†I get¬†to eat!”

A friend who lost her beloved dog thought “wow, I¬†was fortunate to have had¬†this dog” and felt grateful even in her grief.

To eat healthy, to go on a diet or to work towards a better body or wanting to improve in some other way, it is not required to criticize yourself and berate yourself.

Healthy eating for it’s own sake, weight loss for weight loss’s sake – that’s it.

Want another option?

You can choose to be whole, see the value in other side of ‘happy’ and allow for it!

You know what this would look like?

It’s like saying –

“hey skin, please hurt if I were to touch something hot – so,¬†I’ll be more careful¬†next time”

“hey eyes, please cry if some dust went in and is bothering you – so’¬†I’ll remember to protect¬†you better “

“hey mind, please go guilty if I were to do Facebook 5 hours a day – so,¬†I’ll be more mindful¬†how I use time “

While hurt, cry and guilty are f-a-r from happy, they have a purpose and place.

So please, realize while you can be happy no matter what, recognize the usefulness of non-happy and embrace it.

I promise you it’s gonna make 2019 and every year thereafter a very meaningful one for you!

Year-end Healthy Eating Goals – Tip #2

Just what could you achieve if only you decided to not get disheartened in the process of learning ?

I have had many many teachers who said some or the other version of this – you’re either succeeding at something or you’re learning. Let go of the harshness of the narrative of failure.

Here’s a video that can help you with some useful metaphors for an ideal mindset – it’s short, go watch it!

 

Year-end Healthy Eating Goals – Tip #1

With November fast approaching, if you’re the kind who is feeling a motivation high to get things done – #1 congrats, welcome to the club!

There are many people – myself included – that are the kind who study best the last three months before an exam. I’d like to think of it as peaking at just the right time. So, to make the most of this phase, I’ll be sharing my best tips with you to help you with your healthy-eating goals.

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE WHAT YOU CAN GET DONE IN 8 WEEKS, IF ONLY YOU FOCUS!

Here’s¬† tip # 1.

This particular tip gets all mixed up for perfectionism – and it is sooo not! Please watch the video to see for yourself, what I’m discussing.

 

The Power Of Choice

 
A nurse in palliative care took notes and recorded the regrets of dying people in the last twelve weeks of their lives. After doing this for many many years with that many people, she observed how there was a pattern emerging in what they had shared with her. She put it all in a book titled The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying, which has been translated in 29 languages and read by millions around the world. The nurse’s name and the author of the book is Bronnie Ware.¬†
 
One of the top five regrets expressed by them was – ‘I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me’.¬†
 
These words have a familiar ring to them for me when it comes to matters of food. Since I turned vegan close to ten years ago, I have interacted with a lot of people who have made a similar choice. And almost every single one of them wished Рincluding myself Рwe had the courage to adopt a food choice that was true to who we are at heart, earlier in life. 
 
Now, pleeeease understand, I’m not imposing my choices of anything – let alone food – on anyone here. But I will say, wake up and realize that you do have a choice. You get to choose what you want to put in your mouth in the name of food. Claim your power.
 
Food you put in your body influences you at a very deep level. And if you are going to operate from a place of habit, at least make sure it’s serving you.
 
You need to take control of not only what you will eat, but also of how it is grown, who cooks it and how it is cooked. The world over, we as women have been the primary cooks within the family unit. Did we see it as our power? Until very recently we did, and this is fast eroding.
We are now outsourcing cooking at many levels Рhome-cooking to cooks, increased dependency on restaurants, food vendors and other food service providers, and ultimately to giant food corporations who serve us everything from our highly processed breakfast cereals to gooey chocolaty or sugary bed time drinks and everything in between Рcookies, chips and whatnot.
 
In a book titled Cooked, the author Michael Pollan argues how reclaiming the control over our cooking is the single biggest thing one can do to rebuild our health Рnot just our own but of the family and the community at large. 
 
Even more fascinating is the insight as to how the Food Industry got its foot inside the kitchen door. Most women Рthis is true world over Рheld on to their responsibility of cooking for family the longest. We were happy to hand over the cleaning chores much more readily. But cooking was and still is perceived meditative and comforting. 
 
But when our negotiating for better labor division kinda got louder and with the eavesdropping food industry lurking by, it saw an opportunity. And acted upon it without wasting any time. And it “uses” feminism and women’s liberation to sell us convenience. What it actually is, is hyper-stimulating highly processed foods.
 
To recognize this, you need to develop awareness. And call upon the wisdom to pause. Wisdom to observe. And then you get to stand in your power and eat by choice.  

The Wisdom Of Observation

 

 
One of the most difficult things is pausing. When it comes to matters about  food, pausing feels near impossible. This is owing to the fact that we all feel very strong sense of anxiety, even just thinking of it. And even when the pause is only a matter of seconds. Somehow, the conditioning is such that state of not DO-ing or just BE-ing brings feelings of guilt and inadequate-ness upon us.
 
But the invitation to pause comes with an irresistible promise. See what Victor Frankl says about it – “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
 
This kinda seals the deal right? We must learn to pause. And this means you must learn to observe the anxiety that shows up when you stop any DO-ing. 
 
What then is the wisdom in observing?
 
In learning to observe, you develop a subject-object relationship to that which you are observing.
 
What does this mean?
 
Let’s say, you get an urge to eat a piece of chocolate. And very wisely, you pause. Now, you’re observing feelings of sadness come up within you. This makes you the observer, a subject. And the feeling of sadness is what you’re seeing – which is the object.
 
This is the first step to distance yourself from the feeling. Because really, you are not your feelings or your thoughts. You have the power over what you think which gives you the power over what you feel. 
 
Reflect upon this for a moment.
 
Now, when you go a step further and tweak your language,
 
you’d NO LONGER SAY – ‘I am sad’¬†
 
instead you WOULD SAY – ‘I am thinking sad thoughts’¬†
 
This means, you choose to think happy thoughts. And this would very likely change the way you are feeling.
 
Dr. Joe Dispenza says, “Ninety-five percent of who you are by the time you‚Äôre 35 years old is a set of memorized behaviors, skills, emotional reactions, beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes that functions like a subconscious computer program‚ÄĚ
 
This leads us to conclude how important it is to develop observation as a skill. Because it is the act of observing which will help you hold it together through what may be very brief but common unpleasant aftermath of pausing.

The Wisdom Of Pause

 
 
Let me start this post with an offering of a poem by Martha Postlewaite. It’s titled Clearing.
 
Clearing
 
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.
 
Create a clearing in the dense forest of your life … this is exactly what I mean when I say – pause. There is wisdom to pausing.
 
Have you seen how an artist steps back from time to time and takes in all he has done, before proceeding?
 
This act of taking a step back is a learned skill and a deliberate practice. It is part of the painting process itself.
 
Just like how gaps between the two musical notes is part of the composition itself. 
 
Are you wondering¬† to yourself¬† ‘what’s all _this_ got to do with food?’
 
Well, pausing – whether to check if your urge to eat something is worth acting upon, if yes – how much of it, when, is your hunger satiated, to appreciate, to say thanks for the food – all these lie within the realm of pause.
 
If you’re going to stick the food in your mouth instantly upon sighting it, smelling it or desiring it – without pausing, you’re robbing yourself of an opportunity to evaluate it.
 
When you observe someone who relishes their food, or eat in alignment with their goals, or values eating to support life as opposed to living to eat – they would have invariably mastered the skill of pausing.
 
A pause gives you those precious few moments to reflect upon your choices and actions, helping you to navigate the course better. In a way this is to say, each time you pause, it puts you in power.
 
If you have ever felt how you feel powerless around food, get into the habit of pausing from time to time. 
 
Reflect upon your longing to eat that cookie, check if you really want to.
 
Gaze at the food in front of you. Do you like how it looks? 
 
Stop after every few spoonfuls or mouthfuls. Do you want to eat some more? Do you need to eat some more?
 
Reconnect with yourself.
 
Pause.
 
 
Pause. Reflect upon the longing to eat.
 
Pause. Appreciate the food in front of you.
 
Pause. Relish the feel of food and its taste in your mouth.
 
Pause. Check to see if you’re feeling full.
 
Pause. Give thanks for the food you just ate.