I was barely 21. I looked around the artist’s SoHo loft I had inherited for another month from my boyfriend. I hung up the phone unceremoniously dumped me and just stared at the giant oil painting of a very depressed-looking, emaciated child in a striped shirt. Why anyone would want that to dominate their home is beyond me. Then I started weeping so loudly, the police banged on my door. I had moved to NYC from the sheltering south without my family’s permission or support and I felt utterly alone.
While other models/actors used some form of drug to stay unnaturally thin, I used Diet Coke (arguably a drug). I didn’t want to turn to alcohol or drugs to numb my pain so I turned to Tofutti (remember that?). What I wanted was love and arms to hold me; what I got was an impersonal, cold, sweet taste and then no taste at all but simply a devoutly to be wished numbing out. The second I put down the spoon I then had the pain of judging myself but that was a seemingly lesser pain then the heartbreak. Of course, doing this only drove my pain temporarily underground where it did push-ups and got stronger until I would finally face it.
I gained five to seven pounds. I was put up on a stage to be evaluated for a swimsuit calendar for my agency, Elite Models. My belly was pinched, I was called a cow, and I was put on suspension from the agency for whom I’d done an entire year of ‘go sees’ to pave the way for ‘petite (short) models. All this while I was still well within a healthy weight range.
And that didn’t even start my obsession to be thin-it started at 13 when I was an Olympic hopeful as an equestrian, and I was told that if my thighs were thinner, the horse would look better…
For years I tortured myself with ‘last suppers’ before the inevitable harsh diet to come. I definitely had body dysmorphia. Thank goodness I never had a full-blown eating disorder but WAY too much of my consciousness went to whether I was thin or not. Fortunately, 33 years ago, I found John-Rogers’s Body Balance program which was a systematic way to return to natural eating. For three decades, I studied, and took workshops on mindful or intuitive eating and thinness from J-R, Chozen Bays, Judy Wardell, Geneen Roth, Buddhist Monks…so many masters had keys for me. I refined their techniques and made them my own.
The main thing that worked for me was to continuously, over two and a half decades, learn to eat mindfully, and here’s a big one: to learn to let love pull me forward into natural eating and fitness instead of allowing judgment to push me. It’s all about applying kindness when we don’t think we deserve it, even right in the middle of a binge! To learn to love our bodies as they are now and to also be willing to slowly, lovingly shift our habits to be more in alignment with health is a lifelong process. Doing so can be substantially sped up with specific techniques. To really observe our eating and to make it a spiritual exercise is a beautiful thing.
25 years ago, when I was just learning this and applying these principles. I sat down to eat without my usual book or TV or even talking to anyone. I focused all my attention on what I was doing. My roommate at the time said, “Watching you eat is like a meditation.” Considering that my eating habits had resembled a python (maybe a baby python but still…), I took this as great progress.
I am very much a work in progress, but so grateful to be in a much better place, through the ups and downs of major metabolism change, menopause. I will still eat while I’m driving which is just crazy, or fantasize about the newest diet when I see a friend who’s dropped a lot of weight or hear about the latest health craze and the supposed miracles abounding from it. And yes, I DO take the counsel of others – I just do my best to observe all of it, and go within and see what my body wants. I observe others exhibiting great discipline as they do intermittent fasting, eat Keto do HCG etc. etc. and I know they are not for me-what is, is doing the only diet there is which is…love.
For me, it’s all about tuning into the body and the basic self. I’ve heard it said many times that J-R said the number one underutilized thing for health is working with the basic self. While I’m grateful to nutritionists, doctors etc. I try to remember the ultimate authority on my body is Spirit, my basic self, and my intuition, if I would but go deeply within and ask.
I am giving a talk in a few days, live and online, to introduce this concept of using kindness, the basic self, and intuition to achieve and maintain a body weight ideal for us, not necessarily according to any outer standards, but according to us, and to love our body along the way, not just when we get to some ideal weight. Please join me for Eating Love, live next Sunday, July 14th, in person in Newbury Park or online (you can always watch the archives later if you can’t join that day)
My prayer is that our few hours together might plant seeds within you that will bloom into greater loving kindness so that your living temple might more reflect the beauty of your consciousness.