A lot of the time, when people strive to make healthy changes, they focus solely on their physical health – what they’re eating and the type of exercise they’re doing. These are both key parts of a healthy lifestyle without question, but a lot of people tend to overlook the value of self-care and their emotional health. I know I’ve been guilty of this on a number of occasions myself. Processing tough emotions or working on fractured relationships hardly ever feels as good as conquering a tough workout or running a personal best time in a race, so it’s easy to see why people sometimes avoid working on themselves emotionally, while bettering themselves physically. Still, stifling emotions or ignoring strains in relationships have a tendency of holding people back from getting to where they want to be physically. I’ve learned this the hard way over the years. I’ve maintained a lot of my weight loss, but I’ve also lost and regained the same ten or fifteen pounds at least a dozen times in the past five or six years.
In spite of leaving behind a lot of self-destructive eating habits, I still struggle with emotional eating that worsens tenfold when I push my emotional needs onto the back burner. Over the last few months, I’ve wanted to do the best possible job as a new trainer as Ascend Fitness. I thought that meant my nutrition needed to be perfect so I could lead by example. Putting that kind of pressure on myself only caused immense stress and intensified the bouts of emotional eating. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of breakthroughs over this last month. Part of the emotional progress stemmed from getting closure with someone I cared a lot about that I’d been avoiding for almost nine months, but most of it came from the clarity I found after reading a book by Anita Johnston. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with any kind of disordered eating behaviours.
Here’s the link to Anita Johnston’s book: http://www.amazon.ca/Eating-Light-Moon-Relationship- Storytelling/
One of the key themes in this book is the need for a balance between the feminine and masculine. Society overall tends to celebrate the masculine – logic, rational thinking and tangible successes and achievements – while ignoring the value of the feminine – emotions, intuition and relationships.
“Women who struggle with disordered eating, more often than not have an overly dominant masculine aspect that continually attempts to control the inner feminine. Their masculine side is unrelentingly critical, even hostile, toward their feminine side. Consequently their lives are filled with activities, chores, and endless lists of things they must get done.”
Reading this book made me realize how much I let my masculine side run the show. I always need to be reaching the next goal, staying busy somehow, always trying to improve myself financially, mentally or physically. I’ve often done everything to push my feelings into the deepest recesses of my mind because over the years, I’ve been in friendships and relationships that made me feel like my feelings were excessive or irrational.
Now I’m making a conscious effort to balance out my masculine side with my feminine. I still want to reach certain goals and push myself during training sessions, but I’m seeing the value in the other side of myself as well. Being sensitive and having the volume turned up high on my emotions is not a character flaw – it’s a gift because it allows me to emphasize with others and connect with them on a greater level. I urge anyone who consistently forgets about their feminine side or believes their emotions are hindrances or unnecessary to start giving that side of themselves a chance to flourish. Emotions have a purpose and will only bring more happiness and peace if they’re given the space they need in our lives.
Two ways I’ve brought my feminine side into balance with my masculine:
1. Meditation – Sitting in silence and trying to shut off your mind for any length of time can be difficult – I know it is for me. Still, sitting for even five minutes first thing in the morning can be a game-changer for peace of mind and stress levels.
2. Journaling – Keeping a journal can help a person write through their feelings. Asking questions in the journal helps. Try approaching emotions with curiosity and ask where they’re coming from, rather than just trying to get rid of them as quickly as possible.
By: Kayla Van Egdom