Week 1: Slow Down and Breathe

Slow Down and Breathe

Week 1: Relaxation

Welcome to the first week of my “8 Weeks in the Woods” series. My family has made it to Michigan and we’re living the dream. We’re also sharing a cabin that was recently inhabited by mice and cockroaches; but the way I look at it, they’re part of our beautiful world, too. Just slow down and breathe, I say to myself!

So what does week 1 entail? I’m following Marc David’s approach to changing my relationship with food by incorporating mind, body, and spirit into my eating experiences. Marc prescribes an 8-week process, which is just perfect for my 8 weeks up at camp.

Week 1 is all about RELAXATION. I encourage you to read The Slow Down Diet for all the details, but here are the high-level points I’ve been keeping in mind this week:

  • We were not meant to consume food while in the “flight or fight” zone–and we don’t metabolize there, either. Eating slowly is simply better for metabolism. It allows us to experience the food’s flavor and texture and allows our brains and bellies to sync up more efficiently and actually do the job of digestion. Indeed, I’m often rushing to get through meals for one reason or another, and I’m sure I’m pumping cortisol into my blood stream instead of properly digesting my food. Not healthy.
  • Give yourself the gift of vitamin T (that’s time!). I have to consciously remind myself that I don’t need to multi-task eating, for crying out loud. Eating is a critical life function and it deserves my attention.
  • We need oxygen to digest food. It fuels fires, after all, and aren’t we all calorie-burning machines?! So breathe…take deep breaths…ah, there…and give your body plenty of oxygen while eating. The act of breathing deeply also slows our heart rate and helps put us into a relaxed state.

I get it. Slow down and breathe because it’s better for my mind, body, and spirit! That’s what I’m supposed to work on this week. But I won’t get anywhere long-term if I don’t address my sticking points. This is where the healing is!

So Here’s the Good Stuff
When it comes to eating, rarely have I ever wanted to slow down and breathe. That’s because, for me, eating is a stressful and emotionally complex activity. Not every singe time I eat, of course, but as a general rule–even if I’m really enjoying a particular food, or maybe especially if I’m enjoying a particular food–I want it over with. (Maybe you’ve regarded sex or exercise this way? Even time with loved ones or friends?)

Slowing down and breathing basically forces me to face the enemy and be in the moment with food. I admit that as long as food is my enemy, this is how it will be. I don’t want food to be my enemy, so see how I need to nurture a new relationship with food? I’m not going to tackle this relaxation-and-eating thing overnight.

When I’m not “present” with food, I’m slamming it down my face because “it’s just sooo good” or because I don’t want others eating off my plate, or because I want to get away from the table because the kids are so damn irritating, or because I have a deadline to reach. This mindset is also numbing. It enables me to ignore satiation and keep eating (overeating!)…because as much as I want the meal to be over, I want to keep eating because it’s filling a bottomless hole.

PLEASE NOTE: This is such a good example of an addict’s thought process! This just doesn’t make rational sense. I’m saying I want to get the eating over with because I don’t want to stop eating.

The Lesson of Week 1
If I’m present with food, I’m going to have to honor myself and stop eating when I’m full. I said that slowing down and breathing puts me in the ring with my enemy: food. But it also puts me in the ring with my savior: my intuition, my higher power, God. That’s REALLY powerful. My intuition is always going to tell me to take care of myself and feed my body in a loving, nourishing way.

But because I’m a food addict, the LAST thing I want to be told is “stop eating.” The very reason I want to “get eating over with” is the very reason I’m abusing/overeating food. Overeating provides a release from the pain of eating. Fascinating.

You know what else is fascinating? The fact that slowing down and breathing–or relaxing while I eat–puts me smack-dab in the middle of this confrontation. It leads me to the place of healing!

It is truly time to slow down and breathe. I know now that my higher power wants what’s best for me. I have a level of awareness now that makes it harder to ignore flagrant gluttony. What’s happened is I’ve made myself accountable. And Mark David is challenging me to RELAX WHILE I EAT and incorporate this awareness into my food experiences. I should despise him for this (haha), but I’ve asked the universe to help me with these issues. Go figure.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for Week 2!

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