Fasting and the Emotional Eater

dfpb239-282Last week I became a vegan and I live in Texas.

As you might already know, meat raising, preparation and consumption is basically a sacrament in Texas, so a decision to quit eating it casts immediate suspicion about infiltration by tree-hugging, West Coast liberals.

Mention that you quit sugar, dairy, eggs, caffeine and alcohol too and you might as well tell folks you walked precincts for Obama.

Which I did.

But as labels go, I’m a Jesus-freak too and he’s the reason I started the 21-day Daniel Fast.

When I began reading the Bible three years ago, I decided there was present-tense value in doing what it says. As I kept reading and studying, I developed some control over what comes out of my mouth, but I still struggle with what goes in it. When it comes to what I eat, my squealing, whining, impulsive, thoughtless, unconscious human nature is still well in control. Christians call this “the flesh.”

Sam calls it cycling.

Because I’m a yoga instructor, organic farmer and lover of food politics, I know what to eat and I can go ages doing it well, but when I go off the rails look out; it’s a spectacular, nutritional train wreck that can smoulder for months. And Texas is the penny on the tracks.

I know I can’t eat dessert at every meal, but at a gathering where Texas women are putting on the dog, turning out warm peach cobbler, German Chocolate cake and coconut pies from the kitchen, seriously, who can resist that?

Crispy, greasy french fries and beer go with the state’s famed barbecue like Captain goes with Tenille, and the portion sizes…please…especially at Tex-Mex joints,  food nearly falls off plates the size of hub caps.

And all of it makes my jeans shrink.

Box of Sprinkles Cupcakes in Dallas, Texas, in...

Box of Sprinkles Cupcakes in Dallas, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But more troubling is my habit of absorbing all of my husband’s anxiety and calming myself down by blankly staring at the refrigerator door and shoving cupcakes in my mouth.

Sprinkles Cupcakes in Dallas is torture because I fear I will choose wrongly between red velvet, lemon or salted caramel, so if nobody’s looking I buy all three.

Luckily I’m 5’9″ and have kind of gotten away with this behavior for years, but now I’m 40 and let’s not kid about what happens to 40 year-old women with cupcake issues.

Fasting is about discipline and consecration, sweeping the decks of useless clutter. It uses physical hunger to bring quiet awareness to spiritual hunger.

This fast is based on the Jewish Prophet Daniel who, while conscripted by the Babylonian king, refused to eat rich, palace food. Daniel lived on water and only things that grew from seed. The Bible says he thrived.

So for ten days, I’ve done just that. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. It’s not about the weight. It’s about poking around in the dark rooms I’d rather you not see, the ones where I can hide, pound cupcakes and loll around in pools of self-loathing. In those secret rooms, fear, depression and anxiety tell me “don’t worry, you deserve it. As long as nobody sees it, it’s not a problem.” Whoa. Thank God I don’t love alcohol like I do cupcakes.

I realize that’s a lot to unpack, so we’ll talk more later, but the point is, I don’t believe those crappy lies in other areas of my life anymore. Why in this one?

I want bacon.

Sam likes bacon.

2. Praying hard ahead of time is a good idea. Here was mine: “Lord, you know I suck at this, and if you don’t help me, I will quit in three days, so please help me.” Today is day ten, and it’s evidence of the Holy Spirit that it really hasn’t been that hard.

3. Cattlemen like Sam Kirk don’t want to be vegans. They will ask at every meal, “where’s the meat?” to ensure you aren’t tricking them with tofu. So planning meals for everybody ahead of time is crucial. The book is helpful in this regard.

Do you struggle with your eating too? What triggers it? What do you do about it?

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Four Great Things About Bikram Yoga

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

You think you can stir the pot by blogging about the The Bible? Try blogging about 26 yoga poses done in 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees – the practice known as Bikram Yoga.

Most people either love Bikram yoga or hate it. Until last week, I was firmly in the latter category. In fact, all the way through my first class at Bikram Yoga Tyler, I still hated it. But then I got home, dumped my soggy yoga clothes in the washer and noticed I felt like a buzzing, jacked up rock star.

Here are a few things that surprised me:

1. My mind didn’t wander, possibly because it was so heavily focused on survival. The postures are so strong and the room is so hot, your mind teeters on the verge of panic, which forces it into very narrow focus.

2. Afterward I craved blueberries and water and other really nourishing food. It was like my body said, ok you just demanded a lot of me, here are my demands. The idea of eating a Big Mac, fries and a coke after a Bikram class (or any yoga class) feels like an affront.

3. I had to open my mind and trust somebody else. I’ve been practicing yoga for a long time, so hearing an instructor say “make your back hurt” “pull harder until the joint hurts” seemed like total crazy talk. I’m not weighing in on the wisdom of Bikram’s system, which is very different from classical yoga, I’m merely pointing out that the yoga snob in me got to be still for a few minutes and learn something new. Not surprisingly, it exposed how closed my mind had been.

4. It reminded me how genuine accomplishment feels. Yes, it’s hard. It’s meant to be. Yoga practice should occur outside our mental comfort zones, but this one does it on steroids. But there’s something heartening about looking in a mirror 20 feet away and seeing the shape of your 40-year old deltoids as you hold your body in full locust pose. I often tell my students there are no trophies in yoga, except the ones you give yourself.

Whether you love Bikram or not is hardly the point of this post; chipping away at limiting belief is. Bikram Yoga made me wonder what else my cozy, little opinions have prevented me from trying.

Try Yoga Free.

yoga

Photo credit: Go Interactive Wellness

One of my goals for 2013 was to begin teaching yoga again.

Lucky for me, a brand new studio with good floors, vintage chandeliers and fairy lights opened up five minutes from my house. Last week I taught my first class in more than a year. The practice is shaking off dust, greasing a creaky joint or two and shedding light on corners I’ve let grow dark and cold.

People often say, ‘I can’t do yoga because I’m stiff,’ but that’s like saying, ‘I can’t go to dinner because I’m hungry.’ If you made a New Years Resolution to try yoga, come see me at Serenity Yoga in Mineola. Your first class is free. Or if you want to try at home first, visit:

Do Yoga With Me -A solid resource, chock full of free yoga classes, taught by good practitioners – some in lovely seaside locations. There are plenty of beginner classes along with anatomy lessons, breathing practices and meditations. All free! You can also purchase dvds to support the site.

mountain yoga

Photo credit: PaddyMurphy

And for my Christian readers who are leery of yoga because of its Hindu roots, please get over it. Yoga isn’t about worship, it’s about mindfulness and practice and growth. Its purpose, as my teacher is fond of saying, is “to impose order on chaos,” to breathe through all manner of stress and challenge; that has practical implications no matter what your faith.

Plus, after a bit of practice, you can stand on your head in stunning alpine locations.

Who doesn’t want to do that?