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Finding the Place of Thinner Peace

June 18, 2010

I suspect most post-menopausal women confront body image issues regardless of whether we’re thin or fat or somewhere in between. In spite of our best efforts, the hormonal changes that take place during and after menopause change the way our body works and ultimately looks. Our skin is no longer supple and everything loses its shape. Hence, baggy arm flesh, saggy boobs, weight around the middle, and the rest. We’ve lost all control over that stuff and we don’t like it one bit. Most of us spend a lot of time and energy fighting it and trying to change fate.

The fact remains, we will never be young again, at least in this life! But, we do have a choice. We can resist and struggle to change the things we cannot change and be miserable or embrace who and what we are and make peace with the aging process. Even when we can’t change a thing in life, we can change our thinking about the thing.

In the book The Four Day Win, Martha Beck describes the different thought processes that we have when we are trying to lose weight (or change anything about ourselves). Our self talk consists of  a “dictator”, which is the voice in our heads that tells us what we should do and yells at us when we don’t do it. We have the “wild child” that is rebellious and just wants to feel good and have fun. The dictator brings the wild child out in most of us sooner or later. When we’re dieting and trying to lose weight we oscillate between the two. Our dictator beats us into submission for a while and then our wild child gets fed up and leads us on a romp of carefree indulgence. When we’re finished romping, we come home to a dictator that scolds us. Hence the yo- yo diet plan!

There is another option. We can mentally step away from these two voices.  Each voice is trying its best to help us with our problem. Each cares, in its own way about our health and happiness. Beck suggests offering these parts of ourselves our appreciation and love giving each a blessing such as:  “May you be well, may you be happy, may you be free from suffering.”

This voice, the one that speaks to the dictator and to the wild child is the place of thinner peace. Martha Beck calls it the “Watcher” . It is the voice that will effectively lead us along our path toward health and happiness, not only in our attempts to lose weight but in  learning to accept the wise and wonderful women that we are.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2010 3:31 pm

    Learning to treat ourselves with loving kindness is key. Some days are better than others, for sure. This past week I watched myself over indulge big time, as well as love every minute of it. And today I watch myself get back on track. May I do the same with my exercise plan. Not there yet. When I over ate this past week, I knew that I would be able to lose whatever excess weight I gained without trouble. This was a big step for me.

    • June 18, 2010 6:02 pm

      Taking small steps one at a time will get you where you want to go, you should be very proud of the progress you have made.

      We sometimes become depleted and feel the need to fill ourselves with food. It’s a deep seated instinct that has kept us alive for thousands of years and is not easy to turn off. Nurturing ourselves in other ways can help us get back on track. It is a thing I need to practice. Thanks for your comment. I love hearing your thoughts.

  2. June 18, 2010 9:38 pm

    There is no point pining for what used to be. We no longer ‘have to attract a partner’, so now is the time to enjoy being ourselves and being the best we can be at whatever we want to be. Some people find keeping a gratitude journal helps them to taking each day as it comes and to relish their lives.

  3. Ellen permalink
    June 19, 2010 4:23 pm

    Thank you for your blog – how refreshing.

    I have no interest in being “thin” and personally don’t like the word as thin does not equate with health. That said, having just started yoga at age 52, I realize the middle age belly is in the way and needs to go, (not just for yoga of course) and it’s not as easy to lose it as it once was. But I have a choice in yoga class, to stand in front of the mirror and focus on the belly, or remind myself to praise the effort, for learning to stand taller, getting in touch with the core, and stretch the mind and body.

    Martha Beck’s discussion of the “dictator” self-talk reminds me of the book Life Without Ed (a book for women with disordered eating), the voice in the head (ED=eating disorder) ….

    Judith Beck titled a book ” The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person.” Why should we think as a thin person? Why can’t we think as a “healthy” person? With her experience and training, I felt the title was inappropriate.

    A magnificent and unique book is “Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling” by Anita Johnston. Have you read it?

    There’s simply nothing productive about belittling and berating ourselves as women. And while trying to get rid of old habits of negative self-talk, we can learn the very empowering ability to reframe and rephrase the negative. We can learn to let go of what is beyond our control and retrain ourselves to focus on what we want and CAN accomplish. Each of us has a myriad of strengths that can be identified and acknowledged consistently and regularly.

    It’s time too for the media to embrace the richness that comes from aging, experience, knowledge, wisdom etc.

    Music can also be a wonderful boost of energy when times feel particularly challenging. Helen Reddy had it right so long ago “I am woman, hear me roar” – and here’s an old video of her singing.

    • June 19, 2010 4:42 pm

      Thank you Ellen for your thoughtful response. I have not read the Anita Johnson book you talked about and will look for a copy. I agree with your thoughts on “thin” vs. healthy. I wonder how we can change societies way of viewing this as well ~ I do believe advertising drives the warped view of what is good. Healthy is becoming a more prevalent element but thin is so well entrenched ~ and in the female psyche of generations.

  4. June 21, 2010 7:54 pm

    Hello! These are thoughts all women can benefit from. Are any of us really prepared for being 50 once we’ve been 20?!?! Somehow, I don’t think so! So we learn by trial and error about the changes that are so often inevitable but unwelcome. Loving our spirit selves is the key. A book on my Will-Read-Soon-Shelf is Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth. She’s on Twitter if anyone wants to follow her and will be on Oprah July 12th to talk about her book again. I’m glad you are talking about these issues on your blog. So very important and life-saving. Also, thanks for visiting Sunny Room Studio, always a pleasure to have you there! Left a link to you blog in my reply comment. Take care … see you soon, Daisy

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