The Magic of Beginnings (First Step… The Breakup)
As cliche as it may be these days, inevitably it is true that every journey first begins with the first step. We all have one. That moment of excited panic, knowing that yes, you will try, but will you succeed? It happens in all aspects of our lives. A new job, a new town, a new relationship, or even an entirely new lifestyle. It comes down to being brave enough to say “I am leaving something behind, and trusting that there is something better.” When it comes to your health, a lot of people have an incredibly hard time trusting that first step. Food is something that is part of us. Every bit of us, literally and figuratively. Food is the building blocks of our bodies. Without the proper nutrients, our bodies will very literally crumble from within us, leaving us with ailments that we often choose to live with because we do not recognize the cause. But food is more than sustenance. It is a culture. It’s an emotion. We use it to express sadness and anger, and also joy and love. Food makes us feel something, and for that reason, we often choose the foods that are emotionally beneficial, but not necessarily physically beneficial. And when we are told that we need to alter that expression, it scares us. We become so attached to the idea that food is our emotional outlet, that the idea of changing that portal makes us revolt. Trust me, I know.
For a long, long time I only knew how to deal with my emotions with food. Gloomy day? Cheesy bagels and creamy soup from Panera. Stressful week? Raw cookie dough and wine. Long night of work ahead? Candy… bags of it. Someone’s birthday to celebrate? Out to eat with friends. For every emotional state, there was a corresponding food. So giving up those things was not just hard, it was impossible to understand. How do I make it through my day without my food crutch? But slowly I started to realize that those foods that were aiding me emotionally were hurting me physically, manifesting in chronic illness and slowly but surely chipping away at my body’s foundation and function. Then one night, I got tired of it. And I took a leap of faith; I decided to make a lifestyle change. And as much as I would like to say I’ve never looked back, that would be a lie. It’s like a breakup, really. You know you’re better without them, but every once in a while you think back to how great they made you feel at the time and are tempted to regress. Instead, you have to think about what brought you to the breakup in the first place, and convince yourself that you made the right choice. Over and over again. After all, it’s an emotional attachment.
The good news is this: Once you make that first step, you’ll know it was the right choice, at least when it comes to your physical health. Mentally, you will feel better because you know you’re heading in a better direction. Physically, you will feel better because your body is getting what it needs to build itself back into a healthier state. And eventually, emotionally you will feel better and more stable too, because the choices you are making are now for yourself and for your body, not for a passing state of emotion.
However, beware. Because of our emotional reaction to food, people will see what you’re doing and it will scare them. They will try to push you back to your old ways, because they feel guilty about not changing themselves. It’s easier to try to get you back into your old habits than for them to accept the fact that they need to adopt some new ones. Misery loves company. So expect that while there will be many, many people excited that you are making changes to better yourself, there will inevitably those who tell you why you shouldn’t make those changes. Be strong. Seek out those who support you. Find your daily inspiration to keep going. And do not stop. This is your life, it’s time you started living it… Freely, and naturally.