Janelle Brown: What Are You Afraid Of?
“What are you afraid of?” That's something Sean, my fitness mentor, asked me a couple of days ago. His question was in response to my whining and complaining about the difficulty I was having staying true to last week’s commitment to a cleanse. As always, his insight set me back. I hadn’t really thought about my resistance to change my diet, even short term, as fear. But was it? Why would I be afraid? Is food that much a part of my life? I don’t think I obsess about food. In fact, I have a wonderful, crazy busy life outside of what I eat and drink each day. But food must be important to me – I have attached enough emotional value to it that giving up some part of what I normally eat, even for a short time, is proving to be very difficult. I will say I have come far in managing portions and food choices, but there are still some foods I must think I can’t do without.
How do you separate yourself from a habit or pattern that is potentially physiological, as well as emotional? There is no doubt in my mind that there are components of addiction to sugar, soda or even some grains that have a chemical component, but just as with any detox program those chemical dependencies are overcome with a period of abstinence. But how do you separate yourself from the emotional need, the emotional addiction? Maybe one drives the other? If you no longer physically crave it does the emotional potency lessen?
What am I afraid of then? What do I think I am giving up emotionally? Certain foods are closely associated with my ultimate decompression activity, namely TV B-movie marathons on a brain dead Friday night. Do I not think I can decompress properly? Food is associated with all of our family’s celebrations. Do I think I can’t celebrate without them? Honestly, I’m not asking myself to give up the foods in question forever, but why does it seem that way right now? It is that there are echoes of permanent change in this simple exercise of abstinence? Does that permanence scare me?
I do know that, as I observed last week, this very exercise of doing battle with the idea of food-as-emotional-support versus fuel-is-the-primary-benefit-of-a-cleanse for me. This is the true perspective readjustment that spills into every aspect of my life. All I can do is take it one step at a time, double-checking my perspective from meal to meal and maintaining the hope that this battle will eventually be won. I can face this fear!