Thursday, May 27, 2010
"Through Thick and Thin" Kicks Off, "Women, Food and God" Weekly Support Group
May 12th, 2010 will go down as a very pivotal moment in history for the non-diet movement. It was on this day that Oprah had Geneen Roth on her show to discuss her new book, "Women, Food and God". Many of us have been waiting for Oprah to pick up the baton and spread the message to the global community as only she can. As I watched the interview, it felt like a victory for all of us.
I'm glad that Oprah has decided to give up her battle of the bulge and instead learn how to deeply care for herself. This was quite a leap in her rather public struggle. I know it took a great deal of courage, self-reflection, and honesty for her to come out and announce to the world at large that she will never diet again.
I enjoyed the show very much. I do wish that Geneen had more of the floor. I feel that Oprah did most of the talking and I really wanted to hear more of what Geneen had to say. Talking to many other people who saw this interview I have come to discover that this was the general consensus. I also was disappointed that the show did seem to have overtones of the diet mentality peppered throughout. Hey, I get it. Americans want to see results. It's all about the numbers. However, images of before and after shots seemed to run completely counterintuitive to the message that was being shared. It reminded me of something very pertinent that Linda Bacon said in her book, "Health at Every Size". I'm paraphrasing here, but quintessentially Linda expressed that intuitive eating approached like a diet is nothing more than a diet. I couldn't agree with her more.
With splashy images of now thin women who had used the approach outlined in Geneen's books and workshops, the general message conveyed was, "Follow this path and you too can be skinny. You can have the body you've always wanted." Sadly, I feel this does a great disservice. I would have appreciated a more well-rounded view of what this process really entails.
I heard no discussion whatsoever about the anxiety that is encountered when making the choice to never diet again. The illusion was painted that this is a seamless transition free of complication. Those of us who have spent any length of time using this approach know that it is anything but. I heard nothing of the struggle, the confusion, the emotional upheaval, or the fact that where your body chooses to happily settle may not even be in the ballpark of the fantasy view you covet of your body's natural size.
This is not a quick fix. It is the road less traveled and a long, winding road at that. However, despite the ups and downs, it is worth every step taken on the road back to you. That's what we are doing here. We are finding our way back to ourselves... our sacred selves. We are excavating our authentic life. A life that has become buried under the rubble of food and body obsession. Food and body obsession has served as a distraction in our lives. It has prevented us from feeling our emotions, owning our truth, being in contact with our true needs, and discovering the source of our passion and purpose. This is a process of reclaiming. If you think it has anything to do with the size of your dress or the silly little number on a scale, you are missing the point... big time.
Of course we all desire to be our best self. We all want health and vitality but this reality is never obtained by fixating on our weight, stepping on the scale each morning, or having our lives amount to nothing more than the pursuit of thinness. Ironically, health and well-being become the natural result when you nurture self-love and respect. When you have high regard for yourself, you want to take the very best care of you. There is no need for coercion. No dangling carrot that needs to be chased after. When you accept yourself through and through in this moment, you move from reacting, to responding. Reaction is based in fear and response in love. When you get up each morning and greet the day with excitement for the possibilities that lie ahead, you are responding. When you can look at your reflection in the mirror and smile because you know that in this moment, you are more than enough, in fact, you are quite wonderful... you are responding. When you feed your body nourishing foods and move in a way that infuses your life with pleasure and fun, you are responding. Love is the movement and from this momentum all self-care takes root and flourishes.
Diets are based on reaction. You feel crappy about yourself and your life so you react by blaming your body for all of your woes rather than tuning in and feeling out what is really going on. You feel there is no meaning and purpose in your life. Instead of getting in touch with this sense of lack and gaining understanding into your needs and how they can be met, you cling to the illusion that if you only weighed 20 lbs. less everything in your life would be perfect. It's not that carrying around a lot of excess physical baggage can't compromise your sense of wellness. As Geneen Roth states in, "Women, Food and God", if the size of your body has created a scenario where your entire life revolves around your sense of limitation, it's time to think of taking better care of yourself. If you are huffing and puffing to get up a flight of stairs, if you can't tie your own shoes, if getting up out of a chair takes a monumental effort, it is time to consider how well you are showing up for yourself. But... even in these cases, focusing on the weight will not free you from your gilded cage because you never get to the heart of the matter. You never really figure out the ways your current behavior is serving you. That emptiness inside never gets addressed and you remain in a self-perpetuating cycle of abuse. Moving toward self-love, respect, and acceptance is the path to freedom.
Despite my disappointment with certain aspects of the interview, every time that Geneen spoke I hung on every word. I was so moved by Geneen's offerings that I promptly went out that very evening and purchased a copy of, "Women, Food and God". It was the best $16.48 I ever spent. I devoured the book in a day and a half and actually felt sad when I reached the final page. Every single word in that book rang true as if it was written upon my heart. Every word on each page could have been spoken from my own lips.
This was one of those books that came to me at the perfect time in my life. Much of the information contained in its pages had begun to formulate in my mind over the past few months. For this reason, I found it an extremely validating read. I also gained some incredible insights about myself. Things that had flown under my radar and escaped my knowing but were such a pivotal part of my recovery process.
I attend weekly ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) meetings. I call, "Women, Food and God" my portable support group because much of the information was familiar to me. We work with a lot of the techniques Geneen covers in my ANAD group. As a result, this book has been a tremendous source of support for me.
I also think that Geneen addresses a lot of topics that frequently come up on any intuitively-based path. I feel this is an extremely important read for everyone struggling with food and body image issues, no matter your history. I also think it contains a wealth of information for those who have never had to contend with such issues. There is wisdom in this book for everyone.
"Through Thick and Thin", our sister community, has decided to launch a, "Women, Food and God" support group. Beginning in June 2010, this group will meet weekly at the, "Through Thick and Thin" community forum...
The intention is to work, as a group, chapter by chapter through Geneen's book. Each week will feature a chapter and focus discussion. There will also be opportunity for individuals to discuss challenges they may be facing with this approach so they can gain the support they need. Questions will also be welcomed... encouraged even. Additionally, each week will have a group exercise that can be done in between meetings in order to embody the path in each of our lives, making it more real.
This group is open to anyone who is interested. Don't let the title of the book fool you. Men are more than welcomed to participate. This book has a lot to offer the fellas too. Meetings will take place every Thursday throughout the day beginning June 3rd. There is no need to check in at any specific time. The discussion will be on-going throughout the day. Pop in as your schedule allows and contribute to the conversation. We look forward to sharing this experience with each and every one of you.
You can obtain a copy of Geneen Roth's, "Women, Food and God" by following this link...
Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything