Someone recently said to me “I guess you just get to eat whatever you want?!” I could have just blindly agreed in the manner of normal social convention, but instead I thought about that. I then drank some wine and thought some more. This blog post is the result.
First, some context. If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you know what I have been doing the last few months. If not, check out The Longest Walk NZ and you’ll have a better idea of where this comment comes from. Once you’ve done, come back here and read on.
Nice to have you back. Thanks for making the return journey.
Now that you know I spend my days walking around the country with my dogs and towing a 100kg trailer, you’ll appreciate why someone may say such a thing. It’ll also probably be easy enough for you to accept that I have been a personal trainer, infantry soldier, martial arts instructor, dog trainer/handler, ESL teacher (primary school)/clown, outdoor education instructor and group fitness instructor at various times in my life to date. I say all this only to demonstrate where I am coming from. It may seem like a varied… perhaps even ‘chaotic’ work history but there is a common thread. That thread is testing my beliefs, abilities and desires.
After a lot of experimentation, that is really what freedom is about for me. After all, if you don’t really know yourself, you can never really know what you want. If you don’t know what you are capable of, freedom will only bring you fear and insecurity. And if you don’t know what you want, freedom is just a word because others will bend your will to what they would have you do for their own ends.
With the context established, you can view this comment with fresh eyes and hear it with fresh ears.
“I guess you just get to eat whatever you want?!”
The personal trainer in me sees these words and sees pain. Some people won’t like this, but one of the most important lessons I learned training as a personal trainer (and coaching personal development) is: “Find the pain… and twist the knife”. I first heard that in a sales training session.
You can be the best personal trainer in the world, but if you are not a good salesman, a prospective client won’t sign on for your services. And if you can’t determine the emotional motivation for seeking the service, remind them of it and use it to motivate them, you won’t retain that client. The human psyche being what it is, we believe we do things because “there was a special/sale/new product” or some other such rubbish. The reality that every informed salesperson or marketer knows is that we act on emotion, not logic.
So when someone says to me “I guess you just get to eat whatever you want?!” I hear “I wish I could eat what I want and not get fat”. I hear the frustration, the struggle, the pain, the desire, an emotional connection to food… and the potential motivation to encourage active choices. I know I am losing a few of you here because it can hurt to think that people may be manipulating us in such a way. It can be hard to face difficult truths about ourselves. You may interpret it as being judgemental, cruel or nasty. These darker beliefs and motives are hard for some people to confront. I hope you read on anyway.
I had a similar struggle when it came to reading “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. It took me a year to read that book because I found it hard to get past the emotional revolt I felt. I read the first few “laws” and struggled to accept the logical argument for their factuality. The things I wanted desperately to believe about human behaviour contrasted with the facts being laid bare in front of me. Once I committed to reading it with an open mind, I could process the truth comprising its wisdom.
The underlying truth in that book and in all things related to long-term health is that it is your beliefs which determine your life.
From that point of view, “I guess you just get to eat whatever you want?!” is really more about what you WANT than what you EAT.
The short answer is yes, I do. But it’s not because of what I do. It’s because of what I wanted in the first place. I also ate what I wanted BEFORE I started walking for four hours every day towing 100kg and then too, I didn’t battle with weight issues. Some would like to claim I am “lucky” because they believe it is about metabolism. Others will make it personal and feel that I am discounting their unusual individual impediment to weight management. I still stick to my guns on this one though: the issue is what you want. It’s not the food. It’s not the weight. It’s not your body. It’s the underlying emotion in every case.
You can eat what you want when “what you want” is not related to what you eat.
This is where I get off the train. It’s not because I’ve run out of stuff to say, it’s because there’s not much value in my saying it. Some people will probably view this as a rant but I suspect that if you read this far, it touched you deeper than that in some way. (Either that or you are my Mum, who reads all my blogs.) The value in this blog is in encouraging you to think about WHY you eat. Not just at a surface level but the thing that triggers it. Furthermore, about WHY you go to the gym, watch TV, go fishing, drive to work, read books, sleep in, or do anything else for that matter.
My only hope for this post is that it sends someone down a path of discovery. I hope that it causes someone to be brave enough to delve deeper. I hope it helps someone to succeed at starting on a path to their freedom.