From ancient times to Modern Day America people have celebrated the harvest. In less-technologically advanced ages, the Harvest also meant canning, storing, and hunting for the leaner winter ahead. For ancient cultures, the harvest and its abundance were cues to be resourceful.
During my dieting days, I never looked at times of abundance, whether with food or work, as ways to be resourceful. I equated resourcefulness with Spartanism: staying within self-appointed calorie limits, exercising six days a week, and avoiding occasions—such as dinner with friends and parties— where my “will power” would fail. Fun wasn’t possible anyway, until I arrived at my goal weight. Life would be one huge party then. Eventually with exhaustion and frustration from my efforts, I’d go back to my old eating habits.
Then, I didn’t realized that abundance could teach me resourcefulness. The hints were less than subtle that, just as during harvest time, I needed to do some hard and clever work. But, I needed to direct my energy towards improving other areas of my life, not towards diets and the treadmill. As I found and focused on other pleasures, food, previously at the center of my life, dwindled in significance.
This happened through a process of sowing, reaping, and storing. It started with small action: leaving my laptop at work to focus on other outside interests which made me more productive in fewer hours, committing to spending an hour or so outside of my apartment after work instead of in front of the TV. These early success provided the momentum that eventually lead to a complete career and life shift. Still, figuring out these small first steps is the hardest.
A good starting point to planting a better life is to ask: “What am I only tolerating in my life?” Then decide which easy changes will make the most of where you are in life now. My clients are always shocked at what these beginning steps reveal and the changes they set in motion—both in their weight and their lifestyle. And, just as rationing and storing seems a paradoxical response to abundance, doing what is initially frightening can result in feeling secure. As you become more resourceful, you become confident that you can handle whatever life throws your way. You begin to make decisions from a place of empowerment, not fear.
So in honor of both Halloween and the Harvest, I challenge you to do one thing that scares you this October. Say no to a dreaded and unnecessary obligation. Leave your work laptop at the office one or two nights a week. Hire a cleaning service to take something off your plate. Spend an evening confronting your closet and make it reflect your identity now. You may be surprised at the bumper crops that result from planting these few seeds.
To a home-made harvest,
P.S. – In response to an abundance of requests from people outside of Philadelphia and my Truce with Food Program selling out early, I am offering a virtual lunch hour Truce with Food by phone beginning on Thursday, October 20th by phone. This group will also be limited so please reserve early to preserve your spot.