Food. Such a complicated topic.
At least it is when we are suddenly faced with an option that we turn into a definition of self-worth.
Tomorrow, at my yoga studio here in Fort Worth, I am launching a program called INDIGO30. A simple concept really, and created after a lot of requests for a yoga and clean eating “restart.” Now I realize I am not the first to hatch this plan and for that reason, I’ve actually avoided it for several years… there is just so much around this topic, from books to videos to programs to opinions… Every yoga studio on the planet does stuff like this. I can’t begin to imagine the hundreds of thousands of books on the topic. And everyone seems to have the solution. Or they don’t and instead, they just have a lot of anxiety about it.
When I first decided to do this, I put together some preliminary content for the program, and asked for some feedback. On the whole, it was almost like I was asking people to take a trip up to the moon and back by pogo stick. There was either so much instant resistance or very staunch, righteous opinion. People either gave me every reason in the world why they wouldn’t do it or they told me exactly how they do it and how everyone else needs to do it.
And I forged onward …
Here was the basic concept for the participant: 30 days of yoga and follow the general rules of the Whole30TM nutrition program, which cuts out sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains and legumes.
“Oh I can’t do that…”
“What? No wine? Forget it.”
“Well I’ll do part of it, but not all of it.”
“I hate diets.”
“I already do most of it.”
“I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work.”
“I am not going to change the way I live or lose my happy moments with my family. No.”
“FUCK NO I’M NOT DOING THAT SHIT.”
“Why can’t I have beans?”
“Isn’t wine a fruit?”
“I refuse to read labels.”
I could keep going here, but frankly, I’m getting depressed. I was so shocked at how many people instantly launched into what wasn’t possible, and what they couldn’t or weren’t willing to do. I tried hard to do my yogi-mind-tricks and not force any opinions. I tried to speak from my own experience and say, “I am doing it because my body needs a good clean out!” or, “But look at all the good stuff you CAN have!”
It didn’t work.
As with many things, our nature is to default to what we can’t have, what won’t work, what isn’t possible, what we are being deprived of, what we are getting screwed over about (and who is screwing us over) and what we won’t do. Why is it that we can’t pause, in any given moment, and just shoo away that debilitating, super-bummer of a thought and go, “Hey wait a minute, you mean if I eat clean right now, and choose the ____ over the ____, I will feel great later? HELL YES I’LL DO THAT!”
But the truth is, food is one of the most emotionally sensitive topics there is.
As a student of yoga and life, I am in constant inquiry about thought. Some people are able to see that they have choice, while others remain victims, mostly to their own internal dialogue. I too have reservations about cleaning up my diet this month. I worry that I will crave gummy bears at 9pm and that I will cheat a little here and there – maybe sneak in a latte (because one or two won’t make any difference, right?) and what do I eat at my son’s baseball games? I mean who wants to eat ALMONDS at a double header? … And also, I can’t do any of that because I am the leader of this whole idea! I worry just like anyone else. But the thing is, I am 42. I can feel that I am 42. I work hard, always more than 60 hours a week, so I don’t sleep enough. I had a very real breast cancer scare a year ago. I have a handful of injuries that consistently bother me. Could I stand to shed a few pounds? Sure. But that’s not why I’m cleaning up my diet and committing to more yoga this month.
The reason I’m doing it is that I don’t really think I can mess around with this anymore. I have one body. I have kids who need me to be healthy and strong and not lose myself in a bottle of pinot at night to “wind down,” or indulge in sugar-laden, processed food because I feel like “I deserve it.” I have staff and students and people all over who need me to be on and alert and interested and creating. I need me to be on and alert and interested and creating.
The bottom line is, if you eat like shit, and you don’t stay physically active with yoga or whatever, you feel like shit. I don’t mean to be crass but it’s the truth. And a bigger question is how much time are we wasting thinking about and complaining about what we can’t have or can’t do?
My goal for my community this month, is not just to accept and participate in the INDIGO30, but even more, to challenge and question thoughts about food and the meaning we give it. I know you all have the yoga part. (No one freaked out over doing 30 days of yoga, by the way.) Some of you workout more than a professional athlete would! But what do you do when you go home for dinner? My hope is that over the course of this month, that you practice cleaning up your body and your thoughts. And that you decide that you are not depriving yourself; you are strengthening yourself. You are doing your body the favor it has been wanting – begging – you to do all along: eat whole foods and take good physical care. It has been trying to tell you and show you! Do you think a headache isn’t a sign?? Do you think 15-year-old acne at age 38 isn’t a sign? Aches and pains and allergies and insomnia and illness and digestive problems and anxiety and and and and and… ALL SIGNS. Your body and soul are TRYING TO TELL YOU TO GET IT TOGETHER AND CLEAN IT UP.
It’s only as hard as you make it.
I believe you can – we can – do this together.
Join me tomorrow. Here in Fort Worth and beyond. Let’s take a stand for our own health, instead of advocating what doesn’t work. Because so much really, truly does, and you know it.