More of What Works
On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve 2015, my husband and I were standing in the chip aisle of our health food store, mesmerized by the new stock. Before us lay a cornucopia of wholesome chips made with wholesome ingredients from wholesome companies. (I had surmised this from the wholesome-looking packaging.) “Those are made with coconut oil,” my husband said with awe as he pointed at one of the new brands. These are magic words in our home - coconut oil being an elixir of thyroid life, mentioned in every article and every book I’ve read on healing my immune system through nutrition. Potatoes, however, are not. I felt my commitment slipping away. Less than 9 hours left in my self-declared Year of Health, the basis of all my health improvements and the foundation for this next year’s theme, the Year of the Muse, and here I was suffering a crisis of conscience!
The rationalizations came pouring in like a deluge. I never treat myself and they’re all natural and coconut oil is good for me and it’s not sugar or even grains and those are the most important things I don’t eat and it’s bloodywell New Year’s Eve! I looked at my husband with desperation. “I need to step away and think.” I did not make the progress I made in my health last year by adhering to the precepts of perfectly acceptable or good enough. And, I don’t have willpower of steel. I simply don’t eat in a way that is inconsistent with my commitment. How did that happen? First, I hit rock bottom.
For years, I didn’t talk about being sick. I didn’t even use the word sick. I used phrases like energy issues and level of wellness in some kind of denial dressed up as positive thinking. Which turned out to be more like magical thinking. I got worse. I had to slow my commitments and eventually halt them. (Remember The Sounds From Silence? “What you can’t communicate runs your life.”) I had to face the fact that I was non-functioning. E.g. Unwell. I.e. Sick. In naming it, calling it out, it moved from being a vague and therefore irresolvable burden in my life to an issue to be dealt with. It’s almost miraculous how the naming of a thing gives it form, which gives it relate-ability, which opens up choice, which allows freedom, which provides power. In the beginning was the Word... (John 1:1).
The second step was following a brilliant principle I learned from Jon Gabriel, creator of The Gabriel Method for health and weight loss. Essentially, it’s this: Do not deprive yourself of what you want. Just keep adding more of what works, until you only want what works. This is genius. While every other health guru focuses on what to take out of your diet, Jon puts the attention on what to add in. But what I see now is that this is what I’ve been doing everywhere. At least, everywhere that I’m experiencing success. This is why my illness is diminishing, but also why my creative output is growing. Why my concerns about what people think are shrinking and my self-expression is expanding. Without even noticing, my life has been improving because I’m adding in more of what works for me.
Back in the health food store, I gathered my groceries. What interested me wasn’t a sudden and random craving for something I don’t want to eat, but the speed and voracity of my thoughts as they tried to work around my commitment. Around what I really want. If I could identify these thoughts for what they were, I could have power over them. And then I could add in more of the good stuff. I could choose to be my word. Rationalization may visit without warning or invitation, but if we keep adding in commitment, real choice becomes easier. I went to the checkout with my grass-fed butter, organic cocoa, and my favourite supergreens. I left without the chips.