Food Freedom & Flexibility

COVID has been a lesson in flexibility for me. What about you?

To be totally honest, I’m not always the best at rolling with the punches. I like my life to be steady and predictable despite the fact that it rarely is either of those things.

So yes, I’m a recovering control freak. I certainly have a lot more work ahead of me in that arena, but I like to think that I’m at least making progress. At the very least, the quarantine and total upheaval of normal life has forced me helped me to learn to be more accommodating. As uncomfortable as it is to have my day flipped upside down, it’s a reminder of who really is in control, and where my hope and peace are found. My salvation does not come from a clean, crisp, color-coded schedule. 

The other day, for example, I ended up working from a nearby Panera, but using the WiFi from the neighboring mattress store. Earlier that day I’d been in the city for a meeting that was cancelled last minute. When I went home to have the rest of my day’s remote meetings, I learned that I couldn’t actually use the WiFi at the same time as my husband if either of us were to have any hope of actually hearing the person we were on a call with. I zipped off to Panera only to learn that their WiFi was also having issues! The only available network was the guest account at the mattress store next door, and the manager kindly allowed me to use their password even though I wasn’t a patron. #phew!

In full disclosure, I was amazed by how calm and collected I felt despite the fact that my schedule had become a total mess…something that most certainly would have unraveled me in the past. Maybe it’s all the practice in letting go that I’d had throughout the quarantine, maybe it was the adaptogenic herbs I’d been taking, or maybe it was just the grace of God. But whatever the reason, I found myself feeling so grateful that I was unmoved by my circumstances. I think that’s what rock-solid faith feels like, and I’m here for it.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Matthew 7:24-27

One thing that I do know for certain is that flexibility and adaptability are completely impossible when we’re putting our hope and trust in things that can’t offer us a firm foundation. When I think back to my disordered eating days, I can’t actually remember any instances of me keeping my cool when unexpected events occurred. In fact, something as benign as eating at a different restaurant than the one I’d been expecting would make me feel like my whole life and existence were being threatened. “What? I can’t eat there! I don’t know the calorie counts of any of the menu items! What if they don’t have any options that will fit my strict dietary requirements?

Worries about the number of calories I was eating or whether or not I would be able to fit exercise into my schedule, anxiety if my clothes didn’t fit the way I wanted them to, and a number of other distracting thoughts related to my eating disorder made me feel constantly on edge. Small triggers like scheduling changes would easily set me off into feeling frantic, panicked, and totally out-of-control. The irony is that I was trying so hard to stay in control of my circumstances, but all that anxious striving was just getting in the way of my ability to cope with the fact that I’m not actually in control at all. Since recovering from my eating disorder, my schedule feels a lot more manageable because there isn’t so much riding on it. If a last minute meeting (or cancellation) gets in the way of my workout, I no longer worry that my body will change for the worse. If plans to eat at restaurant A fall through and my husband and I go to restaurant B, it’s no big deal. If I have a last-minute invitation to meet friends for coffee or ice cream, I feel the freedom to be spontaneous—something my eating disorder had previously forbidden. Healing my relationship with food not only allowed me the freedom to eat what I’m craving and reconcile with my body, but it also allowed me the freedom to be more flexible with my schedule.

Even though I’m not someone for whom “rolling with the punches” comes easily, my eating disorder only made my experience of life that much worse. I am convinced that disordered eating/dieting gets in the way of a free and fulfilling life no matter how “type B” a person might naturally be.

[If you’re struggling in your relationship with food, you’re not alone. I’ve worked with so many women who have stories similar to this one, I promise you that healing is possible. If you need more support in this area, I encourage you to check out my book, Fulfilled, which outlines practical steps for making peace with food, exercise, and your body.]


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