Truth, Honesty, and our Relationship to Food

“It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” ~ Somerset Maugham

Regular readers of my monthly nutrition newsletter ‘Elements‘ know that I am a big devotee of Yoga. The style I ascribe to is the kick-ass, high intensity, musically influenced, God-centered practice doled out throughout the day at Jivamukti Yoga School, located in Union Square in New York City. I love it, love it, love it! And not just because it helps me keep my body in shape and allows me feel physically sound. I love it because in addition to all the extraordinary health benefits (and if you go to Kelly Britton’s class, the opportunity to practice to the tunes of the Beatles and Led Zeppelin), they also talk about God a lot and things that we would otherwise like to ignore, like non-harming, kindness and truth.

Every month there is a focus of the month and every day, each teacher delivers a talk highlighting and underscoring that message. This month it is truth. Truth in word, action and thought. Basically, living an honest life.

Now, this can be applied to anything at all; from the little white lie to flat out fabrications. It could be applied to the stories we tell others, but what was fascinating me today, is the story we tell ourselves. And in particular, the stories and rationalizations we tell ourselves about food.

I have the privilege of talking to a lot of people about their health, diet, and lifestyle. It is my goal to gather as much information as possible in order to set them on a path that will lead them to vibrant health and happiness. I don’t just peddle a healthy body though. My goal, always, is their achievement of happiness through the practice of striving for and maintaining optimum health.

Through these conversations I really get to know people and I find that many of them (and I would say that I have been a victim of this too), lie to themselves about the consequences of the foods they eat. It goes something like this: “Well, I only had two cookies and one piece of bread, where in the past it would have been a lot worse.” Or “I drank only 3 glasses of wine throughout the night.” Or, my personal favorite, “It was a co-workers birthday! How could I not have cake?”

These same clients (and I love them to pieces and am not talking about any one person in particular here; this is more of a composite) are then incredulous when they aren’t getting the results they are looking for. So there is some chicanery going on. Either they are really metabolically challenged or there are some half truths being told.

And here is some insight for you, after 10 years of being in this business I can tell you that when someone admits to 3 glasses of wine, it’s usually a whole bottle, and when they fess up to two cookies, it was probably more along the lines of, they lost count. As for a co-workers birthday cake? Put it this way, my mother makes the most outrageous flan and cheese cake in the world and out of 50 opportunities to eat them, I have one or the other maybe 3 times. It’s not that I am so great or self controlled, but it’s because I know what it will do to me. And in keeping with the theme of honesty, sugar is really not my thing. I could take it or leave it. But if you presented me with a glass of fantastic Bordeaux, well, that would be harder to resist.

Tomorrow Never Comes

Achieving your health goals, whether they be to lose weight, reduce cholesterol, prevent heart disease, or improve energy and stamina, require some sort of sacrifice. Something has to be given up to create space for something new to emerge. There is no way to have it both ways. And when I talk to a client and they tell me that they really, really want to lose weight but can’t stop buying Oreo’s, I know that they are blanketing the truth. There is something that they are rationalizing or believing that suspends reality and allows them to think, “well, I can start tomorrow.” And here’s the truth about tomorrow; it never comes. And when we tell ourselves that we’ll start whatever it is tomorrow, we are flat out lying to ourselves. How many thwarted tomorrow’s does one need to know that there is no such thing? All we have is now, this moment and this opportunity to make the changes we need to make to create the lives we want. This is it. Now.

So I ask you, is there a story you tell yourself that makes you feel okay to put off for another day your health and well-being? Is it possible that this story is masking the truth? Contemplate this possibility, because if this is the case, the person that is most affected by this denial and procrastination is you. In regards to food, is there a story you play over and over in your mind that makes it okay to eat that cake or drink that beer or not get regular exercise? If there is, then at least admit it to yourself, if no one else. This is the first step. Because once you shed the lie and get real, it is much harder to go there again. You may still eat too much or drink one too many, but at least you will be doing it with your eyes wide open. And once you are there, you are one step closer to action. And it is the action that yields the results ~ Remember, everything that we want in life requires a sacrifice. And the greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward.

Do you have a short story about how denial has held you back in the past? Or better yet, how a truth revealed has moved you into positive action? If so, please share your story in the comments section below. Your contribution may help someone else that may be reading this and you can make any comment anonymously.

In health~