cancer

Healing Your Body

maui1

 “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Recently I read an article that I posted to my Facebook group, and I wanted to write a little bit about it here, too. Here is that link: 5 Words to Heal Your Relationship with Your Body.

“I am enough.”

There’s a difference between striving to improve yourself, and beating yourself up for not being perfect. I fall into this trap sometimes. Sure I want to better myself, I want to lose weight, I want to be fitter and stronger and so on and so on…but at what point is it enough to just BE?

In the past 6 months I’ve been trying to lose some weight that I gained, was a little successful and had some setbacks, and numerous times I’ve had people ask me “what if this is just where your body is naturally?” I’ve pondered this and while I am not discounting that, I do think I can lose a little bit more. The hard part is trying to decide when to stop criticizing myself and when to accept that this is it.

Compassion.

I am definitely NOT compassionate to myself. Others, yes, myself, rarely. Over the years I’ve learned to back off with the gym if my body isn’t feel right. 7 years ago? I would have powered through whatever I was feeling and ignored the cues my body was giving me and beat myself up if I had to take a break. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s having enough injuries over the years that I’ve gotten better at taking an unplanned day (or week) off if my body needs it. It’s hard having compassion for yourself.

The other component of being compassionate is to silence that negative voice in your head (we all have it). Some days that voice in my head is a lot louder than other days. Recently that negative voice was very loud when I was trying on my summer clothes from last year. Having to buy a bunch of new clothes was discouraging and I beat myself up about it for days. Was that helpful? No. But turning that voice off can be such a struggle sometimes.

Positive reinforcement word Compassion engrained in a rock
Positive reinforcement word Compassion engrained in a rock

Gratitude.

This was a hard lesson to learn but I’ve learned it. I think what really taught me this lesson was injury. I used to take my fitness level for granted. I’d forgotten how hard I’d worked to get there. It’s not like I went from 250+ to athlete overnight — IT TOOK TIME and EFFORT. And yet I still forgot how hard I worked to get there.

When I suffered from Runner’s Knee it changed my life and my outlook on things. It was very discouraging and depressing and it was the longest injury I’ve ever had. Two years. Two years of specialists, physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga, X-rays and MRIs. Nothing sucks more than not knowing from day to day, or even hour to hour, if your body was going to work right. What helped heal me was going to the Warrior Room. It got me back to running and I was never more grateful or happy in my life. I worked hard to get back to being able to run without pain and I do NOT take running for granted anymore. Even if I can only run 1 mile, it’s something and it’s better than nothing and I am glad for it.

 Gratitude

 

At some point, life needs to be about more than the number on the scale. It should be about living life, spending time with loved ones and enjoying things every day.

A friend was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and the first thing I thought about with the news was that nothing else really matters in the big picture: just relationships and loving life. Not measuring your food religiously every day, or going to the gym to slog through a workout you aren’t feeling, or stressing about stupid shit…

Going on a road trip with a friend and sharing the memories; sharing an amazing dessert with your spouse on your anniversary; cuddling with your fur-babies on a lazy Sunday morning; sitting on the deck on a hot summer night listening to the frogs chirp and just relaxing. These are the things that matter, not being a size 6 in jeans. It’s a shame it often takes something serious or tragic to remind ourselves of what really matters.

This is work I need to do on myself. Love myself more. Be more kind to myself. Be more understanding. Accept where I currently am. It’s okay to want more and to want to be better, but not okay to belittle myself because I’m not there yet.

Hope everyone read the article and found something in it that spoke to them, too.

A Big Mouthful of Poison

Let me preface this post with a warning: there will most likely be ranting involved. Let me also say that it might also sound hypocritical because I lost my weight by eating “diet” food (i.e. processed junk).

Did anyone see the 60 Minutes piece on the “Flavorists” recently? It was about a company called Givaudan, the largest flavoring company in the world. They opened their doors to 60 Minutes and shared their secrets. Secrets that made my stomach turn. Secrets that I had NO idea about. (Read the transcripts here.) You can also watch a small clip of it here.

I hadn’t heard of this company, Givaudan, until I watched the show. Sure in the back of my mind I knew processed food was bad and engineering food was worse. However, it’s easy to ignore these things in your normal day-to-day life.

“Food companies know that flavor is what makes repeat customers. So they commission Givaudan to create what they hope will be a mouthwatering taste. Givaudan may be the biggest multinational you’ve never heard of. The Swiss company employs almost 9,000 people in 45 countries, providing tastiness to just about every cuisine imaginable.”

While I was watching this piece on 60 Minutes, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a company create a cancer epidemic. Of course this is based on nothing because I’m not a doctor, but I find it hard to dismiss the fact that eating a bunch of chemicals could lead to cancer. Seeing how they manufactured “chicken flavoring” was nauseating and it honestly just looked like poison to me.  It makes me wonder about these “flavors” and whether they are tested on lab rats? Is there information out there about the effects on the lab rats?

“It makes you want to eat this again, and again, again, okay? It’s like sex, okay? You know, you want to do it over and over again until you get a headache.”

“Ground zero for the food and flavor industry is the supermarket. Givaudan won’t reveal which brands contain their flavors, but in this aisle, almost every product on the shelves has been enhanced artificially or with so-called natural flavors. And not only that, virtually everything edible in a package, in a jar, or in a can is intensified with either fat, sugar or salt… or, all three of those little devils.”.

 

Dr. David Kessler, former head of the FDA, asked: “We’re eating fat on fat on sugar on fat with flavor. And much of what we’re eating with these flavors, you have to ask yourself, ‘is it really food?'” GOOD QUESTION. Is it really food? The flavors are false, manufactured. That “natural chicken soup” flavor in your soup is a creation, not really chicken. Dr. Kessler went on to say “We’re living in a food carnival. These flavors are so stimulating, they hijack our brain.”

Do they hijack our brain? Are we a nation of obese people because the food we’ve been eating has these manufactured elements in them that make us addicted to them? So we eat more? The Vice President of Givaudan went on the defense and said  “Our business is to make taste experiences pleasurable ones. So, I don’t think that the flavors create an overeating problem. I think that’s a different issue.”

Hmmm, easy cop-out if you ask me. Although, I don’t think placing all the blame on the food industry is the way to go. Sure I can blame McDonald’s and Burgerville for my obesity but is it REALLY their fault for providing fattening food? No. I drove myself there. I made the bad decision to overeat all the time and not exercise. Sure they enabled that behavior by making the food taste so good but I wouldn’t blame them. It was all on me.

At the same time I am highly disturbed by Givaudan manipulating all food with chemicals. During the 60 Minutes piece all I felt was disgust. Disgust in myself for eating processed food, disgust in myself for not really caring where my food came from. Sure my transformation from a processed-food junkie to a newbie-foodie has enriched my life but I still eat a LOT of processed food. And these “flavorists” have their hands in everything. The soup I eat. The salad dressing I like. The diet soda I drink. It’s even in WHISKEY.

I turned to Michael when the show was over, feeling very overwhelmed and discouraged and said “God, it’s in everything. There are no safe foods.” 

You think eating fruits and veggies would be the answer–but produce has been assaulted as well! Produce is probably genetically engineered. Just take a look at how huge everything is now. The tomatoes I grew in my garden this summer were small, sweet and perfect. They also didn’t last very long. The produce I buy in the store is big, less flavorful and lasts for much too long before going bad.

Who knew I’d want to become one of those types that wanted to grow all my own food and never eat processed, store bought food…I try to limit my processed food intake. I eat less frozen meals, I avoid soy products the best I can. I try and go by Michael’s rule of looking at ingredients and not buying stuff that I can’t pronounce. Am I becoming one of those people that want to live on a farm where I eat only my own food and meat from my farm? I have to admit, the idea is very appealing after watching this show.

QUESTION: Did you see the piece? What are your thoughts on it?