Choosing to Not Return to the Burning Barn

During a recent gathering of great minds who help me keep perspective, one of my closest friends shared an intriguing observation.  If you remove cattle from a burning barn, they have to be restrained in a safe location or they will return to the burning building.  Why? Because they associate the barn with safety.  Even though the barn is no longer safe, their instinctual brains are driving them back to what they associate with comfort.

When I first heard this account, my mouth dropped open and I stared blankly.  The group thought that I was worried about the cows.  I wasn’t thinking about cattle.  I was thinking about how often I have returned to unhealthy behaviors because they are associated with comfort in my instinctual mind.  Somewhere along the line, ice cream, chocolate and milk gave me comfort.  Somewhere, I got the idea that life is about suffering and hard work.  My rational mind thinks that’s insane but my cow brain still desires to go back to the burning barn.

I started to think about how many people I have watched go back to their burning barns.  Addictions of various forms: food, money, sex, work, religion, exercise…  All of those things can be harmful in the extreme (in either direction… too little or too much).

I am practicing living in the moment, here and now.  Feeling my feelings as they happen, being in control of my actions but not which emotions I let myself feel.  It gives way to spontaneous tears, incredible joy and occasional anxiety.  But, you know what?  I’m still here!  My feelings aren’t fatal but continuing to go back to the burning barn is.


My Body Is Designed To Be Healthy

Watching “Hungry for Change” on Netflix, wearing clothing that could not clash more, I realized why I never lost the last 8lbs I “wanted” to lose.  The author of “The Gabriel Method” said, “You will not lose weight if your body does not want to.”.

Speaker after speaker in the documentary described better living by working with nature and natural laws.  One person said, ‘As long as you are taking in more toxins than you are eliminating, your body will not allow you get rid of the weight that is keeping you safe from the toxins you are ingesting.’  Whoa… say what?!  

Another said as you seek to improve your health, you will want to ADD vegetables and fruits instead of taking out food groups.  Not because they are “low calorie” but because they are so full of nutrients (I knew they were high in nutrients but the motivation was they were ‘low calorie’ and ‘high chew’).  I heard over and over again, “Most people are overfed and under nourished.”  I’ve come a long way… I really have, but I have so much further to go.  I traded one type of processed food for another.  Out candy bars and muffins, in protein bars and protein powder.

A nutrition counselor and friend posted on her company Facebook page a challenge to go “whole foods only” for one full day.  Do you know my response?  I commented, “tomorrow”.

That was several weeks ago and I have yet to actually do it. The biggest lesson of marathon training for me has been learning that when something feels impossible, it’s not, it’s just bigger than anything you’ve done before.  My 4 year anniversary of weightloss is coming up in just over a week.  Days are getting colder and the year is coming to an end.  Those circumstances make me reflect on where I’ve been and where I want to go.

Other sage advice from “Hungry for Change”:  It’s not just what you’re eating, it’s what’s eating you.  Obesity is a “solution” to dealing with stress. Look at where you are not satisfied. If you are upset, don’t eat.

Easier said than done.

Exercise increases the feel good hormones that I’ve previously gone to sugar for.   Hence why when I have not been running, I sign up for over 5 races… in 2 weeks.  Just like other drugs, I end up needing more and more to feel the same “feel good” effect.

My body is not my enemy, it is my friend.  Loving myself is the key.  My parents want to love me, they just don’t know how.  If I am honest with myself, I have maintained the size I am now on a roller coaster of healthy and unhealthy eating.  I have not trusted myself.  I have not truly let go of the concept I am a “fat person” who lost weight.  As if my true self is meant to be fat and I have to fight it every day.

Jon Gabriel described losing 10, gaining 15 (reminding me of my losing 3, gaining 5 a few times over).  I read part of his book many years ago, in a previous life, and remembered thinking “I don’t have time to visualize in a quiet space”.  I have the ability to do better about that now. I do!

In closing, the documentary recommended 3 questions to ask before eating:

Where does my food come from?

What went into my food? (attitude, spirit, process)

What is my intention of eating my food?

My body is designed to be healthy.  I can trust it and I can build its trust in me.

I am ready for the next phase of my journey and I accept myself unconditionally, right now.


From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

3 years ago today…

Food is my drug of choice.  I can pass on beer, wine, liquors, smokes, no problem.  Ice cream, fries, rice krispie treats (especially the ones with chocolate on top or M&Ms inside), Mike&Ike, Starburst, that’s a different story…

Three years ago today, like an alcoholic recording day 1 of sobriety, I recorded day 1 of my own “food coma sobriety”.  I’d been working a recovery program for about 3 years, was in a great relationship (Still am, thanks, God!), work stress was high but more manageable than it had been, I was starting to worry less about my son…  My sister in law had posted a candid photo of me in an orange and brown flowered dress on Facebook.  I knew what the scale said but I didn’t know I looked like THAT!  I knew I was abusing my body by overeating and also knew that with JUST portion control, it was possible to lose weight (my cat had).  In my journal, I recorded June 4, 2009 as the day I stopped overeating.

Every year since, I have taken time to revisit how far I’ve come, thank God for giving me strength and tools to succeed and celebrating my accomplishments on the anniversary of that day.

This morning, I spent some time reading journal entries from 2004 (first year of recovery journey) and the summer of 2009 (early stages of sustained weight loss).  Common themes back then were self hatred, anger, fear and failure.  Reading some of the entries still brings a heavy feeling in my chest and tightness in my throat.  I was in so much pain.  So conflicted.  So lonely.  So ashamed.  I’m so grateful to have survived all that!

If you are in that place now, I hope my experience gives you encouragement.  You CAN CHANGE!  You DESERVE to be healthy!  Success isn’t just for other people, it’s for you too.

I reached a healthy weight by November 2009 and have maintained that weight within 7lbs since that time.  I am not perfect.  I have eaten more than I need on several days in the past 3 years but not consistently.  I get off track; I get back on track.  I refuse to beat myself up about what I’ve done in the past.  Every minute is a fresh start, a chance to make a better choice.

My philosophy is I workout to live, I don’t live to workout.  I aim to eat more healthy than unhealthy.  I like me.  I accept me…wrinkles and stretch marks too.  I’m not without faults and I’ve stopped trying so hard to be.  I want to keep being a better person.  Tomorrow, I aim to make better choices than I did today.  My best at this moment is enough.

I still see a professional, certified, trainer 1-2 times a month.  I might not forever but I still need the accountability.  I need someone to reach out to for advice that I trust and is educated.  The way I see it, personal trainer bills are cheaper than doctor/medication bills from continuing down a self-destructive path.   The fear of weight coming back is getting less intense although I aim to keep where I have been fresh enough I don’t get over confident and lose my way.

From my heart to yours,

thanks for reading