Life By Design Not Default

One of the reasons I have been reluctant to write about nutrition has to do with what I suspect is at the root of why many of us play small and tiptoe around what we know best – shame. 

Shame prevented nutrition improvement

I was ashamed of my history of anorexia and trauma. That nagging little voice in my head, some might call imposter syndrome. However, I just called it annoying, kept asking, “Who are you to tell people about what’s good for them? What if you hurt someone? What if you’re totally full of it? Have you forgotten how totally fucked up you got with food?”

The nagging persisted and nearly won. I had a series of revelations that occurred in conjunction with my yoga practice and trauma recovery work. As I restored my body to its healthiest state and delved deeper into various healing modalities, I grew stronger. So did another voice that had long been silenced by dis-ease. It’s a voice to call my own, and I have learned to trust it more than anything else, along with my faith. It’s a voice free from shame and stories. We all have it.

Rediscovering confidence

For me rediscovering that voice went hand in hand with rebuilding my confidence. These are vital elements we contain as humans, and it’s why diseases that affect our mental health like addiction and eating disorders are so profoundly destructive. They steer you to a place that strips you of all that is light, leaving you to wonder how the hell you got there. It becomes nearly impossible to trust yourself again.

If you can’t trust yourself, confidence erodes. It is absolutely possible to reclaim that self-trust and confidence. I know because I did it. With considerable effort and acceptance that I would have many stumbles along the way, I committed wholeheartedly to my own healing and transformation.

To say I came back from the precipice of death with my eating disorder and the consequent depression and anxiety is no understatement. Though I had become someone, I didn’t even recognize my voice. It had faded to barely a whisper. 

Choosing victory over poor nutrition

I could hear it pleading with me not to give up. Now, I was so ready to call it quits on my life that my response was nothing triumphant. I am not sure why so many come-to-Jesus moments happen on cold hard bathroom floors at ungodly hours in a pool of tears, but there I was in all my bathroom breakdown glory. 

Finally, I heard my voice and what I am sure was God at the same time.

I probably told it to shut up. I was dying to do it, and I wanted to feel sorry for myself. She pushed. At some point, I stopped crying and simply said, “OK.” There was no blaze of glory followed by a montage in which I energetically got my shit together along with snazzy new outfits. It was, “OK. I’ll try.” 

The truth is, I didn’t really want to die. Although I was not yet sure if I really wanted to live, I could see that I did not want to live as anorexic, depressed, and anxious. I wanted to live on my terms. That’s what we all want – life on our terms, so I said, “OK.”

Life by design, not default

As I said, no montage. Life by design, not default, is not always pretty, but it can become beautiful. It was about a year of restoring my weight and the frequent bouts of refeeding syndrome that all but sequestered me to my apartment. I had pushed away everyone and everything I loved, so it was lonely. 

I had become too sick to work, so I was broke. There was not an affordable treatment for my age and stage. All of this occurred against the backdrop of divorce. I was the embodiment of the Hot Mess Express. 

Unsurprisingly no one wanted aboard. Lifetime could have a field day with the mess my life had become. The reason I share all of this is not that I like to dwell on it. It is because I did a ton of work, did not give up, and now my life is such a far cry from that place it is unrecognizable. 

A new beginning

I have happy, uplifting relationships, a business, a career. My mind and body have never felt better. I’m enrolled at Harvard(!), and I’m once again the kind of mother I set out to be. 

Sometimes I feel so blessed I could burst. I share because I learned a lot, and my hope is that anyone reading this who is or has ever been in a dark place knows there is light and life on the other side. Don’t buy into the bullshit that you’re broken and messed up beyond love or repair. Fix it! Do not quit on yourself. Ever.

There is light and dark in everything. Duality exists in all life. Embrace it. I indeed walked in a very dark place with my eating disorder. Before that dark place existed, it’s also true to be genuinely loved and fascinated by food and helping people. Believe in the good in yourself.

Once I made a choice to stop believing the nagging voice, I thanked it. This is enormously healing, and I strongly encourage it. Thank your darkness! I promise this is not the southern Miss Manners in me emerging. It’s real, and it works. 

You can even write a letter to your darkness if that feels more cathartic. It will look different for everyone. Maybe for you, it’s alcohol, drugs, binging, overworking, or that person whom you know is not suitable for you. Still, you keep going back to it because you’re both hurting. 

Be proud of your past

Whatever it looks like, look it square in the eye and say thank you, shake its hand, give it a hug, then kindly show it to the door. You have a life to live. Feeling ashamed and playing small have no place in your life. Change your story.

Many of us vow time and again to change cold turkey. “This time will be different !” we proclaim. Inevitably the darkness edges in again. Until you learn to make peace with your past and thank the things you’d once admonished in yourself, that dark place holds the keys to your light. 

When I did this with food and nutrition, I realized as clear as day that I could help people with nutrition and transformation. My passion in this area ran deep. My compassion and understanding of food and mental health struggles ran deeper. 

I had a vast store of knowledge and myriad experiences archived from years and years of work, recovery, and research. Saving, working my butt off, putting myself through nutrition school, and yoga training helped rediscover my confidence and power, which then allowed me to trust myself to go after what I wanted. 

Without the darkness casting shadows over my vision, what I wanted became crystal clear. The hard work will never stop, but it is worth it. What is holding you back? What can you thank? Instead of asking, “Who am I…?” ask “”Who can I become? Who do I want to be?” Instead of “What if I hurt someone?” ask, “How can I help someone?”. Now go have fun finding the answers!

Let’s chat about your nutrition!

If you need help with your discovery and being honest with your past, or moving past it to a better future, please contact me and we will get you started on a new health and nutrition journey!

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