I saw this image years ago, and I still love it.
Look at how the right brain is depicted — free of measured thought, playful, expansive. Look at the cubicles in the left brain. Organized, tight, limited. I’m pretty sure science cannot confirm this simplistic left-right brain definition, but let’s go with it just to make a point.
Eating a meal.
Are you counting calories or are you tasting the bursting flavors? Are you in conflict when you sit down for a meal? Do you struggle with what you should be eating versus what you actually are eating? Do you calculate points, calories or pounds while you’re trying to enjoy a meal? Do you consider how many calories you’ve burned through exercise before “allowing” yourself to eat something? Are you stuck in the cubicle of “diet”?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re in, what I endearingly call, “Left Brain Eating Hell.”
LBEH deprives us of JOY, which is the direction we all need to be go. Where is the joy in becoming a calorie calculator? Where is the joy in overthinking what you’re eating? Where is the joy in a “diet”?
Food is life’s natural expression, designed to support our bodies so we can grow and flourish. Food is magical. Just take a moment and look at a tomato seed. The entire tomato already exists in its tiny seed! Do you see how tiny those seeds are? What is the force that enables food to go from seed to fruit? 🍉 🍌 🍍 🍓 🍇 🍋 🍊 🍑 🍏 🍐 🍈 🥝 🍎 🍒
We need to live in that space of wonder, not a space of how many calories are in that tomato. Hold the seed in your hand and marvel with nature. Be grateful for that seed. Doesn’t it feel different? Taste the flavors. See the colors. Smell the fragrances. (Sure, food is manipulated and “scary” now with toxins and GMOs, etc… but not food in its most natural state. I’m talking about food in its most natural state.)
Full of wonder.
So back to the scale.
I’ve never weighed more in my life. But guess what? I’ve also never felt better in my life. Even though I feel good, a panic runs through me every time I have to step on the scale for a doctor. I feel the hot flash start in my scalp as I watch the nurse slide the metal piece to the maximum weight in one incremental weight area, and then move the giant metal piece into a whole new weight category. Then she slides the little piece very far over to the right again. I wince every time. Are we going to hit 200?
I’m not "obese" according to today's standards, so no one gives me a hard time, but I stress whenever I step on that metal box. (Sidebar: Please don’t take my blood pressure right after you put me on the scale. That’s just not fair.)
So there is the classical scale in the doctor’s offices. The ones I hate. But there are other scales I’ve been learning about that might help shift our view. A few weeks ago, I volunteered to jump on one of these scales that measures through electrical impedance. You get your ugly number, but you also get measurements of muscle mass and bone density A friend of mine is considering buying it for her nutrition practice so I volunteered to step on it as her test subject. I didn’t care. I’m over that giant number.
Lo and behold, this scale showed me an entirely different picture.
Solid muscle mass. Solid bone density.
No wonder I weigh so much!
Suddenly my paradigm shifted. My weight lifting is working. I have strong bones and muscles! 💪
And I weigh a lot because of it.
Yes, this scale is still a left brain exercise — numbers and such — but it is a baby step in shifting our paradigms. You know how people say the longest journey in the world is from the head to the heart? Well, the same principle applies here. Left brain to right brain is a giant shift.
Going from a calorie counter to a joyful eater takes baby steps. This new scale enabled me to stop fixating on a limited scale number at the doctor’s office, the one that gets inserted into a BMI calculator that only tells a part of the story, and to see my body in a new light. Our stories are much bigger than a number.
Getting on a scale can be very degrading — like we’re mooing cows being ushered onto the scale to get some kind of number that will define our value.
I’m here to tell you that the scale in no way defines even a small part of you! Jump off, friends. Even if the doctor says, “Jump on,” do it with detachment. Laugh at the number. Play with it. Silly stupid left brain cubicle number. It’s not you, and it never was.
Some simple steps to shift from left to right thinking AND eating:
1. Raise awareness. The first step is to become aware of your thoughts. Spend a day watching what you think. Write those thoughts down. Don't judge them. Allow yourself to become aware of how self-sabatoging or obsessive the negative thoughts surrounding food and weight can be. The second piece of this is that if you can observe your thoughts, you are getting in touch with who you really are. YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS. You are actually the person observing your thoughts. The observer.
2. Nurture the Observer. The part of you that can objectively look at yourself and your silly thoughts is the part that can play and laugh and experience joy. Allow that part to grow and create new thinking. "Oh no! I weigh so much!" can become "I'm strong and solid!" or even "I am so much more than my body experience." Play with it.
3. Savor the Senses. Experience food with all of your senses and take your time with this exercise. Rather than judge negatively, be aware of its taste, smell, texture and beauty. I like to use a fruit or vegetable, something closest to earth. If you look at a banana and think, "Bananas are high in sugar!" go and do this exercise with a banana. Cut it in half, slice it, make shapes with it. Get lost in the experience of this simple yet exquisite food. Stop judging food, and you'll stop judging your relationship to it.
4. Think Less. Feel More. This journey requires you to be more in touch with how your body feels, and less with what your brain is thinking. Move into a space where you recognize what your body needs versus giving it what someone else thinks is good for it. You carry this body around with you. You know best what it needs.
5. Laugh About It. Laughing is good for the body and the soul, and it washes burdensome thoughts away. Belly laughing exercises also help us embrace our bodies, rather than judge them. Let that belly shake with joy, and stop the judgmental thoughts.
You are not the calories in your food.
You are not a scale number.
You are not the size of your dress.
You are the force that lurks in that tiny seed.
And so, so much more.