Big Little Secrets / The One That Set Me Free
by SARAH MATHEWS
Reading Time: 5mins
there's something NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT ME AND UP UNTIL RECENTLY, THAT INCLUDED JANIE. WEIRD RIGHT? SHE'S MY GO-TO PERSON IN A CRISIS BUT TO ME, THIS DIDN'T SEEM TO QUALIFY. everyone i know seems to have their own story when it comes to food and diets, but deep down, i knew that what i had felt for the last 13 years didn't quite add up.
it wasn't until two weeks ago, when janie and i were finishing up a morning meeting in an ice-cream parlour (of all places), that she said something interesting that made me look up. it's since changed everything for me and that's why i decided to share my story...
JUST A KID IN THE KITCHEN...
For as long as I can remember I was this happy-go-lucky kid that loved my vegetables. In fact, I used to pack bags of lettuce in my school lunch box and I'm pretty surprised I didn't extend this invitation to brussels sprouts... to my parent's delight, I ate those too with no complaint. I always made healthy decisions and strategic ones at that. When I learned that I could get out of doing the dishes (my worst!) by cooking my family dinner, that was that! I banned everyone from the kitchen and prepared gourmet meals out of Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef recipe book; the first that started my collection when I was just a young teen. I got such satisfaction from creating all these flavours and my family pretty much resigned themselves to let me play... as long as they stuck to their end of the deal and cleaned up afterwards.
a minor but major SET BACK...
In my early twenties, I moved away from home and ended up in a relationship that really affected my confidence. There was a warped sense of reality around weight and food, obsessively so, and I remember feeling completely confused. All of a sudden food was 100% emotional to me. Instead of coming from that place of love and nostalgia, I was fearful. Even when I prepared something healthy, if it wasn't extreme (preferably bland or steamed), then it wouldn't be eaten. In hindsight, it was ridiculous and I should never have allowed it to affect me the way it did but I was young and no longer that quick off the mark in making those strategic and necessary decisions.
To be fair, this wasn't the only experience that contributed to me feeling this way, but it was the start of me being aware of an emotional heaviness that I now had every time it came to food. It also didn't help that our culture was becoming more and more obsessed with celebrating rigid practices and perfect ideals.
you live and you learn... BUT still, something DIDN'T ADD UP.
For someone who is pretty headstrong and determined to enjoy balance in life, here I was with my healthier-than-most habits - no sugar, no fizzy drinks, no junk food etc - and yet I was in absolute knots about every food decision (good and bad), and hating myself when I saw my reflection in the mirror which was just really unkind. Comfort eating was a discomfort to me and so the horrible cycle would go...
THE IRONY that the ANSWER WOULD FIND ME, unexpectedly, IN an ICE-CREAM PARLOUR...
So there we were catching up over our coffees when Janie mentions out of the blue that her number one secret creative hack to help her reset is FASTING. I immediately look up. "Wait", I said, "are you telling me you did that right before our photo shoot and you didn't tell me?!" ... she went on to explain that she came across it herself while on holiday in Italy. By the time dinner rolled around, she still felt full from the hotel breakfast and authentic pizza/pasta lunches. In opting for a glass of wine instead, she noticed how good they felt - there was no guilt and they weren't gaining any extra holiday weight! She researched it more on her return and discovered heaps of psychological studies that advocate for the mental clarity you get from regular practice and now, more than anything, this is what helped her change her life!
The thing you have to understand about working with Janie is that her approach to problem-solving feels downhill and therein lies her magic. Here I had created this uphill battle for myself for more than a decade and the way she was describing this solution was so light in comparison. Sure, I would be the one who would have to commit to the work and be disciplined but I was ready for something to shift and I was curious if this would help do it. I'd tried other means before but none of them had addressed the mental aspects of the heaviness.
all I had to do
1. enjoy a nice, delicious breakfast. 2. enjoy a nice, wholesome lunch (no later than 3pm). 3. fast through dinner skipping it entirely or by replacing it with a fresh green juice (kale, spinach, celery, cucumber and lemon) to start. If for some reason I couldn't skip dinner, I would fast one of the other meals instead.
IN TWO WEEKs i've noticed:
- The mental clarity is real! I wake up alert and before my alarm clock every morning and on the odd occasion I fell out, I woke up later... which I found interesting.
- I'm rarely in a rush to eat anymore and I find myself trying to avoid eating on-the-go.
- I've started to make more effort with meal prep and really enjoy cooking again.
- Even when I'm not eating, I love preparing dinner for friends... this way I don't feel like I'm missing out and I can always dish up a serving for lunch the next day.
- Even when I was travelling or stuck in other people's routines, this wasn't difficult to upkeep.
- I make a point of sitting and eating mindfully and slowly while working on the plan for the rest of my day.
- There's no ugly inner dialogue anymore, only an inner cheerleader... THIS IS HUGE!!!!!!!!!!!
- I feel good! Lighter and surprisingly, stronger in my workouts. (Side note: I go to heated and vinyasa yoga every day because I love it. It's more about cultivating that internal space to train my mind and reconnect to again).
- I avoid obsessing over the scale every day but I can say I've lost centimetres and 4 kilos!
- There are no rigid rules. If you want to have a block of dark chocolate with your breakfast you could, or if you wanted to have a glass of wine while you fast through dinner, it's not going to kill you.
- You don't need to stock as many groceries especially if you buy your juices from the likes of One-Juice or Nourish'd (just avoid the ones with apple in the ingredients).
- There are fewer dishes to clean up :) and that's always worth celebrating!
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR:
- Special occasions, let yourself off the hook!
- When you're stressed or sleep deprived your mind can get bored and frustrated. Step away, step outside, exercise or drink lots of water!
The reason we were inspired to write this article as a follow on from Janie's Drop It Like It's Hot feature last week was because it's just another way of demonstrating how easily you can train your mind to let go of age-old heaviness. Food, for so many us, can be an emotional burden but when you really stop to think about it there is no such thing as 'good food and bad food', just good feelings and bad feelings and these are just as important, if not more important, to learn to digest. This is a tool that allows you to eat what you love AND look good! It's not about deprivation but rather about empowerment and feeling good.
It's also important to note, we're not suddenly claiming to be experts in nutrition but we did consult with experts and wanted to share our experience in what we learned putting this research to the test.
Photography by Anita Olckers