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The Soul of Overeating

Raise your hand if you have a simple, loving, rainbows and butterflies relationship with your bod. And food. And weight. If you’re one of the rare women in this camp – oh my goddess, hallelujah.

And if not, I got you. It’s not you, it’s us. It’s one of the byproducts of being born into a feminine body inside a patriarchal culture.

One of the core initiatives of my work is to help us end the war women wage daily on our bodies. For real.

sarah_jenks1That’s why it makes me so relieved and hopeful to encounter people like Sarah Jenks – a sane, compassionate voice amidst a sea of body shaming nonsense.

I invited Sarah over to the blog today, to throw down some truth about the soul of overeating.

It is beyond time, Sisters, to take a deeper cut in the food conversation, and Sarah is right on track. I know you’ll love this post, and her. After you read it, leave a note to continue the conversation in the comments section!

Hi there sister,

I always feel at home here in Regena’s community. I spend a lot of time convincing people that diets don’t work and that being thin won’t make you happy. Although I love my mission to save women from a lifetime of vacant yo-yo dieting and debilitating self-hatred, it’s nice to be among women who “get it”.

You get that strict meal plans driven by hating your body will not lead to self-love and feeling alive. You get that feeling juicy and feminine has nothing to do with having a small waist and a tight ass. So, I’m going to use this opportunity to go deep with you.

Last Spring during our third Live More Weigh Less Mastery laser-coaching call, Shawna, a 42-year old mother of two who worked part-time as a yoga teacher, owned that she ate a sleeve of Oreo cookies while watching Grey’s Anatomy the night before. Shawna was so embarrassed because, like you, she “knew better”. She knew that gluten and sugar and processed food isn’t good for her body, she knew that there was probably an emotional component to eating 10 Oreos (although she couldn’t identify it) and she felt like such a fraud because “yoga teachers really shouldn’t eat gluten”.

She asked me what she could do that night to avoid eating the Oreos. “Should I just throw away all the sugar in the house? Should I take a bath instead?” Although these strategies are helpful, I had a feeling that Shawna’s eating habits were caused by something a lot deeper than a lack of baths.

This is what I told her.

My dear, the issue is not the cookies, you could eat ten oreos every night for the rest of your life and be fine. I am not concerned with the sugar or calories or how much weight you might gain or lose. Here’s what I am wondering: what are the Oreos trying to tell you? Why are they trying to get your attention so loudly? I mean, ten cookies! That’s a big effort.

You see, overeating isn’t just a bad habit; it’s a soul, a spirit, an energy like anything else. Many of us can feel the energy of mother earth and see her communicate through heavy rain or blooming flowers. Or the soul of a dog who gets our attention from barking.

The language of overeating is eating but the soul of overeating is like a boisterous, tell-it-like-it-is, fairy godmother who swoops down and says “WAKE UP! YOUR LIFE IS A MESS! YOU NEED TO TAKE A HARD LOOK AT WHAT YOU’RE DOING A MAKE SOME CHANGES. RIGHT NOW.”

I believe that everyone has a fairy godmother like this that visits us when we need her. Some of us have an alcohol fairy godmother or a stress fairy godmother. Our culture understands that an addiction to alcohol or chronic stress is a warning sign, but we’re taught that overeating is a weakness. So we hide out and try to control it only to encourage her to scream louder and louder.

My job is to give the Soul of Overeating a voice women can understand and to teach women how to really listen to her call.

When Shawna stopped and let herself consider why Overeating was screaming so loudly, she saw that she felt trapped in her life. She had convinced her husband to pay for a yoga teacher training and part-time day care for her kids so she could teach. But the reality was that she didn’t love teaching yoga as much as she thought, all of her free time was spent marketing her classes and she felt like she had very little left for her children. Her gas tank was drained from only working and being a Mom. It was incredibly painful to admit she had made some “bad choices” along the way and she felt guilty feeling stuck in a life that most women would die for, a life that she worked so hard to create. She revealed that focusing on losing weight and having the perfect diet was easier than taking an honest look at her life.

Here’s the deal, the Soul of Overeating holds us to a higher standard than anyone else. She knows when we are being authentic, living on purpose and being the real you. Anything less and she’s gonna come give you a lecture. You have to listen.

Sit with the pain and regret and explore what you would do if you had a clean slate. How would you spend your days if you had ultimate freedom and support? How would you express yourself? What do you need in order to be the best Mom, friend and wife? What do you need to feel whole?

Shawna was brave enough to explore what she deeply desired and wrote out a detailed vision of her life both in the present and future. She asked her soul how she really wanted to serve and if it was in the yoga world at all. She asked how she wants to parent and how much time she wants to spend with her kids. She explored what her body desires for nourishment and what her soul craves.

Instead of teaching two yoga classes in the morning and then picking up her kids at 1 o’clock everyday, she decided she much rather have them in daycare 3 full days and spend 2 full days with them during the week. She left the studio where she was teaching and developed a combo yoga and dance class that she taught in her living room two days a week. Since she made more money working for herself, she had more flexibility in her self care and took the third day to do a little marketing, get a massage and see her girlfriends making her feel filled up and joyful. She was surprised to find out that her husband didn’t care that she was taking time for herself while they were paying for child care, in fact, he loved it! It was only her own beliefs on what she “should” be doing that were holding her back.

Obviously, she stopped eating the Oreos, but the most important thing is that she listened and made a shift. If she had just forced another diet on herself she would have missed the magic of the Soul of Overeating.

sarah_jenks2There is so much available to you if you take the time to deepen in. I have a completely free training program to help you translate your overeating called the Live More Weigh Less Lifestyle Training Program. I would love for you to join me, and thousands of other women, on the path to figuring out what our overeating is trying to tell us and how to make changes.

You can join the training and our support group by clicking here.

And, you know, being a woman isn’t always easy and we need each other to move through some of these sticky spots. If you know someone who may find this helpful, I hope you’ll send her this article. Why stay on the surface when we can get deep and real with each other?

So great to connect with you here and I’m excited to continue working with you in my free program.

Love,

Sarah Jenks

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28 Comments / Leave a Comment

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  • Barby Bakke July 11, 2016, 1:02 am

    Insightful concept to see the overeating as a soul issue that can result in soul searching to find a new path in life. Thank you.

  • Trice June 8, 2016, 11:17 am

    Omg, LOVE THIS! …… but overeating isn’t my struggle. I definitely feel trapped in my life though, and have a habit of taking on tons of projects and seeking employment opportunities that are not a right fit for me- and I know it (!!!!) -___-. As a result, I am constantly over extended.
    I’m on a rat wheel that I put myself on. And I am down right terrified of taking myself off of it……….. God help me…… *tears*
    More specifically, it’s the fear of putting my foot down and telling my husband, family/ colleagues/ friends that this path isn’t right for me and facing the unknown…… sigh.

  • Sara V. June 8, 2016, 10:37 am

    Your message resonates deeply. Look at what has come up for people in response.

    I think that the more women-warriors we have who are committed to exploring this sticky, stinky realms, the better it is for the collective. OF COURSE women born into this culture have deep body hatred issues. OF COURSE our fat becomes a repository for unresolved emotions. IMO, until we have collective groups of enlightened witnesses, this shit is just going to stay stuck in both our bodies, and our psyches.

    Sarah Jenks is not the problem. One of my mentors teaches, “Patriarchy takes everything that is true about being human, and flips it upside down.” Pointing fingers at her, and diminishing her work, is EXACTLY the problem.

    Blessings on each of you and us who continue to do the brave work of battling the unresolved wounds in our collective un/conscious.
    Sara V.

  • Sarah Elizabeth Lahoud June 8, 2016, 9:49 am

    YES to all of this. What a great story, Sarah. I absolutely love it. I feel like my philosophies are really similar, and I love this analogy in terms of weight-loss and healthy eating.

    I totally, totally agree that it’s a message! I find my avoid-the-message habit is procrastinating, and that and overwhelm are two of the biggest things I see my clients struggle with to. But it’s all related. Procrastinating is just a way of holding yourself back and not feeling the negative feelings, not getting the message.

    Love this post <3

  • Laurie June 8, 2016, 8:56 am

    Your writing, Sarah, really resonated with me. Food and I have never been very good friends with each other. I see now that it is a bit easier to be friends with the food in my life and not to beat myself up over what I do and don’t eat. I loved all of what you said as it is very applicable to my life right now. Using the Tools of the Womanly Arts, I have been flirting with food – what fun is that!! Much easier on my body and my soul. Thank you!!

  • Deena June 7, 2016, 11:58 pm

    As one struggling with a binge eating disorder and type 2 diabetes I appreciate the insight into deeper unresolved issues as triggers. Thank you for sharing this story.

  • Anne June 7, 2016, 8:53 pm

    Dear Sarah,
    Thank you for the story you share in the blog post. Thank you for the insight around the overeating issue that many people struggle with and don’t even recognize. Your work takes one to a totally different level of conscienceness than society will support/tolerate, as many comments reflect. Your work speaks to those who are ready to dive in; it isn’t about loosing weight, it is about finding YOURSELF. Thank you for the gift that you offer in stepping out as YOUR unique self…not always an easy think to do.
    Love and Hugs,
    Anne

    • Sarah Jenks June 8, 2016, 11:40 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I love your openness and willingness to find your authentic self. If you want to connect more, email me here: support@sarahjenks.com. xo

  • Susie June 7, 2016, 7:38 pm

    BTW, I became healthier (& lost 35#) without counting one calorie or point. Weight Watchers has many options, so that the individual can learn what’s best for her.

    • Andi June 8, 2016, 6:46 am

      You have no idea what this article is about. There is being overweight because of unhealthy eating and I am sure weight watchers can easily help that. And there is a different kind of addiction to food which is what this article is about. and that is not as simple to solve as following a weight watchers routine. I think you should count yourself lucky that you can not relate to this.

  • Thea June 7, 2016, 7:07 pm

    We often turn to food for fulfillment that it can never deliver.
    We strive for thinness, which cannot deliver true fulfillment either.
    Learning to live from genuine fulfillment brings food, weight, and health into perspective. It sounds like THAT is what Sara is promoting, after watching her intro video (although as an Eating Disorder Dietitian, “weigh less” in the title did raise concern that this was diet mentality in disguise).

  • Becca June 7, 2016, 5:07 pm

    I have been a comfort eater and had an eating disorder my entire life. Bulimia almost took my life as I took the phone into the bathroom, crying, hoping that I didn’t have to call the ambulance and apologizing to my children if they lost me. It was horrible and consuming. I entered a treatment facility and got some amazing support and help. It can be a very serious problem and disease that isn’t “fixed” by a few videos, so if you have a serious issue PLEASE get help and support!!! You are loved and understood!!!!! Much much love!!!!

    • Thea June 7, 2016, 7:13 pm

      YES, Becca, yes! Eating disorders are the most deadly mental illness, and anyone deeply entrenched should seek treatment from a team (MD, therapist, RD) with expertise in the field.

  • Jane June 7, 2016, 4:01 pm

    It’s time fat women stop perpetuating this myth that they love being fat. One of you cried in my arms in Inner Circle when getting naked and stroked by roses. I’ve been fat and I’ve been a normal weight and a normal weight is a whole lot better.

    Guess what! Dieting and being fat are not the only options is life! You can learn to eat delicious whole foods and not have sugar cravings and not have to suffer, be depressed, or accept the fat.

    Sugar and processed foods not only make you fat, but the affect your brain chemistry and your gut flora which in turn affects your hormones which makes or breaks your fat.

    I see a picture of a bunch of fat girls. I’m not fat shaming. I’m fake shaming. Put yourself on a lie detector test and let’s ask if you really love being fat.

    • Daria June 7, 2016, 6:05 pm

      Jane, how has your comment helped? I do all of the things you suggest – hell, I grow my own food and make all the wholesome things and portion control and and and…and I’m still fat. And based on 30+ years of very committed dieting I have equally committed metabolic disfunctions. What’s left? Loving myself. Maybe reconsider how you relate to yourself? Your words to others tell me you may not want Oreos but you have sublimated anger all the same and it’s spilling out onto your peers. I hope beyond all hope the women you were meant to be supporting in tears doesn’t see your comment. Being vulnerable is hard enough without shame for why we are vulnerable. May the healing you need find you.

    • Sara V. June 8, 2016, 10:50 am

      How DARE us larger women try to learn to love and accept ourselves!!!
      Mine as well just kill ourselves!!

      But, seriously Jane. It sounds like you have more work to do on being able to hold space for other peoples’ pain. You’re going to these Inner Circles, so obviously you want healing and/or want to help others heal. Why are you focusing on her fat being the source of her pain? If she was a different size, what would you be fixated on as a result of her pain or tears? If she weren’t white, would you ask her to change her skin color?

      The medicine is in learning to love ourselves, NOW. If we can’t love ourselves now, we won’t be able to stop hurting ourselves.

      Fat is a result of a spectrum of psychological, spiritual, emotional, and somatic experiences that span a woman’s lifetime. If overeating and struggles with weight, body size, and body image aren’t one of your problems, good for you! (But I bet you have other ways you struggle with self-loathing–because ALL HUMANS DO.)

      Honestly, I found your comment hateful. I’m sorry that a picture of fashionable, smiling, close and in-arms women (women, not “girls”) was so upsetting to you. Maybe you should look at that.

  • Susie June 7, 2016, 2:28 pm

    My goodness, Weight Watchers has been doing this work for years, and keeps getting better. They keep up with the latest in science having to do with health, including behavior science.
    No restricted diets or regimes, but learning how to find optimal living, in an ongoing supportive setting. Why else would Oprah be interested?

    • Sarah Jenks June 7, 2016, 3:20 pm

      Hi Susie- I appreciate all the things Weight Watchers has done for people, including Oprah. My program is unique as it doesn’t count calories or points when eating. It mostly addresses the feelings and triggers behind the emotional eating while supporting people to live more, add more joy to their life, and enjoy the life they have.
      I hope this helps clarify things for you. If you want to connect more, email me at support@sarahjenks.com.

  • Mir June 7, 2016, 12:35 pm

    Loved this -very much me, always searching for who I really am…. Food is such a grounding force. I agree with the above comment – and hope that I might come out from this programming saying I “Live More, Weigh Less Emotionally” 🙂 …

    • Sarah Jenks June 7, 2016, 2:37 pm

      Hi Mir, I am so glad to hear it resonates with you and I hope you check out the videos in the link above.

      Please feel free to reach out if you’re having any trouble or just to connect with us at support@sarahjenks.com. xo

  • Leila June 7, 2016, 12:28 pm

    Why does it say “completely free program” if it requires a payment before it tells you anything?

    • Sarah Jenks June 7, 2016, 2:25 pm

      Hi Leila, I’ve just released these 3 free videos and trainings absolutely free of charge. When you click the link above once you enter your name and email you get instant access to the first video in this series.

      If you’re having any trouble, please don’t hesitate to email us at support@sarahjenks.com so we can help get you access! xo

  • Ruby Red June 7, 2016, 12:17 pm

    Wow, after all the positive encouragement written here about not worrying too much about eating 10 oreos, etc., not beating yourself up about it, and pointing out that eating 10 oreos means you are unhappy and need some life changes…. then we are advised to click on “Live More, WEIGH LESS!” Yikes. Weigh less? I thought Mama just said having a tiny waist and tight ass is not gonna solve our problems. Disappointing, and not too body positive.

    • Sarah Jenks June 7, 2016, 2:22 pm

      Hi Ruby,

      In Live More Weigh Less, weighing less isn’t about your physical weight. It’s about shedding the emotional weight and extra stuff that we carry around in so many areas in our life. I believe in eating for optimal energy, but it’s not about a restrictive meal plan or counting calories. Quite the opposite, actually. My philosophy is all about creating a life that you love and taking exceptional care of yourself. I hope that helps clarify for you and if you want to connect more, please email me at support@sarahjenks.com.

      • Crina June 8, 2016, 1:39 pm

        I would change the name to Live more! Live light! or LiveLight!

  • maria lapertosa June 7, 2016, 12:14 pm

    i would love to hear more on this topic. This is me in a nutshell!

    • Sarah June 7, 2016, 1:01 pm

      Hi Maria,
      We would love to have you join us and get more info to you. Here is a link to the site: http://livemoreweighless.com/
      Also, please email my team with any questions: support@sarahjenks.com
      Hugs,

    • Sarah Jenks June 7, 2016, 2:39 pm

      Hi Maria, I would love you to find out more! Please visit the link above in the post to listen and watch the videos in the comfort of your own space. After watching, you can always reach out to me with any thoughts or questions at support@sarahjenks.com. Big hugs to you!