The Love-Powered Diet: Eating for Freedom, Health, and Joy
This is your fairy godmother speaking: You can have a body you think is gorgeous—not just for the ball, but forever. You can go to sleep at night without hating yourself for what you ate during the day, and you'll never again need to count calories or carbohydrates, grams of fat or ounces of food. You only need to count yourself lucky for having discovered a new way of seeing and doing things.
OK, so I'm not your fairy godmother. I'm another person just like you with a food problem that took me around the block so many times I could have passed as a meter reader. I cannot zap you with a magic wand. You'll just think I did once you discover within yourself a source of power to change your eating and your life—one that's more effective than a regiment of fairy godmothers marching in formation. This is the power of love. Don't be put off by an overused word. It's an extremely underused resource.
You know how being in love transforms the way people look and feel, and how loving someone or something can give a person a sense of purpose and power. There's more than one story about a small woman lifting an automobile off her child trapped beneath it. There's also abundant evidence of the crucial role that love plays in healing. Physicians such as Bernie Siegel, Larry Dossey, and Deepak Chopra have documented how loving oneself and others can mean the difference between getting well and giving up. When patients open themselves to love as an active energy in its own right, they can experience changes in their own bodies and emotions that appear miraculous. Some think of this as divine love, others as the synchronizing force that keeps electrons whirling about the nucleus of every atom. It works either way.
This love can revolutionize your relationship with food because the love already inside you is not only strengthening, it's filling. If you have a history of overeating and being overweight—or its flip side of chronic dieting, bulimia, or over-exercising—you may have already realized that you're not eating to fill your stomach. You're eating to fill a gash in your soul.
There isn't enough food on Earth to fill that inner void, and there aren't enough friends, lovers, or children, houses, cars, or stock certificates, clothes, compliments, or accomplishments to fill it either. Nevertheless, when you connect with the love inside you, a comfortable sense of enoughness begins to emerge. The dictionary claims that “enoughness” isn't a word, but without it, you and food will always be at war.
You win this battle when you give up the fight. Attach your willpower to the nearest white flag and let love take over. That's when you'll understand that you are enough. You are attractive enough. You are lovable enough. And for this day, the most important one there is, you are thin enough, too. When I use the word thin, I don't mean model-thin or athlete-thin or adolescent-thin. I mean feeling comfortable with your body and proud to walk around in it. Thin, as used in this book, means having a body that serves you well so you can live freely without wishing you weighed less.
Do you know what will happen when you comprehend—not just with your head but with your heart and your spirit—that you're indeed thin enough for the day at hand, that you're truly attractive and lovable? You'll treat yourself as someone who's all those things. For starters, you'll eat a like a thin, attractive, lovable person does. When I was fighting food with the vigor of a fresh Marine recruit, a wise old fellow told me that I was putting the cart before the horse in trying to eat less than I wanted and to exercise more. He said that it works the other way around, that people who are healthy automatically do healthy things.
Every concerned and loving action you take shows the love-empowerment working in your life. Using a cloth bag instead of plastic is like making yourself a couple of baked potatoes instead of tearing into a bag of chips. Both show you care, and it's pretty difficult to practice genuine caring and addictive behavior at the same time.
Goodness knows, I was an authority on healthy things. I'd been writing articles about health, fitness, and beauty since I was nineteen. I read, researched, and wrote, keeping abreast of the latest trends in diet, nutrition, exercise, and behavior modification. I interviewed experts and passed their findings along. I'd accumulated so much information that my head ached, but I was trapped in binge/diet cycle so insidious that more of the time, my heart ached, too.
It was embarrassing enough to go from fat to thin and back again like a human accordion. In addition to seeing myself as a diet failure, I saw myself as a phony. The words I wrote were true based on the knowledge available at the time, but I wasn't able to put them into practice. Like a marriage counselor going through his fifth divorce, my work and my life were sorely fragmented.
Fragmentation—fragmented lives in fragmented society—is a component most of the time when eating is out of balance. The love-powered approach meets fragmentation with integration because pure, essential love is an integrating force. It doesn't foster bits and pieces. Love will not only make a difference in what you eat and the amount of exercise you get but it will also enhance the way you feel about your body. The integrating power of love can bring all your parts into a functioning whole. When it infuses the way you eat and the way you live, your body will definitely show results, but so will every other aspect of your life. Nothing less than that can bring about changes that last.
When love fills your emptiness and integrates your fragmented factions, you'll no longer need a closet filled with clothes that range in size from 2 to triple-X. You won't need to be a person who starts every Monday with a dismal diet that's tossed aside by Tuesday afternoon. You can stop spending your money on every pill, potion, and promise that comes around. The kind of love I'm talking about keeps its promises a day at a time, as surely as the sun brings light in the morning. Without that, weight loss is destined to be temporary. You know that's as true as an oath in court because you've lost weight before. You'd be better off keeping the body you have right now and learning to cherish it than to have one more raving success with a diet, then blow the lid off it and despise yourself. Those episodes erode the spirit. You deserve the chance to leave them behind for good.
The only way I know to bring destructive eating to a screeching halt and keep it there on a daily basis is to let love take care of it. I not only tried the other ways, I wrote articles about them. There were plenty of good ideas in those approaches. Many were sane and logical, devised by intelligent, caring people, but the power to make them work for me wasn't in them. They presented valid facts about nutrition or working out or "thinking thin," but these facts were as useless to me as one perfectly decent battery in a flashlight that needs two.
The love-powered approach is different because it works on both perspective and practice. On an inner level, it means trading willpower for love's power. In practical application, it means living and eating in love-inspired fashion. The foods you'll prefer will be those that express love—to your physical self, to all livingkind, and to the planet that provides our food in the first place. You won't be dieting. It's known now that that kind of regimentation can't realistically be imposed on natural processes, and that responding to hunger is as natural to us as blinking or breathing. Instead of dieting, you'll be choosing to care for yourself and those around you as you make your selections at the supermarket or from the menu.
Because you're worth the best, your way of eating will reflect the low-fat, high-fiber, high-complex-carbohydrate recommendations of the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the overwhelming majority of human nutrition studies of the past forty years. In fact, it will epitomize these recommendations. And luscious fruits, colorful vegetables, hearty whole grains, and protein-rich legumes satisfy hunger while they discourage cravings. With a loving attitude and these foods as the staples in your kitchen, you really can eat all you want because what you want will finally be what you need. Weight loss and maintenance will proceed spontaneously without undue attention. You can stop watching your weight and start seeing the beauty that's in and around you. In this way, love works in you to make your life better and through you to make your world better.
There's an old maxim that says, "He who lives for himself alone lives for the meanest mortal known." Those who eat for themselves alone are in something of the same category. One of the reasons why diets so often fail is that, instead of bringing you into the stream of life, they set you apart from it—off somewhere with your blender and your portion scale and your food diary. With the love-powered approach, being part of life is part of the solution.
Is this going to be complicated? No, it's deceptively simple. Will it be easy? Not all the time, but living this way is, at its toughest, easier than trying to convince yourself that the ice cream in your shopping cart is for the family, when you know that your husband is out of town and both your kids are allergic to dairy. Probably the most difficult thing you'll have to grapple with is giving up the fight. You may feel as if you've gone AWOL, but believe me: with love as your commander-in-chief you'll be honorably discharged from active combat. You'll be able to harmonize an inner awareness of love with loving outward actions—food choices included.
This harmony is essential for durable change, whether you want to overcome chronic binge eating, do away with an annoying ten pounds, stop dieting for the first time since puberty, or simply eat a little more healthfully than you do now. Life without the dual plagues of compulsive eating and fanatical weight control is precious indeed. Health of body and peace of mind are also priceless commodities. To help you toward these, love yourself to a new relationship with food; love yourself to a new appreciation for yourself and your body; and love yourself thin without forcing yourself there.
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