Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to Improve Your Relationship With Food: Part 1

What kind of relationship do you have with food?

Benjamin Franklin had a clear idea of how he felt about his daily sustenance- one should eat to live, not live to eat.

Food indeed fuels your existence, but it is much more than a basic means of nourishment.
Cultures are defined by their cuisines, cities are praised for their restaurants, master chefs are worshiped for their culinary innovations. 

Food is indeed much more than a way to take in necessary calories, macronutrients, and vitamins. Food offers a cornucopia of experiences that nourish more than just one's body.

Yet based on the current levels of obesity and the endless flow of scientifically altered "diet foods", the mass population can not seem to find and maintain the healthy relationship with food needed to live a healthy, satisfying life.

The vending machines have replaced the farmer's market.
The microwave has replaced the slow cooker.
The coffee table in front of the television and open lap top have replaced the dining table.

The eating experiences has been downgraded and diluted into a convenient activity lacking requirements of discernment and thoughtfulness.
Too many of us no longer know how to appreciate the dining experience.

Is Food Your Friend, Enemy, or Mother?

If food is your enemy....

Unfortunately, some of us have associated food with negativity.

The belief that food makes you fat/immoral/ugly/greedy/etc is a reflection of your inner insecurities being projected onto your plate.

If you feel the need to fight food, you may just need to analyze your reactions to the types of foods that abhor you.
Sometimes we feel as if we lack the power to make the choices that can potentially lead to our goals.
Do not let food hold power over you for you are in full control of what you decide to put into your body.

The foods that trigger feelings of powerlessness are rooted within the pool of associations you subconsciously make.
Did you have a bad experience with that food?
Do you feel like a failure every time you consume that meal?
Do you experience an inner conflict when eating something that impedes upon your values/preferred lifestyle/diet?

In order to overcome those trigger-reactions, you must acknowledge your conflicting feelings whilst being aware that you have the power to respond to them in a positive or neutral way.

As you explore your inner feelings and past reactions, keep in mind:
You do not have to deprive yourself.
You do not have to be perfect.
You do not have to save the world.
You can not control what other people eat.
You can control what you eat.
You are not limited to only one type of diet.

Once you become aware of your feelings regarding those trouble foods, allow yourself to reclaim your power.

Are you addicted to sugar?
Do you feel guilty every time you eat carbs?
Does eating meat make you doubt your ethics?

In order to reclaim your power, you must surrender your strong emotional, and sometimes physical, ties with that food.
Claim responsibility for what you consume but do not aim for rigid perfection for this is illusory and will only disappoint you.

Do not blame food for your emotions and reactions.

If food is your mother....

Food can be extremely comforting, but some of us turn to food to feel satisfied, safe, and secure.

Using food as a temporary relief for one's issues can become a vicious cycle and addiction.
If you are using food to feel a certain way, you must ask yourself how food is compensating for your lack of fulfillment.

Is food supplementing your social life?
Is eating the most comforting and familiar activity you partake in?
Do you turn to food when you are bored yet unwilling to engage in anything requiring you to step out of your comfort zone?
Do you eat foods that remind you of someone or someplace you have lost but have failed to let go of?

In order to reclaim your personal power, you must find ways to detach from destructive beliefs and unwillingness to leave the past where it belongs.

You do not have to eat food to feel the way you want to feel.
You can not chase external gratification in order to find lasting internal satisfaction.
You must remove the doubt and fear from within yourself and work on those issues instead of hiding behind your eating habits.

This might be scary at first and you will feel very vulnerable, but you can not progress in life without stepping out of your comfort zone.

Food addiction is a serious issue, and it can not be resolved by simply taking away the foods you overindulge yourself in.
Addiction starts from within and must be defeated at its root.

Find that root and reclaim your power.

You can have a great relationship with food.

You can enjoy picking, preparing, cooking, and eating food.
Food can be enjoyed without any guilt, but with total gratefulness.
In part 2, I will explore different ways to find and maintain a fulfilling relationship with food.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to Improve Your Relationship With Your Body: Body Ideals

Your body allows you to enjoy and thrive in this physical world we live in. 
Yet many of us experience a tumultuous relationship with our bodies at some point in our lives. 
Many of us place limiting beliefs on ourselves due to our lack of satisfaction with our physiques. These limiting beliefs create feelings of despair, inferiority, and hate. 
These feelings may cause us to look for validation and approval from entities outside of ourselves, to project our insecurities and ideals onto others, and to choose unhealthy  and unsustainable "fixes" which may culminate into destructive lifestyles. 
In order to have a good relationship with our bodies, we must accept and nurture our bodies.

I must preface this article with my own personal standard-
I do not believe that a healthy relationship with your body can be attained and maintained without proper diet and exercise. I believe that health and fitness can marry with aesthetic ideals to gain satisfaction with your body. Ultimately, I do not think unhealthy excess weight is desirable. This is not an article that promotes loving your body without working on it. If you are looking for validation to allow your self to "love" your body whilst engaging in chronic overindulgence and laziness.

Accepting Our Bodies

The media often aggrandizes the beauty of one body type. 
In reality, people are much too unique to possess only one body type; we all look different. 

Some of us are small boned. Some of us are heavier on top.
We all have different bone size, fat distribution, and limb lengths. We have different waist to hip ratios, upper body to lower body proportions, and different levels of muscle mass.

Accept your body type. Accept the fact that no matter how much you exercise, you will retain your natural body type. This does not mean you are limited to the body you have now, rather, this means that you will never be able to change the shape of your bones and your height.

Over everything else, you have the power to change.

Taking Control of Your Body

With diet and exercise, you can change your body fat percentage and muscle development. 
You can change your body's capabilities and transform yourself into someone who is physically strong/agile/graceful.
These are all personal preferences which you and only you have the power to pursue with your own time, energy, and resources.

Only you can burn your own fat, gain your own weight, and build your own muscle. Do not blame genetics for your unhappiness with your body. Claim all responsibility for your current body composition and know that you have full power over what you do and want to do with your physique.

Why Do You Want Your Dream Body?

Visualize your ideal body type.
Why do you want this body?

When pursuing body recomposition goals, avoid chasing after illusory paths of success.
If you want your body to look a certain way in order to meet the expectation's of others and gain the approval of others, you will always disappoint yourself.

Choose a body type that pleases you.

You Are Not Your Body

Making peace with your body through out all stages of change or maintenance is much easier once you stop over-identifying with your body type.

The stereotypical traits that are subconsciously ingrained into certain body types are merely gross generalizations.
You do not have to be thin and delicate looking to feel vulnerable and feminine.
You do not need voluptuous curves in order to feel sexy and seductive.
You do not need to be tall and athletic looking to be strong.

You define yourself.
You control the way you live.
Keep in mind that the way you live is mirrored in your appearance-
your body is a reflection of your lifestyle.

Although you are not limited by your body,
your body is limited by your choices.

Aim For Health

You will never be able to please everybody with your body type, and you should never have to.
What you look like does not affect anybody else.

Your body affects you.
Allow your body to affect you in a positive way.

Aim for healthiness and inner satisfaction over mass media promoted aesthetics and externally projected false validation.

You are the only one who can accept your self.