Delusions, Hormones and Untrue Stories
|"I feel like such a heifer. I had two bowls of special K, three pieces of turkey bacon, a handful of popcorn, five peanut butter M&M's, and like, three pieces of licorice."|
"Do you want to know your body fat percentage?"
I've been walking past the sign at my work for weeks. On Friday one of the trainers and I had some coinciding downtime and I asked him if he would evaluate mine. He moved around my body, pinching areas of skin with an instrument that felt so reminiscent of a piercing gun that I couldn't help but flinch. After inputting his findings into an online form, he printed out the results, dramatically circling a series of numbers. "This is how much your vital organs, bones and blood weigh. You need all those things. This is how much fat you have. You need all but 2-4% of that. Right now you're athletic. You could lose maaaayyyybe a few pounds but any more than that and you'll cease to be healthy."
Sheepishly, I told him how I was recently considering purchasing diet pills from LifeBooker. He shook his head violently, "No no, that would be terrible. Terrible! Don't do that." I hadn't. Instead I had opted to try cutting gluten out of my diet. Much to my dismay, I've watched and felt my body change. Turns out that it's much happier without gluten in it. What I needed was a change in diet, not diet pills. Pasta, bread, cupcakes...why you gotta do me like that?
The way that I look at my body has changed in a matter of days. As much as I love hippie feel good talk, I'm a rationalist at heart and having a professional tell me that I need all but 2-4% of my fat was a revolution. As a body professional, I understand the importance of (healthy) fat to essential body functions. And since I love myself and want to do right by my body, any crazy diet pill thoughts have been put to rest. I had a light bulb moment: "Oh I need that fat! Oh okay! Of course. That makes sense." I'll still go to the gym every other day and do yoga in between, but I'm doing so for preventative maintenance, not weight loss. Because, apparently, I don't need to lose weight, and this sadly seems to be news to me.
This is the power of unchecked personal stories. From time to time we have to review the things we believe to be true, the Gospel According to You based on your powerfully influential experience. You may find that as you grow, change and have new experiences that your old stories are no longer relevant or applicable. There was a point at which I had weight to lose but that time has gone. In order to remain healthy, I have to learn a new story in which my weight and body composition are athletic, and the fat I have is friendly, helpful and, above all else, completely vital. I have to live with it, can't live without it.
Speaking of harboring stories so outdated they turn into delusions, I have a cautionary update to my last post. Awhile back I developed a craving in my body for something my mind had already disregarded as "dysfunctional." Because I wanted it so badly with every cell of my being, I chose to interpret this feeling as a mystic, cosmic sign that it was meant to be. Of course I know better than this. I have had cravings for and obsessions with all kinds of things and most of them have been neither cosmic nor mystic. Most of them were downright unhealthy to get or even to think about at length. Still, all wise experience aside, I allowed my whole body to begin humming with desire. Bzzzzzz! Want want want want!
After about a week of this, I tuckered myself out and the desire began to wane. I was too busy to spend all my waking moments and some of my sleeping ones thinking about this. I had to let it go. And I did, mostly, until the exact same time a month later. See, during this time my friend Rebecca turned me on to an app, The Hormone Horoscope, whose daily notes have made me acutely aware of what's happening hormonally in my body. To my utter astonishment, I realized that this intense, supposedly cosmic craving I was having wasn't cosmic at all, but hormonal. I had asserted so firmly, with so much conviction, that this was my destiny. It turns out that my hormones really did make me do it!
Of course, I don't know conclusively that this dysfunctional thing which my hormones occasionally demand is not my destiny...but that's beside the point. The point it, I've allowed myself to listen to my body to the point of allowing delusion to reign.
Unless you're being stridently honest with yourself, this "right feeling" that you're having might not be telling the complete truth. Even though we're in our own heads, it's still surprisingly easy to lie to ourselves. I look at my own body in the mirror every single day but I don't see athletic even though I'm told that that's what's there. I know that this thing I want is dysfunctional but I tell myself my desire for it proves how "cosmic" it is, instead of proof that I need to go to therapy more.
If you find a desire in your body for something your mind has rejected, allow this to set off an alarm in your head. Similarly, if you believe something about yourself and people who you trust and respect are contradicting your belief, allow that to give you pause. The Ego weaves wide webs, bent on keeping us uncomfortably, cozily trapped in the same stories forever. Bring your stories and ideas and beliefs to the people you trust and respect and ask them to fact check for you. You may suddenly realize that the way you've been thinking about money or relationships or your body does not line up to reality and has been limiting the way you live your life. In this realization, you are freed to write a new story, based on how things are today, right now.
Our stories are meant to evolve as we do, and we are meant to...personally and collectively, long before you and I arrived and on and on until the sun explodes and burns our ancestors up if there's anyone left here to burn. Beyond delusions and hormones, we each have a truth that we're continually unveiling as we evolve with grace and clarity into who we already are. You cannot evolve while living in your old stories. They are an ill-fitting skin that you are meant to shed. Find them out and shake them off. Free yourself to live the happy, fulfilled, blessed life that is your birthright. You are so much more than you were. Grow up and out of it. It's time for a rewrite.
"Let go or be dragged." -Zen proverb