One of the most powerful tools for inspiration and transformation is storytelling. I once started a 9-piece soul band after watching The Commitments (great flick). I decided to start Nourishing Camie after reading Andie Mitchell‘s It Was Me All Along. Reese Witherspoon’s Wild was a motivating factor in planning my Juan de Fuca Trail backpacking trip this summer.
In fact, you might say I’m susceptible to story telling. When stories are told by inspirational people with motivating messages the results can be transformational. When they’re told by the jerk voice in my head, well, you get a health and wellness blogger who doesn’t blog for three months and whose progress has stagnated (that’s me, in case it wasn’t clear.) I have had a head full of stories that sabotage what I’m out to accomplish. It’s time to get them out of my head and into cyberspace where they can do some good.
So, dear reader, I present to you the 2016 Pulitzer Prize Short-List of Disempowering Stories by The Jerk in Camie’s Head.
The most weight I’ve ever lost in one “effort” was 90 lbs on Weight Watchers in 2001-ish. It took me nine months. Which, is also the longest I’ve ever sustained a weight-loss “effort” on this and other occasions. Over the years, 90lbs and nine months have become epic foes: the mountains I couldn’t quite summit before sliding down and eventually falling off the cliff into the abyss. The story is that they’re insurmountable. That after nine months, I’m out of strength, that there’s something deep in my psyche that prevents me from losing 100 lbs….or even say…91 lbs. It’s a good story: villains, psychological thrills, danger, hot heroine (me again). And it’s disempowering.
The Christmas Curse
Christmas is the bane of every baking/chocolate/booze/stuffing-lover’s existence. But imagine, if you will, a Christmas that happens to fall as you’re about to lose 90lbs and, almost exactly nine months after you’ve begun your weight-loss effort. Now we have ourselves a tale of Dickensian proportions. If you think Oliver Twist had it bad, try being me in December 2015. With both the unlucky nines AND Christmas against me, how could I ever prevail? Ghosts of weight-loss efforts past visited me in the night – “you’ve never survived Christmas unscathed,” they say “this will be the beginning of the end for you!” And so I ate. I drank. I laughed. I carried on with my friends and family. And I gained 8 lbs. Three months later, I’m still carrying them. This story could go either way – I could embrace the ghost of healthy, happy and fit Christmas futures or, I could take a detour into the next story…
The Kingdom of All or Nothing
When I find myself in this fairy tale, I must be very careful lest I’m swallowed by peanut-butter quicksand and returned to my former life. One false move in the Kingdom of All or Nothing and everything is lost. If I eat one piece of chocolate, I’ll be compelled to eat another and another – overtaken by the Spell of Compulsion until I can do nothing but eat for all eternity. If I miss an exercise class, the Elves of Obesidor will surely banish me from Zumbaland, never to return again. If I gain a pound, Time Gremlins will turn the clock back and forth until I weigh 330lbs by Monday. If I have to postpone a hike, the very mountains will be swallowed into the sea and I’ll be chained to my couch and condemned to a life of Netflix and chips. There is no room for moderation, kindness or humanity in the Kingdom of All or Nothing. It’s a terrible place to be and only a freak would spend time there if she didn’t have to. Which leads me to our next story.
Girl Who Was Not Like The Others
You’ve heard of the Elephant Man? Tarzan? The Bearded Lady? They’ve got nothing on Camie Leard. You see, I’m so very, very different from the other humans. While everyone else is out having a brilliant, fulfilling, thin, happy, healthy life, I’m the only one who has ever cried on the scale. I’m completely alone in my inability to say what’s on my mind for fear I’ll hurt the other humans or they’ll think I’m a bitch or I’ll get fired or worse. No one but me has ever wondered if people are just humouring me when they say nice things. Don’t get me wrong: this story serves me well too. I get to be a writer, musician, painter, blogger, executive, instigator and lots of other weird stuff because I’m not like everyone else. But the sad subplot of this story is the one that says I will never be a normal weight because I’m not normal. I’m not capable of a normal relationship with food. Even if I do what normal people do, I won’t have normal results.
In the Landmark education (take the Forum, already, would ya?) there’s a concept about story telling. How do we distinguish what’s so (the actual thing that happened) from the story about what’s so? And how can we benefit from doing that?
What’s so is that I lost 90lbs one time. What’s so is I’ve been on few diets. What’s so is that nine is a number that falls between eight and 10. What’s so is that there’s a lot of good food around at Christmas time. What’s so is that I missed Zumba. What’s so is that I haven’t blogged in three months and what’s so is that my weight has been relatively the same since November. That’s it. Taking the story away gives me a place to start from that’s real, concrete and not tied up in a bunch of falsehoods, drama and delirium. So, where do we go from here?
I think I’ll start by recognizing the disempowering stories when I’m telling them and commit to telling empowering stories instead. Like the time I climbed a mountain I had no business climbing or the time I put on my shoes and walked as far as I could…to the end of the block. Or the time I maintained a steady weight for three months straight (see what I did there?) Or the time I made an awesome veggie burger (that was today!). Or when I danced with a drag queen. Yeah, I totally did that.
In the meantime, tell me your stories! They help me and others in our Nourishing Camie community. We’d love to hear them.
Love and light,