Saturday, January 11, 2020

Dedication Health -- a pause, in retrospect

[Aug 8, 2019]

In my fiftieth year, I may have finally learned how my body and I can get along with food, even thrive with food, in both healthy sustenance and the delights of indulgence. Better late than not at all, I figure, and yet I’m lamentably amused too. Only when I turned fifty? Really?

No blame, no shame, no harm, no foul to all those who nourished me the best they knew how in my younger years. None of that even for myself, in my five decades of trying to nourish myself. Yet I am saddened and a little angry to have unknown for so long…a primal facet of being human in a body and I simply didn’t know what I didn’t know… Argh.

And…We live in a time of information-gorge, which can often mean misleading information and unending debates aboutinformation. The movement into responsive action oninformation faces internal and external resistance hard for a person to overcome. How do you know whom to trust? Is the challenge of lifestyle change worth it if you don’t know who to trust? When new information emerges, how do we welcome it? Test it? Be communal and collaborative, yet also wise and savvy to our era? Debates in the information-stage canend, of course, but in our media-soaked environments, it’s usually from exhaustion in the struggle to dominate the discussion with the most compelling or persuasive information. The one who perseveres and disregards the most feelings, the quieter or lesser-known or accessible voices, wins. 

Here, I’ll stand with the Buddhists and say another ‘end’ to the debates is simply to learn from your own body and your own experience. Explore multiple perspectives and learn from those teachers who come into your path, in those invitations that seem to have energy for you. This is not an age to trust the authorities, because there are simply too many of them and they disagree with one another. Even wisdom texts, I’ll say, like scripture or daily sources many of us used to trust, like the evening news. No. Let all that go. Learn from your own experience, felt-senses in your own body. And to be clear, this is not a journey toward orthorexia, as a recent Washington Post Op-Ed piece named it—the only one right way to eat. But it is an invitation toward a skillset with food that offers you the most inner peace, food-freedom, and healthy well-being. 

Learning only from your own body, your body as primary teacher, means you hold a lot of paradox in a socially complicated world, of course. You can live with beloveds whose body experience differs from yours, which then requires you to honor his/her choices just as they are. For instance, my husband loves a muffin each morning with his coffee. I used to confuse our intimate connection time in the morning with having to partake of that too.  So I did, even though my body didn’t really like how I felt afterwards and it set my energies on edge mid-morning. I’ve learned now I don’t need to partake in order to spend present time with him when he has his muffin and coffee. I feel better with just my decaf coffee. He enjoys his experience of dark coffee and a sweet of some kind. We stay more truly connected because I’m not ignoring my body’s teachings for me and he’s staying with what he chooses. 

The only way I know how to stay with inner transformation of any kind is to find a community that will hold space for me to ‘try on their worldview’ for a time all the while listening to my own experience. To enact lifestyle or habit-belief-worldview change on my own rarely succeeds, or if it does, it rarely stays steady amidst the social and relational pressures to conform to the group-mind/worldview. So as soon as I heard about Dedication Health with my local CrossFit gym, CrossFit Dedication, I knew I wanted to enter into the journey of 'nutrition re-education' and 'supportable-supportive health learning.' I wanted to know ‘what they know’ and see what my body would teach me as I learned from their experience, but in my own experience.

Not even ten weeks later, I finally feel like I know how to feed and be in my body in a way that offers me inner peace and raucous amusement. Even though I'm fifty and a late-bloomer here. :) The choices I know to make now for myself offer me a steadiness of presence and enjoyment, free of fear of too much or too little. And significant for me and my own spiritual journey, it weaves me into a circle-esque community practicing becoming more and more conscious of the world we live in, the choices that are easy to make and those that are more difficult to make…but better and worth it for peace, body-health, and general well-being. I like to be with people like that, even if I don’t agree with or understand everything they say or do. Their practice speaks more loudly of the values I want to see more of in the world: just get better, whatever that may mean for you. Learn where you are and be with people who support you. Listen to your body. Cheer on those around you to be their best selves. Stay active and rest when you need to. Laugh…a lot. Bring your best self to the world. Who doesn’t want to be around that luscious kind of energy?

[In experience, in my family...? Most folks who are scared of or have been formed to shame their own bodies and those who are rightfully fearful of judgment by our culture for how we’ve not known about our bodies.(Another post for another time…)]

So…People come into this DH journey for a variety of reasons, of course. Some are exhausted from dieting and the frustrations of weight loss/gain cycles. Some are facing chronic conditions of heart-disease or pre-diabetic/Type2 diabetes challenges. Some are well-established athletes with good habits, but who want to focus on the latest in nutrition research and upping their workout-performance. True to form, my own intentions were internal and largely psychological, emotional…Part II...

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