Laura repressed a lot of things.
Her marriage, her ambitions, her feelings.
She was taught by her parents to stuff things down. She was taught to think her wants were selfish. To speak up for herself was considered selfish if it would “disturb the peace.” Things were a certain way and Laura had a duty to preserve that way.
She let a bad marriage go 10 years because of this mindset and worldview.
With few outlets, Laura turned to food for relief.
In a backward sort of way, she could enforce a sense of control over satisfaction, which was largely absent in her life. Food provided what life could not. Or so she thought.
As is to be expected, food got the best of her.
Laura developed an unhealthy dependency on sugar – as so many do. She became needy. She lost herself.
Just like drugs or alcohol, food can never and will never fill the emptiness, is no solution to sadness, and cannot provide fulfillment.
After 6 months of working together one-on-one, employing all the strategies I deliver in EvolutionEat: The Online Course, Laura had the following to say:
“What do I do now?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Food used to occupy such a meaningful place in my life and now…it doesn’t. What does one do with that?”
“You tell me. What’s on the other side of sugar?”
This was a powerful question. It shook Laura to the core.
“I don’t know,” she said, slowly, searching for what to say. “I’m scared to find out.”
“Are you worried you’ll displace it with something even more dangerous?”
“No. Not at all. I like feeling a sense of control over my choices. I’ve never had that before. That’s something I’m never letting go of, that’s why I still want to work with you—to keep training, to keep getting better. I still have a lot to learn.”
“That attitude is why you’ve made such tremendous progress. It’s proof that by being open and honest and raw about your entire experience, the highs and lows and everything in between, by committing to the process on a daily basis and showing up no matter what’s going on or how you feel—it’s proof that with proper training anyone can master their diet, gain control, and overcome the past.”
“Thanks. You’ve been a critical factor. Your accountability and support. Your message. You made me see this process as something that goes way beyond the food. And that’s why I’m scared.”
“Talk to me.”
“I guess I’m afraid that I have to look at myself now. What’s missing in my life. There’s an emptiness I can’t and don’t want to mask with food any longer. This process has changed me to the core. There’s a lot in me that wants to come out. That’s scary to consider…what that’d look like in my life. The sort of changes I’d have to make.”
Laura now had an empty space to fill. A big one.
This can happen when you strip away food’s power over you.
When you learn that you’re in control, you will recognize with full awareness the void you now must fill. There’s no question, this is something you must do. This phenomenon can manifest in a number of ways: sadness, loneliness, boredom—or, inversely, excitement, empowerment, energy.
Regardless of how it manifests, it’s up to you to channel your energy into a solution.
When food and dieting stop controlling you, you will have more time, more mental real estate, and more emotional flexibility to do with what you please.
After working with a client for a long enough time, I’ll often get the question: “What do I do now?”
Just the other night, a client texted me at 7:30pm on a Saturday and said, somewhat sadly: “Now what?” She literally had no idea what to do with herself. Her vulnerability provided the platform for a conversation about finding a new hobby—but without cultivating an awareness that this is all quite normal and, in many ways, to be expected, the weight of the question can be daunting.
“What do you want to do?” is my response. It’s meant to shake you.
Most people don’t know how to respond. “What do you want?” is a question about fulfillment. It’s an existential question. It’s the question.
You see how food can’t ever provide the answer? It doesn’t make sense. It’s the wrong application.
Laura went deep.
After another 6 months, Laura had divorced her husband, quit her job as a music teacher at a small school, embraced her inner entrepreneur and opened up her very own music studio, where she now has a packed schedule.
On the other side of sugar, Laura embraced herself.
You might use Laura’s story as motivation to do something BIG, like change a career. Or you might use it to do something small, like learn how to play an instrument.
Either way, use it.