Growing older: giving myself permission to enjoy eating and to just be me

Jennifer Lambert? – last name unclear

As a former Anorexic in my twenties, I spend almost 40 (!!) years disliking myself and mentally punishing myself for enjoying eating, after all, too much enjoyment leads to weight gain!

Part of my recovery as an Anorexic was to teach myself to enjoy eating, to not feel guilty about taking care of my physical needs, and by extension, enjoying the food was really good for my mental health.

As I was aging, my metabolism slowed, and when Menopause came early, it took a nosedive. It became very challenging to walk for the fun of it and for the health benefits, instead of mentally calculating how many miles I had to walk to burn off the calories I had eaten.

This was a massive paradigm shift I needed to actively participate in because I wasn’t enjoying how I was speaking to myself when I beat myself up over something small.

I’m 60 years old now and it was only a few short years ago I started the process of teaching myself to like myself. I was a pro at disliking myself, finding the smallest reasons to do so, and then verbally abusing and berating myself until I had fallen into a depression.

No matter the age we are, teaching ourselves to like ourselves is a challenge. Throw aging into the mix, with the changes in skin texture, hair texture, body shape, body abilities, (*gasp) wrinkles, and looking less like our 20-year-old selves but more like our own mother, well the struggle is real!

I read Wynne Leon’s article “One Thing to Love” as a guest writer on Navigating the Change, replied, and was inspired to flesh out an aging post of my own. I hope you’ll visit Wynne’s blog, where You’ll find humor mixed with awesome wisdom under the guise of offering tidbits of parenting advice/family news!

In One Thing to Love, Wynne wrote:

I can relate to that; there’s an art to looking in the mirror to see if I have food on my face without taking all of myself in. There’s an unfamiliarity of what I see when I do look in the mirror, as if the sag by my C-section scar and the cellulite on my arms don’t belong to the person I think of as me.

In the disconnect, I can’t figure out if I’m supposed to change my body, my mind, or my spirit to reconcile the disparity. Listening to that podcast, I finally had an a-ha moment—it doesn’t matter how many ab and arm workouts I do. Trying to match the image of my twenty-something self will always be a losing proposition. The only work that will be effective is updating how I see myself to be current. That doesn’t negate the need for me to work out to stay strong and healthy, but working out will never bring the self-acceptance that comes from making friends with who I am now.

I too was very challenged by this whole concept of loving and accepting myself for who I am now, at 60, and not trying to fit myself into the long-gone image of my 20-year-old self. I spent most of my life disliking myself, and now I laugh at the meme circulating on Facebook “I’d like to be the weight I was when I thought I was fat.” I think we can add “when I thought I was ugly”, for that’s a real challenge!

We don’t always realize our positive attributes until they’re gone, then we mourn them. Ironic isn’t it?

In teaching myself to like myself, I admit that mirror sessions recommended by Louise Hay were challenging. I found it difficult to say “I like you”, and really mean it.

I now try to look tenderly at myself, to be gentle, and to be positive in my feelings towards myself. I try to celebrate who I am now that I’ve come through the storms. I try to celebrate being healthy and vibrant, thankful for the ability to still do a number of things that have been denied to many due to age-related illnesses.

Yesterday I surprised myself when I said to myself that maybe it’s okay to not worry about gaining the 5 or 10 pounds from enjoying food, instead of constantly limiting my portion sizes, especially desserts! (This is huge for a former Anorexic!) LOL!

I love being able to look in the mirror now and be able to feel positive about myself, to not immediately start looking at my “flaws”, for the perspective of aging helps me to realize I was hard on myself for nothing.

I realized somewhere along the way that my future older self would always see my beauty, no matter how terrible I feel I look in the moment. I think that realization helped me to release the angst I felt when I looked at myself, and instead just focus on celebrating my life and all my milestones.

Imagine if we each could internalize this to ourselves, to allow ourselves the freedom and the grace to exist in our current reality instead of trying to squeeze into a box from the past?

Imagine how you’ll feel… I hope you will work on shifting these perspectives in your own life and actively release the negative self-talk and judgmental negativity!

Self-acceptance is precious! I’m not going to lament all the lost years and make myself feel guilty for not knowing what I know now, instead, I’m going to celebrate this new knowledge and the inner freedom it gives to me!

As Maya Angelou says,
“Do the best you can until you know better. 
Then when you know better, do better.”

Unknown

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Blessings!
Thank you for sharing this post and for following me!
Tamara
https://tamarakulish.com/ Archived Posts: https://tamarakulish.com/archived-posts/

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22 thoughts on “Growing older: giving myself permission to enjoy eating and to just be me

  1. I many like your beautiful blog. A pleasure to come stroll on your pages. A great discovery and a very interesting blog. I will come back to visit you. Do not hesitate to visit my universe. See you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome! Thanks so much for your lovely words! I appreciate you taking the time to comment, and I love your wonderful support! J’ai faite une petite tour de ton site, et je l’aime. Merci de me lancer l’invitation!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this for so many reasons, Tamara! I’m so glad Wynne’s post (which was fabulous) inspired you in this way. That’s what life’s all about. We are the change we’ve been waiting for; we, as women, have to lift each other up in all ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, yes, I looove how you put it, “That’s what life’s all about. We are the change we’ve been waiting for; we, as women, have to lift each other up in all ways.” We need to do this. We can do this. We ARE doing this, this very important work! Thanks so very much for your support! I appreciate you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve had a difficult relationship with food for a long time now. Ever since I was a child I ended up associating food with weight gain and that got even worse as a teenager. Even though I didn’t have an eating disorder I did force myself to never eat things I really wanted to which weren’t exactly healthy. It really effected my mental health negatively and when I did eat something that was high in calories I felt guilty for days.
    However, for the last few years I’ve made a conscious decision to eat things I like. I still try to eat healthy but don’t deny myself any treats. In fact, I’m eating a cinnamon roll right now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good for you! The messaging we received came from many sources, some major influences came from companies creating massively expensive marketing campaigns designed to work on and to heighten our insecurities to steer us into buying their products, whether food, cosmetics, clothes, magazines, etc. When we hear people parroting those thoughts, even with good intentions, we know those campaigns were done very successfully… for THEM! They made and continue to make MILLIONS of dollars off our insecurities they created!! Recognizing this is important. Actively rewiring our brains to accept what is actually NORMAL is vital for our mental health! Kudos to you! Enjoy your snack!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! The biggest thing that influenced me was media and now that I consume close to none of that type of media I feel so much better and feel at peace with my body. They continue making money even more now with social media. Every influencer I see is promoting some kind of weight loss thing. It’s awful.
        Thanks and I’m so glad you’re better now too! I can’t imagine how tough anorexia was but I’m happy you’re at peace now.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks so much! Anorexia has other roots apart from wanting to be skinny. It was a way for me to try to gain control of my life when I was married to an alcoholic and cocain addict who was bringing us through the emotional roller-coaster of binging, financial ruin and attempts at recovery. The ups and downs were extreme, and I didn’t have any tools to deal with those issues. That was my way of trying to gain some kind of control, even if the only control I had was over how much I ate.

          In our society we aren’t always encouraged to speak about the difficulties that we face, so our emotions need some kind of outlet, often those outlets are self destructive so our lives get even more complicated. Working through our problems and mental health issues takes great effort as you know, but now we’re both championing healing and healthy lifestyles, so hopefully more people will find the strength to do likewise.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. You’re so right. Some of these things stem from not having a proper outlet for our difficulties and not knowing how to deal with them. It definitely does take much more effort to face our problems but it’s so much more worth it in the long run.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I totally agree with you. I had to teach myself to like myself before I could stop berating myself for every perceived thing I did wrong. There was no way to face my problems or to heal until I did that long, hard work, but it was so very worth it. I had reached such a low point that I didn’t want to continue living life that way, so I fearfully embraced the tough inner work. I was expecting to see a monster within, but instead I discovered a very hurt, fragile person who needed nurturing.

              For most of my life I had waited on external forces to help me feel better, I kept waiting for that wonderful person who would be able to help make me whole, and one day I realized there would be no knight or prince on a white horse to rescue me, that I needed to do that for myself! That was the biggest pivotal moment of my life, and my mental health has kept going upwards since then!

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I’m so glad you realised that. I think most of us are waiting for someone to magically make the problems go away and make us happy but the truth is we need to learn to be happy on our own before we can be happy with someone else.

                Liked by 1 person

              2. Right? We’re constantly being sold on the idea of magical potions through advertising… the miracle cream, the miracle diet pill, the miracle remote job, the miracle… well, we’ve become accustomed to buying something outside of ourselves, of relying on experts advice for our lives, that the DIY notion of self-care and healing seems not only unattainable, but somehow less authentic if it comes from our lowly selves and not purchased with much razzle-dazzle. It’s not wonder we have come to distrust our own abilities! The truth is, we’re the only ones who can do this inner work for ourselves, and that’s a difficult truth for people still looking for the miraculous “Deus-ex-machina” to fix everything!

                Liked by 1 person

  4. You are a beautiful teacher of self-love and acceptance, Tamara.

    This section stood out to me: “I now try to look tenderly at myself, to be gentle, and to be positive in my feelings towards myself.” 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful post, as always, Tamara. I love your sentence, “Imagine if we each could internalize this to ourselves, to allow ourselves the freedom and the grace to exist in our current reality instead of trying to squeeze into a box from the past?” And I love the way you inspire freedom and grace with every post.

    Thank you for the generous shout-out and for being a trusted blog friend!! Love it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Wynn! It’s my pleasure to give you a shout out! Thank you for speaking so supportively and encouragingly to me! I’m thrilled that my intention has translated itself so others hear what my heart is saying to them. I wish to be that kind of source for people, so they can stop by and find refreshment and even to recharge their batteries!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I guess, I have to write again!!
    Well, I read your blog as soon as you published it as I receive notification.
    I really enjoy reading your blogs and It’s been a while since your last blog. I am surprised to know that you are 60. You don’t look like 60. My parents are also 60.
    Sometimes gaining few pounds is normal. You get only 1 life, do whatever you like. Eat whatever you like and please enjoy. Keep shining and keep sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Devang! I deeply appreciate your words! Yes, it’s been a little while since my last post, a lot has been going on at work which has taken up a lot of my mental bandwidth. I have a few posts percolating, but they’re telling me that they’re not quite ready, and having been emotionally depleted by work, I’m honoring my spirit by practicing extra self care to refill my batteries!

      I’m not a blogger who sticks to a set publishing schedule, I listen to my heart to learn what I need to write about next, and because I’ve had severe immune system issues in the past I’ve learned to honor the rhythm my mind and body impose, instead of fighting it to conform to a predetermined schedule which may end up doing me in!

      Thank you for the compliment, though I do look young, that photo is from a few years ago, to be honest. Thank you so much for your encouragement, I deeply appreciate your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey I’m really glad to see your blog after a long time. I was wondering how are you. I receive notifications of your blogs and I came as soon as I can!
    I never know you are 60, because you don’t look like 60. My parents are also 60+. But well age is just a number.
    Gaining few pounds is fine, if you are enjoying.
    Eat and do whatever you like. It’s your life and your body. Kindly enjoy it
    Keep smiling, sending you some good vibes. Keep sharing

    Like

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