Be Light and Healthy

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted on: November 21, 2010

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.”  Meister Eckhart 

It’s that wonderful time of year when we pause and give thanks.  Thanksgiving is a day that we traditionally spend with our families and has the potential to provoke anxiety on many levels. The huge seasonal focus on food sometimes acts as a catalyst for abandoning all healthy habits for the duration of the year with promises of reform when the new year arrives.  In addition, spending time with our families and in traditional settings sometimes creates angst and catapults us back into behavior that we’ve outgrown.  Just because overeating and abandoning exercise were part of your traditions in years past doesn’t mean that you have to repeat these behaviors this year.  Focusing on things we are grateful for and giving thanks can serve as the stimulus for incorporating some healthy changes into our lives.  

When I encounter uncomfortable situations, paying attention to my breathing and pausing for a moment to appreciate the many wonderful aspects of my life calms me.  Food and my body are two things that used to create anxiety in me.  Practicing thankfulness enabled me to cultivate healthy relationships with these two integral parts of my life.  When I was overweight, I had a conflicted relationship with food.  On the one hand, I loved it when I was using it to comfort myself.  However, that love quickly turned to hatred when I experienced the adverse effects of consuming so much unhealthy food.  In addition, I hated my big, bulky body, which was cumbersome to carry around.     

Changing how I thought about food helped me to be thankful for the nourishment it provides.  I used to label foods as good or bad.  Once I labeled a food as bad and forbade myself from eating it, the food had some sort of all-consuming, controlling power over me.  I became obsessed with it, had to have it, and would eat way too much of it since I feared this would be the last time I would allow myself to eat it.  Now I choose to believe there are no bad foods, only bad behaviors.  Yes, there are most definitely unhealthy foods, but there are no forbidden foods.  Thinking this way has allowed me to appreciate food for the sustenance and energy it provides.  By allowing myself to eat anything I want, the desire for banned foods vanishes.  Gradually, over time my choices became healthier and healthier.  I still occasionally eat something I consider unhealthy, but I do it with awareness and enjoy the entire experience.  Often, savoring the food and being aware of how it physically affects me results in losing all desire for it. 

In addition to changing how I thought about food, I learned to trust my body. How could I trust a body that I hated?  One day I realized that my body is awesome.  For years, I had abused her by overeating unhealthy foods and requiring her to lug around extra weight yet she had never forsaken me.  I was incredibly fortunate that I hadn’t experienced any health challenges though I do believe if I had continued down that unhealthy path, failing health was inevitable.  I slowly started to cultivate positive thoughts about my body.  Part of my daily ritual was to write them down in a gratitude journal.  My first inclination was to think of what I detested about my body, but eventually it became easier and easier to be thankful for her.  I was grateful for my internal organs.  They worked great, and I couldn’t see them so I couldn’t judge how attractive they were.  My heart kept on beating without me ever having to think about it.  I could see with my eyes and hear with my ears.  I wasn’t crazy about my arms, but I sure appreciated that I could hug my husband with them.  Little by little, the thankfulness grew and I began wanting to take care of my body by eating healthy food and exercising.  Gradually, I learned to listen to my body, a process that is still evolving to this day.  When you respect and appreciate your body, you naturally begin making healthier food choices and exercising.

I invite you to be realistic during the holidays and consider making some small changes that will keep you moving in the direction of good health.  Be aware of situations or foods that evoke anxiety in you and be thankful for these opportunities for growth.  If you do overindulge, think of it as your own personal experiment.  Instead of putting all your energy into mentally abusing yourself, focus on your breath, get out of your head, and tune into how your body feels.  Consider doing something nice for your body like taking a short walk.  Consistently appreciating and listening to your body will help you learn to trust your body and be thankful for it.  Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving!  In addition, I invite you to sign up for weekly e-mail updates to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.


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Be Light and Healthy

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