I was about to stuff the little cinnamon-filled pastry in my mouth when I realized I was longing for hunger. It was now January 2nd and for weeks my diet had been supplemented with enough sugar, butter, white flour, and chocolate to kill a Billy goat. After 2 months of food padded with hunger-killing calories, I longed to return to a place of balance where hunger was as predictable as political bickering. What a surprise! It happens every January, yet I was caught off guard by the need to feel the familiar rhythm of fuel—hunger—and fuel again. Instead, those sporadic prompts of hunger felt muted, as if the message was sent from behind a closed door. I wanted a good, hard, totally-empty kind of message. Furthermore, because of the glut of saturated treats, when I did eat I only needed a few bites before feeling less-than-satisfied. No happy contented sighs. I missed the fulfillment of being empty and then fueling with the exact food I needed to arrive at a feeling of bliss—having truly been fed.
Freedom from body issues means enjoying correct balance throughout the year (on average). Balance is the result of moving through all seasons and a majority of the time getting exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. Over the course of twelve months we can be in balance most of the time. Balance doesn’t mean living like a monk during the holidays and turning up our noses to Bundt cake and Jell-O mold with puritanical restraint. If the Holidays present a departure from the norm…OK. The norm is the defining feature, not the occasional chunk of fudge. Getting back to “the norm” comes from “thin thinking.” If you want to live forever without a body battle, think like a thin person. In other words, have the conversations with your body that a thin person—free of weight issues—has with their body. When you are done with Holiday food, thank the stars: you are getting a clear message. This is a good thing, not to be ruined with guilt or self-hate. Simply acknowledge the prompt to eat cleaner, lighter, more high-value food (in the correct portion after working up a true appetite). You might need to wait longer between meals and transition to snacks with greater fuel value, such as berries or vegetables. You might also need to resume activity at a level of fitness that matches your abilities. Cold months tend to entice us to sit more and move less. Intentionally move. Truth: This return to a place of balance is the thinking of thin people. They get sick of junk food and long for a salad, or lentils, or fish, or fruit, or broccoli, or olive oil. Moving in that direction consistently after fruitcake, ham, and eggnog allows us to become defined over time by our average or normal behaviors. Not the treats we know and love.
Be kind and gentle with yourself. Don’t allow guilt to take you out of “thin thinking” and into the realm of “fat thinking.” Acknowledge all body messages with gratitude and enjoy all seasons. Now, please pass the arugula.