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MINDFUL EATING

So here I am….age 40, thinking about my life, where I have come from and where I intent to go.  As my thoughts run crazy for days, weeks and months… I realize that I find myself right in the middle of a midlife crisis or what I like to say…. my midlife awakening! 

Over the last few months, I have embarked on a mindfulness eating journey!  I decided that now is the time for me to create a more positive relationship with food. Before I go any further, I would like to take a moment to be vulnerable, to be real, to share a little bit of my story that might shed some light as to why have I intentionally embarked on this journey.

For as long as I can remember, weight “issues” have been part of my narrative, my life story, how I defined myself and how I see the world and more particularly food.  I recall being on my first “diet” when I was 11 years old and being followed by a dietician.  Feeling happy at the time with my weight loss and thinking that I’ve done it!  I’m skinny like all my other friends….And then dooms day came along, the weight came back. 

This up and down yo-yo effect has been the story of my life.  I remember so well the highs I used to get when I would meet my goals as well as the lows of being overweight and ashamed that I let this happen to myself AGAIN!  I was constantly looking for new diets, new ways of training my brain so that I could have self-control and in the end no matter what I tried, nothing “out there in the world” helped me stay my healthy weight.

I say “out there in the world” because what I have now started to realize is that the true answer to my “weight issues” demands that I look inwards, into my soul to experience the mind/body connection that I have been missing all along.  There was a time when I did realize, on a cerebral level, that there was a connection between the two, but it wasn’t until I started to pay attention to myself and my body that I truly felt that ones.

During my mindfulness eating journey, I am learning that I need to show-up for my meals and take notice of how the foods I am eating make me feel. Do I feel nourished? Or do I feel bloated? Whatever I am feeling, I am learning to hear it and honor what my body is telling me.  I am listening to what my intuitive self is telling me about what my body needs to eat. 

Not only am I showing up for my meals and paying attention, I am working on perceiving physical exercise in a new light.  I no longer see exercise as something I must do to help with weight loss or run to solely burn off the calories that I have ingested.  Rather, I have begun to tell myself that exercise is a way to help me maintain awareness of my movements so that I can re-establish my mind/body connection.

Although I am saddened that I did not start this journey sooner, but Jan Chozen Bays says it best “mindful eating replaces self-criticism with self-nurturing.  It replaces shame with respect for your own inner wisdom”. Alas, at the young age of 40, I am starting to acknowledge and respect my inner wisdom!  Here’s to my midlife awakening and to being present!

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Janice Hamel

Janice Hamel is a devoted social worker working in the health care field and proactively engaged in the international field.  She graduated from the University of British Colombia with her Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in International Social Work.

Over the last 20 years, Janice has taken on the role of advocate, researcher, counselor, group animator, guest speaker and manager. She has worked with adults and children living with mental health issues, woman and children affected by violence, seniors and those in palliative/hospice care. As well as in combatting to end human trafficking.