#2197

I went into 2018 determined to change one of the most influential relationships in my life: my relationship with food. I’ve written before about how food is a major stressor for me, both from a nutritional/medical standpoint and from a body image one. Every meal poses multiple threats: will this hurt my stomach or otherwise cause some unexpected physical side effect? will it make me fat? will I have to not eat something later today because I ate this already? will I regret eating this so much that it’s not worth the mental agony in the first place? Blah blah blah. It makes me miserable, and so my big goal of 2018 was to shut down that paranoid, overly critical voice in my brain. I would continue making good food choices based on what my body needs and can or can’t handle, but I would stop making choices based on things like calorie count or whether a food could be deemed “good” or “bad”.

This doesn’t mean I started eating junk food for every meal, of course (though I wish!). Since my body already has trouble with processed foods and anything high in fat, grease, oil, or sugar, my diet is pretty healthy by default. What it does mean is that I started allowing myself to actually enjoy foods that weren’t “bad” for me in a nutritional way but would be considered so by most diet coaches. For me personally, this mostly meant carbs. Bread, pie, crackers, pretzels, muffins, cereal, scones, all those delicious foods you’re supposed to run screaming from because oh god, they might ruin your flat tummy I ate with the conscious effort to enjoy guilt-free. Same with cheese, peanut butter, honey, dried fruit, all those deceptively healthy foods that are secretly high calorie and therefore a dieter’s trap. With every bite of homemade banana bread slathered with peanut butter or chunk of wheat bread accompanied by cheese and an apple I made myself consciously recognize that I am inherently allowed to eat these foods. Not “allowed because I exercised that day” or “because I skipped lunch”, but allowed because I can eat what I want. Period. End of story. My worth as a person isn’t based on how many calories I ingest per day and life is too short to spend agonizing over every bite. If I want to eat a muffin I’m going to eat a goddamn muffin.

So what happened? Well, I gained fifteen pounds or so. I gained so much weight, in fact, that I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been – which should be a personal nightmare come true, but you know what? The world didn’t end. Literally nothing changed in my life except my stomach is a little flabbier (that’s where all my weight gain goes) and maybe a few items of clothing don’t fit as well as they once did. But that’s it! I’m as healthy as I was a year ago, if not healthier, and whatever extra chub I’ve gained hasn’t caused me any emotional, financial, or interpersonal ruin. I’m not sure anyone has even noticed, really, except for my wife, and my doctor didn’t comment on my increased weight when I went in for my yearly physical. Like I said, nothing has changed in any significant way… except I’m happier and mentally/emotionally healthier than last year. My enjoyment of friends and family time increased exponentially once it wasn’t hampered by constant food anxiety; I actually ate what I wanted to over the holidays; and I’ve allowed myself foods I avoided for literally years. Nothing changed except I feel a little less crazy, which, with a brain like mine, feels quite the triumph.

My efforts in 2018 didn’t cure me of my body image issues, of course; that shit is so deeply rooted inside me that I’ll never be totally free. What matters, though, is that I’ve made progress. I’m much kinder to myself when it comes to food and that’s allowed me to better appreciate when and what I eat, and with whom I share those meals. If the price of that lesson is a few extra pounds, I find I don’t mind that much. They say “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips”, meaning your enjoyment of food is fleeting and therefore inconsequential compared to the lofty pinnacle of success that is being skinny, but that phrase doesn’t take into account that the memories of those moments are also with us forever. When we eat consciously, and especially when we make meals into a time of friendship and joy, we’re nourishing ourselves in a different but just as important way.  That’s what I want to focus on, not an elusive number on the scale.

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#2052

Here’s what 2018 holds for me (spread from Tarot.com):

Question: A lesson learned in 2017
Card: 3 of Cups
Interpretation: This year I learned the value of developing community, in this case through the queer meetup I started early in the year. Through Queer Club I made several long lasting friendships that really encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and boring routine. I had no idea what kind of impact it would have on me to have queer friends in real life; while I love the connections I’ve made online, there’s something much more comforting and immediate about being in a room full of other queer folks. I found this to be especially important in light of the downturn my country, and much of the world, has taken in the last year. While I can educate myself about all sorts of issues online, and offer my support, sometimes what I need is to just get off my electronics and hang out with friends. I’m so grateful for the connections I made in 2017 and excited to see how they develop in 2018.

Question: What to expect in the next year
Card: Ace of Cups
Interpretation: The Ace of Cups is here to tell me I’ll be doing more emotional, intuitive, and psychic work in 2018. I suspect I may be doing a lot of this work with Inanna’s support, as She has recently taken to communicating through cup cards. In addition, a recent energy reading mentioned a “small white bird”, which made me think of a white dove. Doves are common symbols in the cup cards of many tarot decks, and are also one of Aphrodite’s/Venus’ symbols. With Inanna encouraging me to focus on Her aspect as a goddess of love, She’s been reminding me a lot of Aphrodite and Venus (who are considered connected with Her).

Question: A challenge you’ll face in the next year
Card: 10 of Wands
Interpretation: 2018 looks to be a big year for me – more responsibilities at work, this new journey with Inanna, and the continued development of my intuition and spiritual practice. In between all that I also need to find time for family, friends, my wife, our animals, and my hobbies. The 10 of Wands therefore warns me I’ll be juggling a lot of responsibilities in 2018 and will need to tap into my inner strength to make it all happen. The 10 of Wands also rightly indicates that I’m afraid to take on some of these responsibilities and challenges (especially at work), so I’ll struggle with that anxiety as well.

Question: How to harness your inner power next year
Card: Knight of Pentacles
Interpretation: The Knight of Pentacles urges me to be methodical, patient, focused, and goal oriented. Its motto could be “slow and steady wins the race”, and there’s a lot of truth in that statement. I have zero patience, after all, and tend to procrastinate boring or unpleasant tasks out of laziness. If I want to successfully juggle all these different responsibilities and goals in 2018, I need to have a plan in place and not let myself get distracted or discouraged.

Question: Some guidance for the year ahead
Card: 4 of Pentacles
Interpretation: The 4 of Pentacles says let go! In 2018 I should try to let go of my need to control everything because all it does is cause me anxiety, anger, and depression. I need to be generous in spirit and with my blessings, instead of hoarding those blessings against some hypothetical future disaster. Having a savings is one thing; refusing to spend a dollar now because I might need it in thirty years is another. I did work on this during 2017, so I think the 4 of Pentacles is indicating I’m on the right path and should continue that work.

Question: Your personal theme for the year
Card: 4 of Cups
Interpretation: 2017 was a year of apathy as armor – though I’m not proud of being apathetic, I think a dose of apathy was what kept me from sinking even deeper into the well of depression. The 4 of Cups indicates that the time for apathy and internal discontent is over; it’s time to learn how to look within and act without, to find balance between introspection and action. Basically, I need to get out of my head, which some emotional and spiritual overhauling should help.