Women, Food and God author Geneen Roth is answering your questions to help you find your own path to a full and healthy life. Get her advice and end your war with weight today!
Q: My good friend and ex-personal trainer—who is also a life coach specifically regarding women and how they relate to self-image and food—recommended your book. I'm on my second reading and am learning so much from it; however, I'm stuck on "obsession." I was a bodybuilder in my mid 20s and loved working out and eating well. I didn't even think about the word "diet." I simply ate well and stopped when I was full. However, when I hit my 30s, I began obsessing about food. During that time, it was all about restriction, and I become anorexic. Then I began eating constantly. I gained weight, would look at a photo of myself, hate myself and diet. Last year, I was in excellent shape; I was working out consistently (but not overdoing it), eating well and listening to my body. I even went to Bikini Bootcamp in Tulum, Mexico, where my ex-trainer and friend was working. I was living totally in the present there, the past was the past and in every moment I was totally and unequivocally present. I was extremely happy and felt so blessed, so free and so spiritually attuned.
Fast-forward six months: I stopped working out, stopped caring about what I ate, ate when I was not hungry, just zombied out (and still am). When I read a book that has to do with food, I become even more obsessed with food—why is that? I am constantly thinking about food—the shoulds and shouldn'ts, the oughts and ought-nots. How do I get past the obsession and allow myself to live in the present moment? I long desperately to be the woman I was 10 months ago, loving myself and accepting who I am. How do I get back to "me"?
— Debora H., Moscow, Idaho
The past is over—gone, kaput. As lovely as it was when you were in touch with yourself, that was then. We can't go back, recreate, revisit or otherwise step into how it used to be. You always need to begin where you are—here, now. The path I talk about in Women, Food and God is not about getting past the obsession— it's about using it to learn more about yourself. You become curious about what you are doing and what your actions express about your thoughts and beliefs. It's a completely different orientation than wanting to get past, fix or get rid of it. Because it's a reflection of us, food is a way to find out more about ourselves. What we learn changes how we feel about ourselves and, by doing that, changes our relationship with food itself. So here's my question in response to your question: Are you curious about what you do with food? Do you want to use your actions to find out more about what you believe about your whole life? Are you willing to stop trying to fix the obsession and see it as an accurate expression of your attitude toward having enough, not having enough, feeling deserving, feeling unworthy—things like that? And if you are, check out the chapter on inquiry (and the instructions in the back of the book) and give yourself a pat on the back as you start your journey!
Geneen Roth's books were among the first to link compulsive eating and perpetual dieting with deeply personal and spiritual issues that go far beyond food, weight and body image. She believes that we eat the way we live and that our relationships to food, money and love are exact reflections of our deeply held beliefs about ourselves and the amount of joy, abundance, pain and scarcity we believe we have (or are allowed) to have in our lives.
Geneen has appeared on many national television shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, The NBC Nightly News, The View and Good Morning America. Articles about Roth and her work have appeared in numerous publications, including O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Time, Elle, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has written a monthly column in Good Housekeeping magazine since 2007. Roth is the author of eight books, including The New York Times best-seller When Food Is Love and a memoir about love and loss, The Craggy Hole in My Heart.Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything is her newest book.