Tuesday, May 29, 2007

8 Secrets of the Naturally Slim

Somehow I ended up on the WebMD mailing list, and I usually take a peak when it arrives in my inbox. This week it contained an article from Prevention called 8 Secrets of the Naturally Slim. I was surprised to find that it actually contained some good advice, but it was disappointingly diety in places. So now instead of people learning how the naturally slim eat, they are in danger picking up more diet thinking. So close, but yet still so far off the mark.

Here are the 8 Secrets of the Naturally Slim dissected.

1) They Choose Satisfied Over Stuffed - I have no issue with this point, as it is right on. They even invoke a hunger scale and suggest paying attention to your hunger signals while eating. Hurray! Score one for intuitive eating.

2) They Realize Hunger Isn't An Emergency - Another good point. One thing I learned through intuitive eating is that I had developed a fear of being hungry. I have heard other people say the same thing. I believe that the reason why people who struggle with food often view hunger as an emergency is because we have been on so many diets. We have forced ourselves to go without food when we were hungry. A natural reaction to that would be to fear hunger. I wish the article had said that there was a logical reason for this fear, but alas this wasn’t an intuitive eating article.

3) They Don't Use Food To Cure The Blues – Very true. This is pretty much the crux of emotional eating and the heart of why so many of us have a dysfunctional relationship with food. But their suggestions for how to get past this were too simplistic. They recommended that you try to figure out what your body truly wants and give it that. This is good advice, but it’s not that easy! They gave a one paragraph statement on how not to eat emotionally. That’s not exactly something that can be addressed in one paragraph, and I fear that doing so minimizes the gravity of the issue.

4) They Eat More Fruit – Now this is just stupid. I’m as happy about this one as I am about the advice that everyone should eat breakfast. I don’t like fruit, so I eat very little of it. Instead I load up on vegetables, which I love. If I forced myself to eat the 2-3 servings of fruit a day that they recommended, I would be very unhappy with my diet. I know from experience that making myself eat things I don’t like leads to binging and overeating. Hardly a recipe for being slim! I can’t stand food specific advice.

5) They're Creatures Of Habit – Now this one is even more stupid than the fruit advice. They actually suggested that you eat the same thing every day. They recommended, for instance, that you eat cereal every morning for breakfast and a salad every day for lunch. Now I know a lot of people would be fine with this. My mom happily ate a blt for lunch every day for four years. I, on the other hand, get bored if I eat the same thing for lunch two days in a row. I don’t even want to think about all of the binges I would have if I forced myself to eat the same exact thing every day.

6) They Have A Self-Control Gene – I don’t buy into this one, either. This self-control gene is another term for willpower. It’s a myth that willpower is necessary to be at a healthy weight. Don’t believe me? Try googling “willpower myth.” I know from my own experience that relying on willpower or self-control or whatever you want to call it in an attempt to lose weight is going to backfire. It’s only a matter of time until I crack and head into a binge. The desire to overeat needs to be addressed on an emotional level. This whole willpower/self-control thing is nothing more than diet mentality.

7) They're Movers And Shakers – I can’t argue with this one. Being active is obviously important for one’s health and well being. Although, I wish they had suggested finding an activity that you enjoy rather than emphasizing how many calories you are burning. It is destructive to think of exercise solely in terms of burning calories and losing weight. That’s just not a healthy outlook.

8) They Sleep--Well – I like this one, but I don’t think they should have been so specific about the whole eight hours a night thing. The point is that we shouldn’t be depriving ourselves of sleep. I think it’s good enough to honor your tired signals in the same way that you honor hunger and other natural body signals. Going for a specific amount of sleep regardless of how you are feeling isn’t very intuitive.

And they just had to throw in a quick tip in the end about the importance of eating breakfast. Argh!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Seven Random Facts

I’ve been tagged twice now (by Andrea K and WifeMomChocoholic), so I suppose it’s time for me to take my turn at seven random facts.

1) I have been almost vegetarian for the last six years. I eat seafood once or twice a month, but other than that my diet is completely vegetarian.

2) I got arrested when I was 14 for trying to sneak into Elizabeth Taylor’s birthday party at Disneyland.

3) I hate shopping. I don’t mind grocery shopping so much, but I hate shopping for everything else. My poor mother really wanted to have a daughter so that she could have a shopping buddy. Now she is holding out hope that I will have a daughter who will like to shop with her.

4) I love to travel. International travel is my favorite. I have been to many places throughout Europe, a few places in Asia and last summer I went to Peru. This August my husband and I are going to Italy. I’m really looking forward to it!

5) When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress. I even went to a performing arts high school for my junior and senior years. But then I got burned out and didn’t want to act anymore. I still don’t have any desire to act. I think it’s strange how I have no interest in something after loving it for so many years.

6) It took me seven years to get my bachelor’s degree. School was the source of many battles when I was growing up, and I developed a huge resistance to it. I actually dropped out of college twice. I am really proud of myself for going back, trudging through and getting my degree.

7) I really want to have a baby. My husband isn’t quite ready yet. He wants to finish his master’s degree first, which is logical. We are planning to start trying this winter. I’m so excited!

Now it’s my turn to tag someone, and I’m going to tag…Gemma!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

CE is the Way to Be!

I stole that title from someone who posts on one of my conscious eating forums. I love it! I have been feeling very excited and grateful for conscious eating lately. A couple of days ago I was bored, so I started browsing the Weight Watcher’s message boards. I was both saddened and relieved by what I read. Sad for the posters, but relieved for myself since I am free of all that now.

I read one post from someone who ate lunch at a work function. She thought she had done so well, but when she journaled what she ate she realized that she had no points left for dinner. I am so thankful that I never again have to worry about not having any points left for dinner.

I read another post from someone who was so proud of herself because she resisted buying a candy bar. She was at the store with her husband, and he bought some candy. She really wanted to be “bad” and buy some too, but she resisted. I am so happy that I never again have to feel proud of myself for resisting food. Instead, I can feel proud of myself for things that actually matter in life, and food can be just food. I love that! It’s just food! I don’t have to get depressed or worked up over whether or not I ate something. I am forever free to buy any food I want because I am free from trigger foods or red lights foods or whatever you want to call them.

And, as usual, there were a whole slew of posts from people who are recommitting to Weight Watchers. People who had fallen off the wagon and were ready to climb back on. I will never again have to wake up in the morning guilt ridden and tell myself that I will start over yet again. I am so excited that I will never have to go on another diet EVER! I feel so free!

Two days ago Oprah had the update show for Bob Greene’s Best Life Weight Loss Challenge. I missed the previous shows about it because at that point I did not want to watch anything about dieting. But this time I was intrigued, so I watched. I was impressed with how they talked a lot about feelings and why they overeat in the first place. You don’t see that very often in diet plans, and it’s so important. However, I truly believe that dieting is in direct conflict with learning how to feel your emotions and getting past emotional eating. I don’t have a whole lot of confidence that the people on the show will experience lasting weight loss. I hope I’m wrong, but what else could I think based on the well-documented failure of all diets?

I was especially struck by something at the end of the show. One of the diet challengers had only lost six pounds, which was much less than all of the others. She said that this was because she had expected the diet to fit in with her life. She said that she now realized that she needed to change to fit the diet. If you ask me, she had it right the first time! Then Oprah gave her the following advice, “You can never eat anything you want.” Really Oprah? I only eat anything I want!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Breakfast - The Most Important Meal of the Day?

Over the last couple of months I have discovered that I don’t need breakfast. I find that I pretty much never get hungry until lunchtime. This should come as no surprise to me, but somehow it does. Back when I was a kid and still a normal eater, I never wanted breakfast. My mom would make it for me every morning, but I would mostly pick at it and eat no more than a bite or two. But when I grew up and stopped being a normal eater, I started eating breakfast. I think this is largely due to the fact that pretty much every diet tells you to eat breakfast. There seems to be this belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, maybe it is for people who get hungry in the morning, but it’s not for me! I have spent the last ten years eating breakfast just because I thought I was supposed to. It’s so nice to just throw that whole idea out, and eat when my body actually wants food.

I decided to search the web to see if I could find any support for skipping breakfast.

I found this on a UK website called Weight Loss Resources. “Skipping breakfast can mean your body will start to crave something sweet and you'll end up snacking on unhealthy foods.” I have skipped breakfast almost every day for over two months now. Not once did I start craving sweets or end up snacking on “unhealthy” food. In fact, it’s pretty rare for me to snack at all. I find that I’m usually just not hungry between meals. Incidentally, I wasn’t much of a snacker during my normal eating childhood, either.

A website called Revolution Health had this quote, “A great deal of research shows that those people who eat breakfast are more likely to weigh less than those people who skip breakfast.” Really? Obviously I wasn’t part of any of those studies! I didn’t start gaining weight until I started eating breakfast. I’m not saying that eating breakfast caused me to gain weight. I started gaining weight because I fell into the diet cycle, and I stopped listening to my body’s natural cues. One of those cues was that I am not usually hungry in the morning.

Most of the stuff I read seemed to be written under the assumption that everyone is hungry for breakfast. I agree that skipping breakfast if you are hungry is a bad idea. But what if someone isn’t hungry? Should she eat breakfast anyway? I only found one website that addressed this issue. Dr. Kendall from Colorado State University recommended the following, “Food that early doesn't set well with you, or you're not hungry in the morning? Start with something light, such as a glass of milk or fruit juice and lightly buttered toast or a small piece of fruit such as a banana.” Basically, don’t listen to your body because it’s obviously wrong. Eat whether or not you are hungry.

The answer is no. Apparently there isn’t any support online for skipping breakfast, so I will have to say it here.

There is nothing wrong with skipping breakfast. In fact, it is a good idea to skip breakfast if you aren’t hungry.

There. I said it. I don’t care if every so-called “expert” disagrees with me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Is Intuitive Eating Just Another Diet?

It can be. I spent my first two months of this journey treating intuitive eating like just another diet. I know I am not alone on this one. I have read many posts on several different forums from people who are obviously approaching intuitive eating in the same way one would approach a diet. It makes sense that people do this. For most of us the only way we have ever approached changing our eating habits is to diet. As a result, the diet mentality is fully ingrained in us. I decided to post about my experience with treating intuitive eating like a diet in the hopes that it may help others navigate through this common obstacle.

I was beyond excited when I first learned about intuitive eating. I rushed out and bought Breaking Free from Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth, and I devoured it. I had never heard of this non-dieting approach before. I dived in headfirst and lost ten pounds in two months, which is about the same rate I lost weight when I was following Weight Watchers very closely. Then I hit a wall. I just couldn’t do it anymore, and I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. Wasn’t intuitive eating the solution to all of my food related problems? I have since realized where I went wrong. I was approaching intuitive eating in the same way that I have approached every diet I have ever been on.

I was using Geneen Roth's eating guidelines like a set of rules. I was religious about following them, much in the same way I had been religious about counting points when I was on Weight Watchers. I approached her hunger scale in the same way. Every time I ate, I would check in with the hunger scale every few bites. I had to make sure that I never ate past satisfaction! I had to make sure that I was eating intuitively correctly at all times because I really wanted it to work for me.

I was also very excited about intuitive eating. I still am but in a totally different way. My excitement at first was the same excitement I felt every time I started a new diet. I felt like finally I had found that magic pill. This time I was going to be able to lose the weight and keep it off forever. Incidentally, I was ignoring one very important piece of advice from Geneen Roth. I was still weighing myself almost every day. I couldn’t see the harm in it. I was losing weight! Wouldn’t weighing myself just motivate me to continue with intuitive eating?

I never messed up. I ate intuitively perfectly for almost two months. That's how I typically am when I start a new diet. On my last stint with Weight Watchers, I never went over my points for even one day for the first four months. I have been deeply entrenched in the all or nothing diet mentality for a long time. In my first two months of intuitive eating, I was completely oblivious to this fact. When I started to not be able to eat intuitively every time I ate, I started to feel guilty that I couldn’t stick to it. I started to feel like a failure. I found myself binging and overeating more and more often. Sound familiar? I was following intuitive eating, but I was still firmly entrenched in the diet cycle.

If you are worried that you might be using intuitive eating like a diet, there are a few questions you can ask yourself. Think back to how you felt when starting new diets in the past. How do they compare to how you feel about intuitive eating? Is your approach the same or is it different? What about that all or nothing diet mentality? When you overeat or eat when you aren’t hungry, what goes through your head? Do you feel guilty? Guilt is a telltale sign that you are wrapped up in diet thinking.

What do you do if you realize that you are treating intuitive eating like diet? First, I would like to say congratulations! You have just taken a major step in your intuitive eating journey just by realizing that. Everyone is different, so this is a very individual process. I can share what has helped me move out of the diet cycle.

I don't care about eating intuitively perfectly anymore. If I overeat or eat when I'm not hungry, I don't get mad at myself. When I start to think about a time I "messed up," I immediately think about the last time I ate intuitively. I focus on the positive, not the negative.

I have also realized that I eat as a way to avoid emotions, so I have been working on letting myself feel my emotions and getting comfortable with them. I never thought that I ate for emotional reasons because I thought I was eating out of boredom most of the time. I have since discovered that eating out of boredom is a form of emotional eating. I was turning to food because I wasn't comfortable just being with myself. Eating was a way for me to prevent the emotions from coming up at all.

I am active in online intuitive eating communities. This has been an essential part of my journey. I am fairly certain that I would have given up after those first two months if I hadn’t had the support and advice from other people who were further along on the intuitive eating path.

I know this doesn’t apply to all intuitive eaters. I have read blog posts from people who have been doing this for only a few weeks, obviously really understand intuitive eating and are clearly moving out of the diet cycle. Maybe you are one of those people. Or maybe you are like me. It doesn’t really matter either way. The only thing that matters is that you recognize where you are at and move through this process in whichever way is best for you.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Getting Unstuck

Up until a couple of months ago, I found myself completely incapable of eating intuitively. I was still caught up in that all or nothing, perfectionist, diet mentality. I had managed to completely renounce dieting, so this meant that I was overeating and/or binging every day for months. I didn’t know how to eat intuitively, and I was beginning to wonder if I would ever be able to.

Then something changed. I was flying to Orlando for business, and I wanted something to preoccupy me on the long flight. I downloaded a new audio CD I had purchased called “Getting Unstuck” by Pema Chodron onto my iPod. Halfway through the recording, I had the biggest light bulb moment I have had in my whole intuitive eating journey. I suddenly “got it.”

In “Getting Unstuck,” Pema Chodron teaches on a Tibetan Buddhist concept called shenpa. There is no clear definition for the word shenpa. It is basically that hooked feeling we get, that sticky feeling, that urge to scratch. For some of us it is the urge to drink or the urge to shop or the urge to gamble. For me it is the urge to eat. On this recording Chodron teaches how to stop the scratching. Here’s an edited down version of the excerpt that changed the course of intuitive eating for me.

“So there’s this practice that some of you have done with me, or do on your own, which is called one in the beginning and one in the end. And what this is is when you wake up in the morning, you make your aspiration for the day or aspirations… And one at the end is at the end of the day you look back over. This is the part that is so loaded for people like ourselves because looking back over you go into despair mode about what a failure you are.

So when
Dzigar Kongtrul teaches about this, he always says, for me when I see that I connected with my aspiration even briefly once during the whole day, I feel a sense of rejoicing…And when I see that I blew it, lost it completely, I rejoice that I have capacity to see that…What is it after all that sees that we blew it? It’s your own wisdom. It’s your own insight. It’s your own prajna [wisdom]. Couldn’t we just have the aspiration to identify with the wisdom that sees that we said a mean word or that we drank when we said we wouldn’t drink or whatever it is? The wisdom that sees that? That we identify more and more with this prajna or this wisdom aspect of our being instead of always identifying with the failure that’s being seen. When I see that I didn’t live up to it, that I blew it, I rejoice that I have that ability to see.

So this is a very, very important point you see, and again hopefully I say this to get us into the spirit of delighting in seeing rather than despairing in seeing… Letting seeing build confidence rather than cause us to go into a depression and feel discouraged and hopeless. This is the point that he makes over and over again in his teachings. Being able to acknowledge the shenpa, being able to see the shenpa, that is the doorway to freedom…Then if we can do the next step of refraining from going down the road, which sometimes we’ll be able to do and sometimes we won’t be able to do depending on the strength of the shenpa. We should rejoice that sometimes we have that ability to interrupt the momentum of the shenpa. And we should rejoice that we even had the aspiration to acknowledge and to refrain. And we should expect relapses…You know, five steps forward, five steps back. Five steps forward, four and a half steps back. Yay!”

I suddenly knew why I couldn’t eat intuitively. I was always focusing on my failures. At the end of every day, I would look back at how many times I overate and how many times I ate when I wasn’t hungry. I was going about this whole intuitive eating thing all wrong. I needed to focus on my successes, not my failures. Every night when I went to bed instead of remembering all of the times I overate or binged, I would be much better off focusing on all of the times I ate intuitively and all of the times I was conscious of what I was doing.

So that’s what I did. Every time I thought about a time when I overate, I pushed that thought out of my head and thought of the last time or last few times that I chose not to eat when I wasn’t hungry. I no longer allowed myself to think about my “failures.”

All of a sudden I was able to eat intuitively. Not all of the time but sometimes. At first I ate intuitively once every couple of days. As time went on I was doing it more and more. Here I am a couple months later, and I’m eating intuitively most of the time. Amazing!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Take Action Challenge

I was blog surfing yesterday, and came across the Take Action Challenge on Christine Kane’s blog. I instantly realized that this is something that could really help me. I have been struggling with taking action in regards to conscious living. I have spent countless hours learning about it. I have read books on the topic and listened to even more audio books. I listen to audio books about living consciously every day on my commute to and from work. I have spent hours sitting in my meditation room reading or listening to mindfulness books. My favorite teachers are Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle, and Marianne Williamson. I have been listening to them for months, so I am very clear on what conscious living is all about.

I can’t seem to take the next step and put what I have learned into practice. My meditation room is really only a reading room. It’s nice to have a peaceful place to read, but that is not what I envisioned for that space. I envisioned a place where I could meditate and practice yoga, a place where I could move into conscious living.

While reading Christine Kane’s blog, I stumbled upon a reference she made to morning pages. Basically, the point of morning pages is to spend 20 or 30 minutes every morning writing everything that comes to your mind. This sounded like a good tool for me to live more consciously, so I wrote my first morning pages today. Much to my surprise, after 20 minutes of writing I discovered why I have been feeling so blocked when it comes to putting conscious living into practice. I am afraid of what direction my life will go if I allow myself to live consciously.

I have a great job. I make a lot of money. I get a lot of vacation time. I don’t have to work long hours. I have a lot of freedom at work. But I also have this nagging feeling that this isn’t where I’m supposed to be. I started working here immediately after I lost my father. I was in a period of profound grief, which probably isn’t the best time to choose a life-long career. This job was the obvious choice. It was the easy choice. But was it the best choice? I’m worried that it might not have been.

Also, my husband and I recently bought a very expensive house. (We live in Los Angeles where all homes are exorbitantly expensive.) We both love the house and hope to live in it for the rest of our lives. If I left my great paying job, that wouldn’t happen. We would have to move. Every time I have tried to express my dissatisfaction with my job, my husband freaks out. He doesn’t want to move. I really can't blame him. I would probably freak out if I were him, too.

On top of that, I don’t think I even want to live in Los Angeles. There is so much concrete here. Too many rushed, stressed out people. Too many cars. Too much traffic. Any time we go on vacation to a beautiful woodsy less populated area, I find myself wondering why I don’t live there. I want to be surrounded by trees. I want to live with nature, not endless concrete.

If I allow myself to live consciously, I will be forced to pay attention to what I truly want in life. I won’t be able to stuff it down and ignore it anymore. The truth is I don’t even know what I want. I haven’t even let myself go there. I have a copy of Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck. This book is supposed to help you figure out what to do with your life, what your true calling is. I have picked it up several times over the last year or so, but I can’t get past chapter three.

I have decided to do Christine Kane’s Take Action Challenge. I am committing to do at least one thing every day to become more conscious. In practical terms that means that I will either meditate or do yoga. It’s scary to think about the changes that living consciously may bring, but I want to live consciously because I know that is the only way to have a meaningful life.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Conscious Eating Works! Really!

Throughout the course of my conscious eating / conscious living journey I have noticed that a lot of people are very skeptical. I often hear something like, “If I ate intuitively, I would eat nothing but chocolate and gain at least 100 pounds.” Guess what? It doesn’t work that way. That’s not to say that conscious eating is easy. It's not. I have gone through a lot of self-doubt worrying that I am doing it wrong, even worrying that I am not capable of doing it at all. Here is an excerpt from a post I made on a conscious eating forum on November 1, 2006 after I had been doing this for four months.

“I have stopped CE [conscious eating]. I eat without paying attention. Sometimes I am hungry when I start eating and sometimes I’m not. I almost never pay attention to how hungry I am after I start eating. It’s like I just got tired of thinking about it…My pants are feeling tighter, and I’m feeling out of control.”

What I didn’t realize at the time is that I hadn’t stopped. It’s true that I wasn’t eating intuitively most of the time, but I was still on the conscious eating / conscious living journey. What I know now -but didn’t know then- is that conscious eating isn’t a way out for those with food issues. It’s a way through. I was expecting to be able to just eat intuitively naturally. Wrong! It doesn’t work that way. I had to start by taking the judgment and guilt out of overeating. Then I had to work on why I wanted to eat when I wasn’t hungry. I had to learn to be comfortable with feeling my emotions so that I wouldn’t feel the need to stuff them back down with food.

I still have work to do, but I have come a long way since that post last November. I still occasionally eat when I am not hungry, but it’s happening less and less. I am becoming more and more comfortable feeling my emotions.

I weighed myself last Friday. I haven’t weighed myself since -I think- January. At that time I had gained ten pounds since beginning this journey the previous July. [Note: Weight gain is normal and expected when someone starts intuitive or conscious eating. Please refer to my introductory post for more information.] After I stopped weighing myself my clothes got a little tighter, so I think I probably gained about five more pounds. Over the last few weeks I have noticed that my clothes have been getting looser, and the scale was beckoning me. Much to my surprise, I have lost all of the weight I put on when I first started. I weigh almost exactly what I did in the beginning. My body is now gradually moving to its natural weight.

However, I must note that one of the main reasons I have lost weight is because I haven’t been weighing myself. I have been focusing on living consciously and having a normal relationship with food. I have not been focused on losing weight. That is an essential part of conscious eating. I know that if I want to stay out of the diet cycle, I am going to have to stay off the scale.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Power of Now

Last December I had been practicing intuitive eating for five months. My focus was 100% on the food, and as a result I was struggling. I have been posting on a thread called Conscious Eating/Conscious Living almost since the beginning of my journey. I didn’t understand why the thread founders decided to call it that. I thought it would have made more sense to call it Intuitive Eating. I didn’t get why they used the word conscious, and I really didn’t get the concept of conscious living. What did that mean, and how was it relevant to intuitive eating?

Then the answer to my question literally fell into my lap. My husband and I moved into our new house at the end of last November. We had a heck of a time getting telephone and internet service. I won’t go into the details, but the phone company was giving us the run around. I spent at least an hour a day talking to various phone company employees, but no one was able to help us. I became very angry over the whole situation. I would rant and rave to anyone who would listen.

This dragged on for about two weeks when The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle arrived in the mail. I was participating in an online secret gift exchange, and my secret person had sent it to me. No doubt it had something to do with all of the angry posts I had posted on the message board about my phone company dealings. I had no idea what this book was about, but I decided to read it anyway. I have never liked to read, but I had no other way to pass the time since we didn’t have phone or internet service. The satellite dish hadn’t been installed yet either, so TV wasn’t an option. That book was literally the only thing around to help me pass the time, so I read it.

I was instantly mesmerized. I read it in two days. Then I rushed out and bought the audio version. I proceeded to listen to it about six more times over the next couple of months. The Power of Now says nothing about conscious eating, but I finally got it. I understood why that thread is called Conscious Eating/Conscious Living. I understood that conscious living is really what this is all about. Conscious eating is just one aspect of conscious living.

This all started to hit me when I got to the part of the book in which Tolle writes about how nothing exists outside of the now. Here is an excerpt.

“Have you ever experienced, done, thought, or felt anything outside the Now? Do you think you ever will? Is it possible for anything to happen or be outside the Now? The answer is obvious, is it not?

Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now.

Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.

What you think of as the past is a memory trace, stored in the mind, of a former Now. When you remember the past, you reactivate a memory trace – and you do so now. The future is an imagined Now, a projection of the mind. When the future comes, it comes as the Now. When you think about the future, you do it now. Past and future obviously have no reality of their own. Just as the moon has no lights of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are past and future only pale reflections of the light, power, and reality of the eternal present. Their reality is ‘borrowed’ from the Now”

If you have ever studied Buddhism or other such teachings, this excerpt probably won’t be as shocking to you as it was to me. But I had never heard anything like this before. I have since heard and read a lot of stuff about being present in the moment. Was I living under a rock before? I think the truth is that I wasn’t ready for that message yet. And the second I was, all of these events unfolded in perfect sequence to bring it to me. Amazing!

I realized that my problems with the phone company weren’t important. I was letting this outside drama interfere with my life. My life is what is happening right now. It has nothing to do with what the phone company failed to do in the past or may or may not do in the future. All that was a distraction from the Now, which is the only thing that really matters. The Now is the true essence of life.

And living in the now is also the key to intuitive eating. By living in the now, by living consciously, I am able to eat consciously. By being present in the moment, I feel my emotions as they come up. In the past, an uncomfortable feeling would often have me running to the fridge. Usually I wouldn’t even realize that was why I was eating. But when I am living consciously, I am conscious of what I am doing. I can’t run from my emotions anymore because I know they are there. I know exactly what I am doing.

So this is why I say that there is no conscious eating without conscious living.