Addiction to food can be a sneaky thief, robbing our opportunities to live in the present moment.
On Tuesday, I found myself smack dab in the middle of a ZUMBA class. My friend invited me to go, and her enthusiasm and excitement about the class made it feel like a major YOLO moment. In my recovery from addiction to food, I try to scoop up every moment I can (especially when I want to say no), so I went.
Buddies – it was SO FUN. People of all different ages, sizes, genders got into a bunch of lines and the Zumba party began! Amidst all the grinding and clapping and giggling and wooting, I was reminded of how great it is when I can get out of my are-you-good-enough-and-
everyone-is-looking-at-you head and really participate and throw myself into a moment. That’s a mindfulness skill we teach at Beacon all of the time – PARTICIPATING in the moment – getting in there, not thinking, and just DOING. And boy does it pay dividends that you can’t even imagine. #dontknockituntilyoutryit
And I was reminded of how much I love a group fitness class and group-dance-ANYTHING. In college, I worked as an aerobics instructor – kickboxing, step aerobics – you name it, I did it. And I loved it. And even though I wasn’t the picture of an aerobics instructor – I wasn’t a size 2 with a six pack – my energy and enthusiasm overrode that. I would teach and take classes in the front of the room PARTICIPATING in the moment and loving these classes.
During my senior year, my issues with food and weight were at their peak, and I was fired from my teaching job after a complaint from one of the gym members about my weight. The gym wanted to have instructors who practice what they preach. It was humiliating and heartbreaking all at once.
It was a very low moment in my life – one that would eventually help to fuel my recovery, one that showed me the prejudice of the world and the consequences of my eating disorder. I thought about fighting the system but felt so broken by the experience that I stayed quiet. While I would continue teaching fitness in the coming years, I did so in environments that I could control. I no longer stood in the front of the class smiling, and I was always mindful of who was in class – not my most authentic self. The experience took a little bit of my light for many years to come.
Being in that Zumba class on Tuesday – not subscribing to the story of my past – dancing like no one was watching, smiling, and grooving brought me so much joy. It also brought me some sadness for the years I lost not being able to experience that fun, joy, and participation.
Binge eating, compulsive overeating, addiction to food (whatever you identify with), is a nasty thief. It steals years from your life; it steals experiences you deserve to be having, but feel you’re not worthy of; it can have you stay home silent instead of taking risks and experiencing all that life has to offer.
I know I’m not alone in having my life darkened by my food and weight issues. I hear people’s regrets about their past every single day. And although we can’t change our past, we can certainly move into our futures with reckless abandon. A dear friend of mine once said, “Every day I am living my life, I am making amends to myself for the days I didn’t.” What a beautiful thought – and one that you can steal from me right this minute.
I encourage you to think about what your issues with food and weight have stolen from you. Have you not spoken up when you wanted to? Have you not participated in activities – singing, tennis, dance, improv? Have you not gone somewhere because you felt you didn’t look right, feel right, or that you would be rejected?
As we say at Beacon, that’s a problem to be solved. Let’s live in true liberation – we are on the road to freedom from our addiction to food, so let’s get all the benefits of that. Starting now. Make a commitment – big or small – today to make some sort of amends to yourself for the time you feel you lost. Maybe I’ll see you on the Zumba floor 🙂