photo by Will Johnson
I have my first wellness workshop coming up this week and I finally decided what topic to discuss — food.
More specifically, I want to address many of the disordered relationships with food, my own included, and why we need to learn to embrace the gray and not neatly place foods in certain “bad” or “good” categories. We all know how I feel about labeling.
I’m still working on the points I want to emphasize and crossing my fingers that people will join in the discussion so I’m not left rambling about donuts or puppies for 45 minutes, but in thinking about it I realized every significant change in my life has come from one place — I’d had enough.
Whether my enough was losing everything I had or just realizing I lacked the mental energy to dedicate to how many grams of sugar a square of chocolate had, I always reached a point where I was done with whatever was making my life unmanageable.
It doesn’t have to be as giant as addiction. Even small habit changes have been made by mentally exhausting myself. I was tired of the way I made myself feel whenever I procrastinated. I told myself that everyone else gets things done early and that I was a failure for waiting until the deadline. The truth is, I always get things done and I work most efficiently when I have limited time. I had enough with trying to force myself to operate a way I wasn’t designed to operate.
Behavioral changes are tough because they’re a very individual thing. This is why you can’t force an alcoholic to stop drinking and why losing weight can be particularly hard for some people. Often these types of changes require taking the time to stop and look — really look — at yourself as a person. How you’re living. How you’re feeling.
This type of introspection can be difficult and not everyone is ready to admit that a change needs to be made. Maybe you know it does but the thought of making it is too hard so you stay comfortable where you are, continuing whatever behavior you want to change.
photo by Will Johnson
My struggle with reaching out and helping others is that there isn’t always a quantifiable way to know if you’ve actually helped. Before I was ready to turn things around, I dismissed every suggestion and opinion that came my way. Even if I had wanted to hear, I couldn’t listen.
Despite every shred of self-doubt that I experience before writing or speaking about my experience, I know that the only thing I can do is just that — share. I can talk about what worked for me and continue to live my life in a way that reflects the changes I’ve made and continue to make. Hopefully someone can take something away from that, but in reality the power lies with you.
In order to live your best life, my suggestion is to figure out what that means for you. Not what social media tells you it is or what your girlfriends are doing, but what feels right for you.
To do that, you’re going to have to spend some time with yourself.
Think about what you want. What you need. What makes you happy. What makes you sad. You may have never done this before, and I didn’t until I was 27 years old.
It takes time and it takes some fine-tuning, but finding what you will and won’t tolerate makes it easier for you to figure out where your enough is. I had literally no concept of my own identity as a person for most of my 20s, which is what allowed me to put up with so much, treat myself the way that I did, and allow others to treat me the way that they did.
The more you know and love yourself, the lower your threshold for discomfort. The more you respect yourself, the less likely you are to continue behaviors that cause you harm.
I’m not saying that you’ll live life perfectly in an abundance of happiness, but you’ll be better equipped to understand what behaviors are destructive and what you need to do to change them. You’ll be less likely to berate yourself for eating dessert or skipping a workout.
Bigger picture, you’ll understand that there’s only one life and you’re in control of how you live it.