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It’s Not a Diet, it’s a SOUL-LIT!




There’s a sketch from MadTV that I think of a lot. A man & woman are seated at a restaurant, and the woman is, she insists loudly, not on a DIET, she’s on a LIVE IT. The woman, played brilliantly by Nicole Sullivan, is obviously hungry to the point of weakness, but she can’t/won’t order anything on the menu because of the LIVE IT she’s on. The joke, of course, is that she insists that her ridiculously strict eating plan not be referred to as a “diet” because it has the word “die” in it and that’s negative. No, her plan is a LIVE IT because it’s designed to help her live better — so positive! But she’s hungry, she’s angry, and she’s unpleasant.

I don’t want to be any of those things.

Still, my mind returns to that sketch often, as it does to a host of MadTV sketches (for my money, more consistently funny than SNL). As is so often the case, the humor comes from the fact that there’s at least a kernel of truth in the idea.

I’ve long been opposed to “diets.” Other than not eating meat because of spiritual objections, I haven’t generally imposed a lot of boundaries on my consumption, and that’s been a good and bad thing. It’s been good in that, although I wasn’t ever happy with my body, I also wasn’t constantly contorting myself to follow some diet plan.

However, as 2020 began, I was in poor health, and my consumption was largely to blame. I was 40 lbs overweight, and I drank and ate way too much — and when I say “too much,” that’s by my own standards. I was unhealthy and I felt terrible, physically and mentally. I was thoroughly disappointed in myself and what I’d (not) accomplished in my 47 years. I’ve written about it at length, and it’s not really the point of this article, so I’ll leave it at that.

But I would like to point out a few things I learned from that time — and really from my entire life until quite recently — that I’ve not fully articulated, in part because I’ve not fully understood them until lately.

1.) My Sensitivities Have Made Me More Vulnerable than Most

I realize now that I’m “highly sensitive.” Truthfully, it’s taken me a while to get used to the moniker. As a gen-Xer raised in Texas, calling someone “highly sensitive” sounds like a taunt. Nonetheless, it’s a real thing.

Just as some people are more sensitive to the sun than others, and some are more sensitive to nut allergies than others, some of us are more sensitive to, well, most things. It’s as if our nerve endings are raw, waving around like antennae in the midst of contaminated throngs of people and things with various levels of hygiene. We sensitive types are the ones who end up getting sick, whether physically, spiritually, or emotionally, while the majority go about their business without incident, clucking their tongues at us for not being more “careful” or “immune” or, I don’t know, more something.

When I was growing up, people like me were called “prissy” or “spoiled” or “snotty” or “dramatic,” not highly sensitive. We were told to “toughen up.” I suspect that a lot of us are now dead as a result of that treatment; I feel it’s my duty to live for them now, those casualties of an insensitive world.

While what I was consuming may not be so horrible for everyone, it was for me. Again, I stress the “for me” part because one of my central tenets is “one size fits all is a lie.” In my practice as a writer, as a spiritual habits coach, a teacher, a woman, and a human, I’ve discovered that I can be most helpful to others when I’m most truthful and specific about my experiences. While one size doesn’t fit all, every size fits some. So I share my truths and hope that they will be of use to someone.

2.) It’s ALL Energy, Baby

I’m not a scientist, but I believe Tesla and Einstein when they say that everything is energy.

Original artwork by the author

“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”~ Albert Einstein

What we take in, what we put out — it’s all energy, moving at different vibrations. And prior to 2021, my energy was off. Way off. Did I contribute to that screwed-up energy? You bet I did. Do I blame myself for it? Nope. I had figured out maladaptive, unhealthy methods to protect myself from the pain that I experienced just by being alive. When those ways stopped protecting me, I was able to let them go, and able to trust that I could build healthy habits to replace them. That moment of letting what had worked (albeit jankily) but ultimately failed me go in favor of something I wasn’t sure I could do? That was my moment of grace, when I found the faith in myself to step forward into the unknown and to really, really try to live a life worth living.

I knew then that my diet, meaning everything I consumed, would have to change in order to get my energy right.

It wasn’t just the food & drink part of my diet that was unhealthy for me. It was my consumption habits generally. It’s not that what I was consuming was inherently bad, by some moral judgment, but it was unhealthy. For me.

Science confirms the notion that our daily ‘diet’ is not just made up of what we put in our mouth. We are what we let in with our eyes, our ears, and our mind, too,” writes Michael Rucker, PhD., in his article Have You Considered Going on a Fun Diet?

As for me, I was taking in way too much sugar. Way too much alcohol. Way too much negative news, depressing films & books, and music that didn’t feed my soul. My entertainment choices were neutral, at best, I rarely exercised, and all of that was having a really bad effect on my health.

3.) Fixing Your Environment Can Enable You to Thrive

Think of a house plant. When it begins to show signs of distress (drooping/brown leaves, etc), the logical reaction is to look at its environment. Is it getting enough light? Too much? How about water? To ask why the plant doesn’t behave better would be absurd.

The plant’s health and well-being are a product of the suitability of its environmental factors (another way to say diet). The plant’s not bad, and the environmental factors aren’t necessarily bad, they’re just not a match. Move the plant, change its diet, and it will react accordingly.

I approached my own recovery thusly. I had to assess my energy consumption and expenditure. On a large scale. What were my environmental factors doing to me? What was giving me joy? What was draining my energy? Gradually, that assessment led to even deeper questions to myself: what did I want out of life? who would I be if my trauma and mental illness hadn’t interfered? how could I become her?

Once I answered those questions, it was easier to sort out the questions of daily energy exchange (or diet, if you like). I’d simply ask myself the question, “does this align with my greater life goal/mission? Would my better version of myself do this?” That method continues to serve me in all areas of my life.

I shan’t lie — the change wasn’t overnight. But I began to feel differences throughout my life rather quickly, and that encouraged me to carry on in my efforts. By late 2021, I was reaping serious benefits.

Original image by the author.

Like the character in the aforementioned MadTV skit, I loathe the word diet. However, my program of regulating my consumption based on my own assessment of the joy and productivity it yielded has dramatically improved — if not saved — my life.

Silliness for its own sake is something I’ve come to appreciate more since I started living this way, and for that reason I’ve elected to call my program a “soul-lit” as opposed to a diet, because when I live this way, my soul is lit!

Things to Remember When Embarking on Your Soul-Lit

1. Be Patient with Yourself

This is not a crash diet. This is a lifestyle overhaul. This is a rebirth of your ever-loving soul, Sweetheart. You’re endeavoring to build new neural pathways. Give yourself a minute.

“Neural pathways, comprised of neurons connected by dendrites, are created in the brain based on our habits and behaviors. The number of dendrites increases with the frequency a behavior is performed. I picture these neural pathways as deep grooves or roads in our brain. Our brain cells communicate with each other via a process called ‘neuronal firing,’” writes Fit4D in the article The Neuroscience of Behavior Change. “It is estimated that it takes 3–6 months for a new behavior to become a habit, though this estimate varies by person.”

If it were as easy as flipping a switch, everybody would do it. Have faith in yourself and know that you’re making permanent improvements in every facet of your life. You’re worth the effort.

2. Protect Your Energy (like a mama bear).

Dr. Rucker writes, “Our daily ‘fun diet’ of interactions and activities should be balanced (just like eating a balanced diet) so that at the end of the day, the scale tips in our favor. If you spend a considerable amount of time socializing with people who always complain and bring you down, you might actually ‘catch’ their negativity. This concept is linked with the concept of emotional contagion, first described by Dr. Elaine Hatfield, one of the pioneers of relationship science. Dr. Hatfield and her colleagues (Hatfield et al., 1993) work show that we can get emotionally ‘infected’ hanging out with certain people and/or observing their experience,” writes Rucker.

So you’ve got to be ruthless about protecting your precious energy, Love. If it doesn’t somehow increase your peace, it’s got to go. Jobs, friends, food, family, habits…nothing is worth your peace and joy. NOTHING. It might take some time to root it out, but don’t waver. You know what’s best for you. Make room for it by getting rid of what isn’t best for you.

3. You Do You, Boo

This is your life, and the only measure of worth and value that matters is yours. Remember that the capitalist patriarchy is literally designed to make us feel bad about ourselves. Trillions of dollars flow into the hands of grubby, ill-intentioned people every year because they’ve succeeded in making us feel like we need to spend money on their gewgaws in order to be worthy of love, or of even taking up a tiny bit of space on the planet.

I’m here to tell you what you already know — the divine is within you, and that’s all the guidance you need to succeed at your own soul-lit.

Trusting myself enough to take a leap of faith, believing that a Better Version of Me was possible if I put my entire self into manifesting her, that’s been the ingredient I needed to jump the timeline once and for all.

Earlier this year, I realized that my mission in life is to help other women & girls who are stuck like I was, who just need a soul-Lit to get them on the path the being Better Versions of Themselves. That’s why I became a certified habit coach at Coach.me, and why I offer courses for women about Empowering Your Magical Self through my website.

If you’d like support and accountability while building your own soul-lit, let’s talk. I’d love to help you become a better version of your magical self!

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