Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Respect For Eating

An essential element of physical transformation is an understanding of why you want to change.  On the surface the pursuit of a good figure is simply a matter of getting approval from yourself, and from a culture that believes that slender bodies are pleasant to look at, and to live in.   If you were born naturally slender, you can pass "Go", collect your $200.00, and focus on what you want to do with your life.  If you're like me on the other hand, you'll have to find a way of eating and moving that will free you to live the life you want in the body you've envisioned.

Lately, I've been considering the similarity between being naturally slender, and having talent.  As an actor, I struggled for years with the fact that, although the understanding of character, movement, and the language of the playwright came to me as naturally as breathing, the body that would make me appeal the most to producers, especially film and television producers, was always just out of reach.  During the years I spent in Los Angeles, I spent many hours rehearsing parts and studying, and I admit that I believed that acting technique, especially the technique called "The Method" was something that actors had to resort to in the absence of natural talent.  When I was feeling especially harsh, I would say that The Method had to be developed in order to get beautiful people with no talent to deliver decent performances on camera.  Bitter much?  Um, yeah.

The truth is that in life and art technique has always been required to bring out the best in what we do.  Now I realize that just as I had to learn technique in order to sing and dance better than a talented amateur, I need to have a powerful technique to deal with the impulses that urge me to eat more food than my body needs for optimum heath and appearance.  Yes, it gives me a twinge of conscience to write that I want optimum appearance, but I might as well admit it, because it is one of the foundations of the work I've been doing for the past four years.

One of the clearest, most studied, and admired teachers of the acting technique known as the method was Uta Hagen who wrote "Respect For Acting" in 1973.  It was this book that helped me to put away the scorn for  long exercises in sense memory that I had developed  in acting school, and to realize that without technique acting is just a game of chance, an exercise in self indulgence for someone who just happens to look and sound good onstage.

Just yesterday, as I made the clear choice to wait until I was seated at the dining table to take the first bite of my breakfast, the phrase, "Respect For Eating" popped into my head.  I knew in that moment that it was time to develop a strong clear technique for dealing with food and appetite in order to reach my goals, and to help my clients reach theirs.  Slenderness and satiety do not come naturally to me.  I don't have a natural talent for getting full and pushing away from the table.  So much of this blog has been focused on inspiration and intrinsic motivation, but change happens through specific action.  Or even better, many specific, positive actions linked together over time.

The Foundation of My Technique

It is time to treat food with the respect it deserves.  If I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, without negative consequences, I wouldn't have to develop techniques for managing my appetite.  Turns out that I do have to, and I take up the challenge gladly because I know I'm not alone.  What are the specific actions I will take due to my newfound respect for food?

1.  I will plan my meals and menus every day before breakfast.
2. I will only eat at the table at my chosen meal and snack times.
3. I will take time before each meal and snack to express gratitude for what I am about to eat.

There is nothing new or revolutionary in this technique.  What is brand new is my acceptance that actions like these are vital if I am to reach my goal, and if I am going to maintain the confidence to help others reach theirs.  Oh my, it sounds like I'm taking myself terribly seriously here.  No, not really, I'm just treating myself with respect.

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