A self-worth manifesto (in which food is JUST EFFING FOOD).
We’ve gone deep into the world of nutrition, and I’m stoked that a few of you have decided to work with me over the next few weeks to level up!
One of the hallmarks of sustainable nutrition is that it doesn’t turn you into a hungry demon obsessed with food (we all know those, right? Or, better yet, have been one.). Body-changing nutrition that fits into the context of real life, in my experience, comes from a place of finally knowing that we are not our diets, that we are worthy of respect through our food choices, and that we deserve love and respect regardless of our eating habits.
Both our exercise routines and our eating habits are steeped in our values, our habits, our culture, and our sense of self-worth. My friend and colleague Rebekah Borucki did a dope podcast with another awesome woman in the wellness community, Dr. Amber Golshani, about where we cross the line from “healthy eating” to “disordered eating” – a thing much more common in our society than you’d think! – and it starts from our mentality. You can check out the video here (it’s ~16m of juicy goodness, for time budgeting), but my favorite question – and the one I’d like to focus on today – is … are you connecting your self-worth to your food?
Brene Brown says it better than anyone I know: “Worthiness is my birthright.”
We are born knowing that we have a voice, a place, an inherent value in the world…and then, somewhere along the line, we lose that deep sense of knowing. Whether that’s your mom telling you have a cute figure but should lose 20lbs, so you look at that bagel differently, or your boss unexpectedly firing you or your partner reminding you that you don’t measure up to their financial contributions in the household or anything in between, we receive messages in adulthood that we’re not enough.
Our concept of our worthiness is shaped by our experiences. By the time we get to adulthood, we can be so closed off and worried about being who everyone wants us to be (all while saying we don’t care what other people think – ha! Been there.) that we forget that who we really are – everything about that person – has a right to be here.
We’re constantly told to block out the haters, but how realistic is that? We’ve all tuned in at one time or another, and I believe that’s natural: we’re wired for connection and seek it out at every opportunity. We all have some degree of people-pleasing in us: we want to make friends, be liked, and belong, but we also want to those things as a result of who we actually are.
So, take heart! If you’ve been feeling like a failure because you care about someone else’s opinion, you’re normal. If you’ve been feeling weird because you don’t, also normal.
To quote Brene Brown again (which I’ll be doing a lot of in the next few weeks, because her research is life-changing stuff)…
“When we stop caring about what people think, we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think, we lose our willingness to be vulnerable. If we dismiss all the criticism, we lose out on important feedback, but if we subject ourselves to the hatefulness, our spirits get crushed. It’s a tightrope, shame resilience is the balance bar, and the safety net below is the one or two people in our lives who can help us reality-check the criticism and the cynicism.”
It’s a tough tightrope to walk – one that we often only learn to navigate after being burned a few times.
Many of us struggle drawing boundaries, which erodes our sense of self-worth. Think about it: if we never draw a line in the sand, someone can come in and kick our sandcastle over and destroy everything we’ve worked hard to build, and it’s our fault. Boundaries can only be drawn when we have a sense of our worthiness, so sort-of a catch-22. A great place to start is remembering that “owning our worthiness is the act of acknowledging that we are sacred” (there goes Brene again).
Most of us want to engage in our lives from a place of worthiness. When we realize that no matter what choices we make – pizza, salad, lifting, walking, having that tough conversation with our boss or partner, avoiding it for another day, etc. – no matter what gets done or what gets left undone, we are still enough, our perspective on our choices changes.
Getting to that point requires us to show up and let ourselves be seen. Which can be terrifying, especially if we are used to putting up a shield (which manifests in various forms, but, for me, perfectionism is my go-to…more on that soon :) ). Cultivating a sense of worth – remembering that it is our birthright – changes everything about our approach to food, exercise, work, and relationships: it has the power to set us free.
Before it sets us free though, it gets reeeeeeally uncomfortable.
This is SO NORMAL, I can’t even begin to tell you. If you research shame/Brene Brown/vulnerability at all, you’ll come across the phrase, “lean into the discomfort” about 6 trillion times. The most important thing I take away from that is knowing that discomfort – particularly when we’re doing internal work and realigning our thought patterns with our values – is totally normal. We’re going to mess up, we’re going to backslide, we’re going to fail. The process of growth and learning is uncomfortable, and all of these things are to be expected. You’re not alone, and cultivating the courage to fail, learn, and try again are a part of growth, not a hallmark of stagnation.
Accept the discomfort as part of the process. Lean into the struggle.
Knowing that struggle is to be expected offers a new perspective on cultivating courage, resilience, and openness – all required to realize our worthiness and walk in it.
Examine the intentions behind our behavior changes: in this instance, the struggle to own our worthiness and know we are more than our food choices (you’re not “bad” because you ate pizza.). If your intention is to experience peace with food (finally!), knowing you deserve it is the first step.
Taking the leap to become a stronger, more resilient version of you is worth the courage it takes to get there EVERY TIME.