Sunday, October 05, 2003
The Soul of Weight Loss
posted by Julie |
Putting your spirit into it
I'm busy reading Anne Fletcher's Thin for Life. I know, I know, I'm the last person on the planet to read it. And I'll write more about it soon. But here's one thing Anne reports over and over again in the book: People who are successful at losing weight and keeping it off find their own way to do it. They make it personal. They make it make sense within their real own lives.
That is, they may learn a lot from various prescriptive diets and diet programs, learn from their trials and errors, but their eventual success arrives when they develop and define a weight loss and maintenance way of eating of their very own. A philosophy, a set of habits, a pattern that works for them.
I get mail. I get great mail. And a lot of it includes stories from people who have lost a great deal of weight. Their methods and conclusions range far and wide. There is so much wisdom, and so much individuality. I hear from a lot of people who find a connection between their spiritual lives, their creative core, and their health.
When Janice wrote, I knew I'd have to move over and let her share her story. She's an artist, a self-made spirit with a great sense of humor and a bottomless creative drive who found a way to put her creative impulses to work to lose weight. During her effort, she gave birth to a new deity: Our Lady of Weight Loss. It's one of the most unusual stories I've ever heard. Here's Janice:
It was only three short years ago that I was 50 pounds overweight and literally dragging myself through life, wearing orthotics and huffin' and a puffin' every time I climbed a set of stairs (a New York City subway thing).
I've had a weight problem from day one! I was the lone baby in the hospital nursery to gain. I was a chubby child; I was an overweight teen. I was an adult yo-yo'er. From every fad diet to every diet pill, I tried them all. Like many of us, I've lost and gained enough weight to make at least 10 people.
I think it a mysterious phenomenon when people commit to changing their lives; when the 'a-ha' truly clicks in. For me, the numbers on the 'Scales of Injustice' were on the rise once again, with elastic-band pants stretched to capacity. I finally decided to take action.
What would make this time different from the others? It was clear that an internal shift had to take place in order for me to lose the weight and then keep those unwanted pounds off. I wondered what aspects of 'me' might help reinforce the 'new me.' How could I change my relationship with food? How could I neutralize the power I have given to food? How could I experience myself as a thin person?
The proverbial light bulb lit. (Another mysterious occurrence. Where do ideas come from? Somewhere far above, another universe?) While we all need to eat in a healthy manner, many of us eat for emotional reasons, well past hunger. When I felt anxious, sad, lonely, happy, angry - whenever I felt anything, it was my practice to reach for food. Feeling equals eating.
As an artist, I thought that I would create art about food, body image, fashion (I wanted to imagine myself in my new look), and I would throw in a prayer or two when I felt alone or in need of support beyond the human plane (perhaps a higher power would come to my aid).
Instead of trying to soothe myself with a piece of cake, I sewed myself a piece. Instead of viewing vegetables as bland and feeling deprived, I made sexy vegetable collages. Not only did it keep my hands busy (hard to eat with paint and glue on them), it gave me a moment to separate myself from 'feeling equals food,' and ask myself "Hey, what's really going on here. What am I feeling? What am I needing?"
That's when Our Lady of Weight Loss entered the picture. More often than not, Our Lady answered my questions. (Another mystifying occurrence. Perhaps there is a higher power, a God, a higher-self, the 'good' Mother who lives within each of us, or I just happen to have a wild imagination.)
Within a year, I had lost 50 pounds of unwanted weight and gained 50 pieces of art. An exchange, of sorts, fat for art! I created my website (www.ourladyofweightloss.com).
Janice has been busy since creating her site and her works. She's got a book deal in the works, a newsletter, speaks at women's groups and fields press inquiries on her artwork and her products, which she offers for sale on her site. Her greeting cards are terrific, the veggie seductions spectacular, the images of Our Lady in her various weight loss glorifications are inspiring.
As a little Catholic girl myself, I find the melding of images not at all offensive, but enormously comforting, and can see they've been created by a generous heart, full of humor and hope.
The idea of turning to making stuff to cope with emotional eating is a refreshing and fantastic one. To make something substantial, something other than extra fat from all that energy? Brilliant.
And you? What is your own way? What is it that your soul needs? Are you interested in working on both your spiritual needs and your physical needs at the same time? Can one feed the other?
Norris Chumley would say yes. His "Joy of Weight Loss" helps you connect your spiritual and physical lives regardless of your religion. Maybe worth a peek?
I'm just asking,
Janice's Our Lady of Weight Loss
Beliefnet's Health and Healing Site
Norris Chumley's Joy of Weight Loss
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