Though this isn’t a follow up to my last beauty-of-winter-weather post, it does start out with ice. A slip on icy pavement, to be specific. Today I was walking in an unfamiliar neighborhood, lost deep within my thoughts, when I slipped on the ice. Most of the sidewalk was covered with the thick, cratered ice, the kind that looks like the surface of the moon, lovely rough terrain with enough traction to walk along swiftly. And then in that gut-wrenching split second, my feet started to go out from under me and my arms instinctively flew out to my sides, shifting my center of gravity just enough that I got my bearings and stayed upright.
How did my body know to move my arms in just that way? How, with no conscious thought, did my brain respond in the perfect way to keep me balanced, safe and right? Turns out, the body has deep, ancient wisdom that keeps everything running beautifully when we do not interfere. It knows that most of its energy should be spent on healing, rebuilding, replenishment. It knows a concentrated period of “digestive rest” allows it to remove toxins and fight off invaders in the absence of digestive demands. It understands that when the time to eat does arrive, consuming whole, natural food will give it the best materials for all that rebuilding during the next fast.
Intermittent fasting is the health practice that brought all this knowledge into sharp focus for me. Sometimes IF is referred to as a fad, a trend or (cringe) a diet. Please….. Don’t Call It A Diet . Seeing the intense passion many of us feel for the lifestyle, some are even crass enough to refer to it as a cult. But you know what? It’s anything but a cult. It’s the anti-cult.
Though IF, I’ve been taught to honor my body for all its innate miraculousness. I don’t criticize it for how it looks, and I don’t blame it (or myself) for the past issues I had with weight. IF has empowered me to realize that it wasn’t me that was wrong. It was scads of bad information, non-stop aggressive marketing, and skewed societal ideals that created all the years of food struggle in my life. Now, I’ve been empowered to take care of myself based on deep, instinctual wisdom from within my body. Food, especially natural, whole food from plants and animals, is no longer villanized but celebrated thanks to Gin Stephens’ Feast Without Fear. I can eat what tastes good and what makes me feel my very best. I’m in touch with what feeling good is.
It’s a bold leap, but I’d go so far as to say this: not only is IF not a cult, but learning to live the lifestyle has been like LEAVING a cult, the old life where our bodies and our foods were maligned, where we were left confused and helpless, waiting for the next expert or the next product to come down the pike. Stepping fully into the IF community has been like a great de-programming, one where all the falsehoods have been revealed for what they were.
As the lies fall away like the layers of an onion being peeled back one by one, I am left untethered. Sometimes it makes me feel almost like I looked today in front of that stranger’s stoop…..slipping, sliding, unsure how to get my bearings. But then my arms fly out from that profound inner prompting, and I am steady, sure…..left only with the truth, with myself and the freedom that was my birthright all along.
More about my story is in our book Unbelievable Freedom: How We Transformed Our Health and Happiness with Intermittent Fasting, available with the link below.