A few months ago, I was interviewed by a writer for a mental health magazine about the concept of my latest book, ONLY LOVE TODAY. The article was scheduled to run in their November issue. I have searched and searched and cannot find the magazine anywhere. I find this a little funny because at the time of the interview, that was my hope. I really didn’t want people reading about the unhealthy habit I confessed to the interviewer. But given what’s happened since then, I feel it needs to be shared. So here goes …
I remember this phone interview vividly because the interviewer’s very first question was abrupt and caught me a bit off guard.
“I understand the importance of approaching life with a positive lens of acceptance and kindness, but what about bad habits — damaging habits that make you unhealthy?” she said skeptically. “Do you just throw up your hands and say, ‘Well, this is who I am. I am going to love myself as is, and I don’t need to change?”
No! I wanted to outwardly object, but then I’d have to explain how I knew this – and that explanation would go into the magazine. I debated for a moment, then took a deep breath and spoke honestly.
“Well, as a matter of fact, I’m working on a bad habit right now. I’m trying to break the habit of drinking large quantities of diet soda. And approaching it — or any other damaging habit — from an accepting, grace-filled way is quite motivating. It means you don’t berate yourself when you slip up, so you keep trying. It means you focus on progress, not perfection. It means you remember you’re human, and each stumble only gives you more experience and greater wisdom to use next time.”
In other words, shame and condemnation are not motivating; acceptance and grace are.
I witnessed this first hand when I taught special education for adolescents with severe behavior issues. They often came to me so defeated because they’d grown up only hearing what they did wrong. They often believed they couldn’t change. One of the first things I did was break down their goal into tiny, achievable steps. By mastering that tiny step, they got their first taste of success. This sparked belief and motivation.
I decided small, achievable goals was exactly what I needed to overcome my unhealthy habit. As I contemplated my goals, a term mentioned by a blog reader came to mind. When I referred to my diet soda consumption an “addiction,” this reader countered that it was not an addiction – it was a choice. After my initial feeling of defensiveness, I googled the term she suggested would help me: Intuitive Eating. These are some descriptors of Intuitive Eating that quickly jumped out at me:
- practices being more mindful at meal times
- reconnects to your body’s innate wisdom to determine the right amount of food for you
- becomes clear on what food you need, owning what food you need whenever possible, and not apologizing for it
In short, it’s about becoming attuned to your heart’s sense of what is right …. good … and true for your body. And that’s when I realized Intuitive Eating could be actually be called Only Love Today Eating. I was on board.
I created four tiny goals for each time I ate or drank something and put them on an index card. The card read:
Rachel’s Intuitive Eating/Drinking Goals: (BBRR)
*Be thankful for what you are about to eat / drink
*Really taste the flavors
*Relish any & all good choices you made
On the back of my goal card, I placed two empowering quotes:
“I am the only person who has control over my eating habits. I can always resist something if I choose to.” –Louise Hay
“Every Choice Matters.” –Kerry Foreman
I quickly went from five to seven diet sodas a day to one or two and upped my water intake astronomically and have sustained this for several months. This is quite significant – if not miraculous – given the results of past attempts where my goal was total abstinence. When I “slipped up” after a few days and had a soda, I felt guilty and ashamed. I’d quickly decide I could not do it, and I’d go back to drinking more soda than ever.
Shame and condemnation are not motivating – but acceptance and grace are.
Over the past several months, listening to my intuition and giving myself grace have motivated and encouraged me in ways I’ve never experienced. Not only am I being more mindful about what I’m putting into my body, but I’ve also become more in tune with my deepest needs and best interests. I was able to determine it was not time to write another book, but it was finally time to create my first online course. I was able to determine something was wrong with my body and quickly sought medical attention. I was able to sense a damaging habit in a loved one and took steps to rectify it – with acceptance, grace, and love.
I am experiencing great clarity by reciting “BBRR” anytime I want to make sound decisions and positive choices in any life situation, not just when it comes to eating and drinking:
Really taste it
Relish your good choices
When mindfully applied, this formula has the potential to enhance any life experience and guide you towards what is right … good … and true for you.
I feel this formula is particularly helpful during the holidays when we are bombarded with opportunities to make damaging choices when it comes to eating, drinking, spending, saying yes to all the requests, and neglecting ourselves to get everything accomplished. By the time Dec 25th rolls around, we are in such a deep place of shame and exhaustion that we cannot enjoy our sacred time with our loved ones or relish our blessings.
I know that depleted and defeated season well, and it is anything but joyful. It’s quite painful to reflect back on all the holiday moments I’ve sabotaged by berating myself over poor choices, not being a certain size, or not having achieved what I wanted to by the year’s end. What a foolish waste of time! What a miserable existence!
I am so excited this will be my first intuitive, grace-focused Thanksgiving. I find it especially timely given that of all the holidays, this is the one I most associate with my father-in-law Ben who unexpectedly passed away in March.
Some of my fondest Thanksgiving memories involve going to Ben’s small residence with my husband Scott and our daughters. Scott would make his father a complete Thanksgiving meal – turkey, stuffing, rolls, homemade macaroni and cheese, and cherry pie. As Ben neared the end of his life in March, it did not surprise me that his bucket list included a bite of cherry pie made by his son.
I’ll never forget the look on Ben’s face when he took that bite. His eyes lit up, and the joy of a thousand memories erased the pain from his tired face. In just one bite, Ben was nourished by memories of long tables filled to the brim with comfort food, family, and togetherness.
The way Ben relished that single bite brought me to tears, and now I know why: That is how I want to taste life.
I want to relish, savor, and consume meaningful moments of goodness rather than be consumed by guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy.
Guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy will not sustain us when we lose our appetite and our body grows weary at the end of our days.
That is what will sustain us. So that is how we must fill our plates today.
Let us remember these vital ingredients of a meaningful life come more readily and abundantly when served with grace.
Unlike shame and condemnation, grace gives us hope.
Grace helps us pick up and try again when we fall.
Grace gives us tools to use.
Grace keeps us moving forward.
Grace says, “Only love today. You got this.”
Grace reminds us life is a journey and we can’t possibly know how to manage every challenge that comes our way, but we do know what will sustain us as we carry on.
And if we listen closely, our intuition will tell us that is all we really need.
My friends of the Hands Free Revolution, what I have shared here, a small-step method of change and enlightenment, is the premise of my very first online course debuting in January called SOUL SHIFT. I will be coming into your home through short videos to equip and encourage you. You will receive empowering daily messages and be part of a supportive online community lead by me. My skills as a teacher, writer, encourager, truth teller, and hope bearer are merging to help you live the life you most want to live. Click here to enter your email address so you can be notified when the course registration opens on January 8th at a discounted price. There are also share options at the bottom of the page if you would like to invite others to join you. I am so excited to share this transformative journey with you!
As a gift of thanks to you for all the love, support, and encouragement you provide me year-round, please accept this gratitude eBook I made for you. It’s a Guide to Increasing Gratitude this Holiday Season.
Please check the Hands Free Shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday because my sister-in-law (who manages the shop) is running some awesome deals. The gorgeous cuffs, bracelets, notecards, and prints provide helpful visual reminders to live better & love more based on my most memorable mantras.