A fascinating thing happened as I walked out of the office of my new wellness coach, Michael DeSanti, of Authentic Self Healing the other day: I felt free.
Never before have I been to a health advisor who did not eliminate some favorite food or call evil a staple in my diet. In fact, he said something amazing. He actually said, “I don’t care what you eat.”
Don’t take that to mean, though, that he doesn’t care about my success. I get the feeling he cares intricately about it. He’s just not going to feed into my self-induced guilt. “Guilt,” he says, “is not on any ingredient list. At least not the last time I checked.” Smart, that. Because I know that guilt is part of that black hole of emotions I often experience that lead me into a feeding frenzy followed by a comatose state. After, I wake up to find, as Michael says, Skittles and chocolate wrappers all over the place.
Okay so not really. But almost.
I walked into his office with one burning question on my mind: Why, after an awesome start to the day nutritionally, did I have a jagunda-sized bowl of ice cream yesterday afternoon? I was sure he was going to tell me all the reasons why ice cream is evil (dairy! fat! sugar!) and tell me to never, ever eat it again (even though we both would know I would). Then he would whip out the tape measure and the scale he’d been hiding in his closet so that I could begin my symbolic self-flaggelation.
Instead, he talked about hormones and how hormones are actually addictive (not so much the ice cream). He told me that when I eat ice cream, I should enjoy it. He doesn’t want to talk calories, he wants to talk information — as in, he wants me to not stop eating ice cream, but to make sure I’m giving my body the high-information foods (in the form of dark leafy greens) it needs. So this week’s homework: lots of dark, leafy greens. I finally know what to do with all those collard greens I get in the bi-weekly farm order!
The session began with some chit chat, and somehow we got on the topic of motherhood. I mentioned to Michael about the amazing speaker we had at church this weekend, Nancy Beach, who talked about how she really had to invent her own version of motherhood. I told him how much that meant to me, because despite all the contradictory advice out there that promotes itself as absolute gospel, what worked for my daughter didn’t work for my son. They — and the way I relate to them — are completely different. I really am creating my own motherhood as I go along.
He explained how — just like motherhood — we are going to create a wellness program that’s uniquely mine. Not yours, not according to all things Paleo or the next door neighbor’s grapefruit and cabbage diet book. We’re going to invent a program that works for me, because I am uniquely made. And while I’m at it, I get to eat ice cream and drink wine and not feel guilty about it.
Quite frankly, it made me think of the Pharissees and Jesus. No, really. It did. Follow me here — I know it’s a mental leap and many of you are rolling your eyes, but hear me out. I realized the need to become legalistic seems to be in our DNA — whether its about religion, our motherhood, or our diets. We seem to automatically want to go General instead of Hippie.
Every faith has their Pharisees, and the religion of health in this country is no different. Whether your idol is McDonalds or protein shakes, clean eating or down and dirty barbeque, chances are you’ll have a pretty passionate opinion, regardless of whether it’s defensive or offensive. The truth is, there are lots of books and hype and products that all tout the FINAL ANSWER when it comes to our health, but the truth is that I am made the same but different from you (paraphrasing Michael again). So if I feel great eating peanut butter and beans, then maybe, just maybe that’s how God made me. And I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Except that I would never eat peanut butter and beans together. That would be gross.
There was so much more Michael spoke about, I can’t put it in one post. Some of it is still dancing around the perimeter of my brain and hasn’t yet taken root. But I’m happy I chose to start this program, and I’m excited to see where I end up. Remember, you can keep track of my thoughts and progress — and even my leafy-green-eating — right here every Thursday morning for the next twelve weeks.
My head is still giddy at the thought of it. The idea that I shouldn’t feel guilty about the ice cream I eat is almost as radical to me as the idea Jesus came to set me free from guilt. It’s almost like I knew it along, but forgot to look. And now that I’ve looked, I can’t really look away. I can look at myself in the unique way that I am singularly made, crooked front tooth and all. It’s okay to look at myself and smile.
And with that, I think I’ll end this post.