I used to think that life had to be so hard.
I had to work SO hard to get good grades, I had to choose a study group instead of a party in order to be successful, I had to commit to running 6 days a week in order to be skinny, I had to eat salad for lunch every day in order to fit into cute clothes.
Under this pretense, I was always telling myself NO.
No, you can’t eat pasta followed by gelato. No, you shouldn’t have a boyfriend — your schoolwork is too important. No, you can’t wear that dress until you lose 15 pounds. No, you can’t go to that Happy Hour, you need to go to the gym.
Without realizing it at the time, I lived in a state of deprivation and self denial. I had a pleasure ceiling. I was only allowed to have a little bit of fun before I felt like I had crossed some arbitrary line into inevitable failure and laziness.
And how did living this way make me act around food?
Well, crazy. It makes sense that because I was living my life in the “no fun zone”, I was also eating that way.
I thought that eating had to be hard. Food had to be difficult. I was convinced I’d always have to use willpower to keep myself from eating a carton of ice cream.
If I wanted to be skinny, I had to WORK for it. And never stop.
I thought that one day “working for it” would get easier, like when I magically lost 15 pounds I would be so in love with my body and myself that I’d somehow have endless willpower and that I wouldn’t even WANT the cookies. But that never happened. I’d lose the 15 pounds, binge on cookies and everything else, and gain the weight back.
Since eating was always WORK and never fun and enjoyable, eventually I would snap and NEED ALL THE FUN ALL AT ONCE. Cookies! Ice cream! Pizza! Give me all of the fun because I am so deprived.
After years of trying to figure out why I couldn’t handle this food thing, I finally began to see that I was living in a way that was completely void of pleasure and totally full of hard work. Sure, I had a semi enjoyable life, but there was always a cap.
I got so sick of my binges being my source of full out enjoyment, so I started investigating this idea of shifting my mindset from one of HARD WORK to one of PLEASURE AND ENJOYMENT.
I started looking for ways to make every moment more enjoyable, ways to relax more, laugh more, love more, live more. Simultaneously, I started eating food that I absolutely adored. Nothing passed these lips unless it was top notch.
As I did this, the frequency of my binges started to decrease. I was extracting enjoyment and fun out of every day and relaxing INTO life instead of working for it, so food became just one more enjoyable part of my day.
I was doing a pleasure experiment, and it was working. Holy shit.
I’ll admit, shifting from a LIFE IS HARD mentality to a WAIT, LIFE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE SO HARD mentality isn’t an overnight job.
But, if you’re looking to have an easy, relaxed relationship with food, it’s imperative to live your life with ease and relaxation.
Here’s a list of 10 ways to start living your daily life from a place of LIFE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE SO HARD:
1. Own your body today. Stop striving to always be thinner, at least for one day. Wake up, pretend like you’ve reached the finish line with your body, that you can stop “striving”, and treat her as such. What would it be like to stop always WORKING for a different, thinner body?
2. Skip the gym and instead choose to move your bones in a way that feels like play (i.e. dance class? a walk with a friend?)
3. Think about your career from a place of “life doesn’t have to be so hard”. If that were true, would you stay in your current job? Would you do something that lights you up instead?
4. Flirt. It’s fun. Even if you have a significant other, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your femininity.
5. Wear clothes that make you feel fun and relaxed. Anytime I put on some lipstick, a bold necklace, or any outfit that feels stylish, I feel instantly more relaxed.
6. Plan days that you love. On Sunday evenings, sit down with your calendar and plan out your week. Sprinkle every day with moments of pleasure, more than you think you need. And on days that are especially demanding, add in even more moments of fun, relaxation and enjoyment. You’ll need it. Don’t stop this exercise until you can look at every single day (Mon- Fri) and say “that day looks enjoyable!”
7. Eat only “fun” foods. Ensure that none of your food is boring, dull or feels like WORK. Watch how much more satisfied you are when all of your food is fun.
8. Talk with coworkers about non-work topics. I used to be someone who was “all business”, all the time. I don’t want to talk about my weekend, I want to talk about this project. Talking about my weekend is unproductive! Making the shift to pleasure instead of WORK, I started realizing the importance of small talk, laughs and loosening up in the office. I’ve found time and time again that my success always increases as I add more play into my life.
9. Shorten your to-do list. We all try to pile so much on our plate, only to get overwhelmed and turn to food to make us feel better. We don’t need to do everything RIGHT. NOW. Delegate, push things off to next week that don’t need to get done this week, let some chores go, ask for help, do less things but do them well.
10. Develop hobbies outside of reading “healthy living blogs”. Figure out what turns you on, what peaks your interest, and what you can get lost doing for hours.
I hope this list helps you think about how you can start living your life from a place of ease, pleasure, fun and relaxation instead of from a place of “Life has to be hard”. Because it doesn’t, we just have that in our heads. And when you start to live your life from a place of “wait, life doesn’t need to be so hard”, amazing things open up…
In the comments below, I’d love to hear: What is one way that you are going to live your life with more pleasure and ease this week?