Ocasionally, I like to revisit some of the books on my shelves, books that have made strong impressions, book that have inspired or somehow dropped into my lap at just the right time.
When I changed careers to become a chef, I was feeling pretty daunted, and one of my friends recommended to pick up a copy of Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”.
It’s been one of my favorites ever since, so I’ve decided to apply one of her chapters – about being an artist – to becoming the healthier you.
Julia says that “anger is fuel”. As my yoga teacher, the great and gentle Dharma Mittra would say, “use your angry determination to get there”, but in terms of living healthy, I say use your anger as a propeller: to resist overeating, to get to the gym (even if it’s only for 20 minutes), or to take the extra trip to the grocery store even when you’re pooped!
Synchronicity is when something seems to happen by chance – and yet has great spiritual meaning applicable to your personal situation. For example, a young woman working as a house keeper has a dream of becoming a painter and finds herself a new job cleaning the apartment of Pablo Picasso.
Julia says “answers to prayers are scary”, meaning that sometimes we wish for some self improvement, or even a chance to fulfill some deep-seated dream – but when our prayers are answered, it comes with many challenges that we must face. It’s ok to be afraid of those challenges, but push yourself forward no matter what.
Julia says, “shame is a controlling device” and the same is true when it comes to controlling our eating habits. Many people let shame control or defeat them when they’ve made a mistake on their new path towards health. People screw up, even really smart, seemly perfect people.
Don’t be a drama mama and throw your hands up in disgust – rather, correct yourself immediately and get back on your healthy eating schedule, it’s not a big deal. The more you correct yourself in the beginning without feeding into shame, the less mistakes you’ll make down the road.
Dealing with Critism
Look, there will always be that negative person around who will say, “Forget it, you can’t do it”. Block them out, right now. I remembered when I started culinary school and several people said to me, “You’re too old to go to culinary school”.
I thank myself each and every day that I didn’t let those silly nay-sayers sway me. Perhaps it’s easy for you to block out other people’s critisism, but what about your critical inner voice? Realize that you are undertaking a big change in your life, and take it easy on yourself.
When that inner voice whispers “You can’t do it, you’ll never be able to …” just push it aside. That little voice that seems so innocent is a saboteur, pure and simple. Treat it as such and brush it aside.
Julia says “Many blocked people are actually very powerful and creative.” Allow your power or creativity to come through as you plan out your new strategy towards living a healthier life. Don’t be afraid to eat new healthier foods or try new exercise routines.
I remember eight years ago, when I was working for a .com in New York City, my co-worker invited me to join her for a yoga class. I remember being nervous about trying a new form of exercise, but she urged me on even though I originally said no.
After taking that one class, it turned into three classes. Now I’m a certified yoga teacher and the person who taught in that class ten years ago has been a marvelous mentor and great friend to me ever since.
Julia says, “Growth is an erractic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back.” When you’re trying to break bad eating habits or change the shape of you body and mind, it can be tough because those habits are deeply ingrained, that’s why they are habits after all!
Manage your expectations now, and realize that you might have a set-back or two or even ten! It’s normal, but just remember that you have control. Apart from some severe health conditions, you have control over your health if you want it.
Spend one week in the army – you’d be amazed how much training you can absorb and tolerate. But really, you don’t have to be your own army sergeant, just do gentle exercise and add new healthy foods gradually to your life in increments, every day.