I had a great conversation with one of my workout partners this morning. We were cooling down from some brutal thrusters and box jumps and talking about what we do for a living. Coincidentally, her hubby is a psychiatrist (mine is a counselor) and we both work from home. We were walking and talking about what I do for a living (nutrition consulting). I explained to her that I love being able to help people change negative thought patterns surrounding themselves and food. She mentioned that it seemed like people were disgusted with themselves and with food. It got me to wondering if that was true.
It made me think back to when I was a teenager. I loved to sneak out to the garage where our huge freeze was. It was jammed full of cookie dough, cookies, cakes….all sorts of garbage. I remember times of gnawing on raw cookie dough or taking bites of individually wrapped carrot cakes and hiding them behind the ground beef. I can vividly recall the sinking feeling of disgust with myself for not only sneaking junk food, but for eating it in the first place. It made me feel dirty and gross. But, those feelings weren’t enough to stop me from doing it.
I worked at a yogurt shop during high school and college back at home which is pretty much ever fat kids dream, right? All the yogurt you could eat and toppings galore! I used to sneak bites of cookie dough and M&M’s toppings when no one was around. I would eat cup after cup of fatty, sugary, albeit delicious, frozen yogurt with five layers of toppings. I felt ashamed of my addiction to the stuff, but didn’t know how to tell anyone that I was sick. I didn’t know then that I was a sugar addict who needed help, but wouldn’t find it for another decade.
About three years ago, my counselor had me do an exercise that changed my life forever. He told me to write down all the things that I think I “should” do or “have” to do. Expectations and things that disgusted me about myself came out in list after list, page after page. He had me write them on a huge t-shirt (to show how huge I actually wasn’t) and to invite my friends over to read my shirt- while I was wearing it! It was the most vulnerable thing I have ever done. Exposing how I felt about myself for everyone to see was really challenging. But, it was also amazing to receive affirmation that I was not disgusting or any of the things that I wrote down. It helped me to see how the negative beliefs I had about myself were sabotaging my relationships.
This feeling of disgust lives in each of us. Some of us recognize it, some of us don’t. It can show up when you overeat (hello holidays) or when you order something you think you “shouldn’t” have. It can show up in disgust of those around you (fat or skinny) or of yourself for looking the way you do. This one feeling has to power to make or break not only your self-esteem, but also the way you look at others and how you relate to food.
Some of you may be saying, “ok, so what? What If I am disgusted with myself? What does it matter?” It matters a great deal, friend. This feeling of disgust is coming from a need that is not being met. Somewhere in your life, you are feeling unsatisfied and longing for fulfillment. What need is not being met for you? Relationships? Family? Acceptance? Security? I urge you to take some time to search your heart to find what it is that is missing that causes you to be disgusted with yourself whether its with food or comparing yourself to others. If you need help figuring it out, reach out to someone who can help! Find a counselor you can trust (Shameless plug for Tim Ludeman @ Lighthouse Counseling ) to help you find how to get those needs met so that you can find fulfillment and be freed from a life of disgust.