Such a simple word with so many complex meanings. I have two levels of “fullness” when it comes to food; empty or stuffed. There is no middle ground. In my personal life I feel fullness often… in my work and in my relationships. The feeling of personal fullness ebbs and flows but I am usually on the “stuffed” side of personal fullness. But the feeling of being FULL when referring to food is rarely something I experience. I recently have come to understand and recognize a third level of fullness, “Just Enough”. This too has been very illusive…almost an enigma like creature that once recognizes shape shifts into other feelings and emotions. I am searching desperately for this feeling throughout my day and even when I am mindfull and paying attention to finding this feeling it is often mistaken. Why is it so difficult to understand “full’? I am the only one who struggles with defining this place of fullness?
The answer is no. I have known this but only through awkward and weird conversations with friends and family. When you are the only one going back for seconds…when everyone else is clutching their bellies with a look agony but you feel fine…when someone asks you if you have had enough you respond with “Yes?” Then there are times when I am not going back for seconds and others are or when I am feeling content and others are not. Finding this fullness balance is a struggle for many. Turns out a lady named Kimber Simpkims also struggles with finding her fullness as well. I picked up this book the other day at Barnes and Noble, continuing my quest for understanding of why I am the way I am when it comes to food. Here is what the inner cover claims this book is all about:
In this inspiring and captivating memoir, Kimber Simpkins captures vividly—with piercing insight, raw emotion, and often humor—the all-consuming hunger she felt on a daily basis as a result of an eating disorder. Sick of dieting and hating her body, Simpkins decides to get to the bottom of her unhappy relationship with her body. That’s when she discovers the healing power of yoga and Buddhism.
Along the way, Simpkins realizes her hunger isn’t simply physical, but that it comes from a place deep inside her. Through the wise teachings of yoga and meditation, Simpkins discovers she doesn’t have to live in a prison of self-dissatisfaction. In fact, by understanding the root of her pain and learning to love herself in body, mind, and spirit, Simpkins is able to truly set herself free.
As she wrestles with her inner demons of hunger and perfectionism and learns how self-acceptance can soften even her toughest inner critic, Simpkins takes us along on her voyage of self-discovery. At its core, this book is a journey to find true self-fulfillment that will inspire readers in their own search to create a full and meaningful life.
OK SWEET! Someone who also shares my “full” issues! I bought the book excited to learn about Kimbers’ struggles and how she overcame them! Perhaps there will be some gems that I can gleam and make my own! But once I started reading I got the sense I was being lead down a path that did NOT relate to me…Kimber is a recovering anorexic! Sweet Jesus…just when I think I am getting somewhere… The intro promised to shed some light on how she overcame her disorder and found peace with herself and her fullness, saying “If what you want is a real life story about how difficult it is to undo years of hating oneself and how frustrating it is to unravel the habits that make it hard to do anything but fall back into the same old ruts, you’re in the right place.” OK fine…there are pieces of that statement that I can agree with…the bad habits and falling back into them…FINE Kimber I will read on but under protest. As I was reading the first few chapters I saw little of myself in her and her struggle. I could not go a day without food…just not going to happen. What I did find a twin-like resemblance to was her feelings on hunger and being full. She says “But that feeling of being endlessly hungry at the all-you-can-eat buffet table of life never went away…I assumed this was what everybody’s life was :everyone went around being hungry all the time, doing the best they could not to eat everything in sight…Life is hell, and hell is being hungry” Oh…ok…so maybe this book will kinda be about me..maybe I CAN get some direction and light out of this one! The she stated her goal: “Could i figure out how to not be hungry all the time? No way. But if some people could do it, why not me? Could I sit down at a meal and push away my plate, full and satisfied, without the wish that I could just repeat the whole experience of eating over again, right then?” WHOA. OK Kimber…are we doppelgängers? Were we separated a birth?
Let me set the stage a bit. I am constantly hungry. Maybe not ever second of every day but hunger is the largest part of my day. Sure…sometimes I will eat a meal and feel completely satisfied. Sometimes I can go days with that feeling. But hunger is always there in the darkest parts of my insides…it’s creeps around in my brain and on my tongue all day long. I can LOOK at something I like and instantly feel like someone who is genuinely starving. I get, like, HANGRY…angry and hungry all at the same time. My whole world can shut down until I get some food. Kimbers struggle is even more severed than mine. She is never full..is constantly hungry…could just eat and eat and eat. I do reach a point where I just can’t do anymore. I should say I USED TO do these things and feel this way. I m slowing coming to realize that third level of fullness, “just enough”. I am starting to listen to my body and actually do what it is telling me to do which usually is to stop eating. None the less, I felt a connection to this author unlike many I have felt before.
Ultimately, I would like to feel full all the time. I want hunger to be a mild sensation that comes at healthy intervals and just says “Hey..hi…how are you? How has your day been? Anything fun or interesting? How is ________? So its 3pm…I was thinking about enjoying some __________ or some __________ because I know that not only will it make you feel good but it wont fill you up too much that you don’t fell good. It is also super nutritious and will give you the energy to knock out that 90 minute vinyasa class in a few hours. How does that sound? Should I call and make reservations? OH YES I will ask for the widow seat! Ok awesome..see you in like 10 minutes!” Wouldn’t that be AWESOME. I think it would be awesome. So that is where I want to be…where my ultimate food/hunger/full goal lies. How I get there…not to sure at the moment.
David has helped me get around the cravings…he has helped teach me how to put up a huge roadblock between my additions and cravings in the moment. How to give my thinking brain time to intervene before my non-thinking part of the brain takes complete control of every system and sense and eats that __________ staring back at me. But we have not talked about this part…how to feel full all the time. That will be on the agenda from this point forward. Maybe Kimber could have some advice for me there?
Gems from Full:
- Stop comparing what everyone else is eating to what you are eating. You are not thing…you are not their body. You have no idea what their body requires/needs/wants/demands. Just think and focus on your own food…your own plate…you own hunger.
- Don’t hold yourself in two spaces at once. Meaning don’t judge yourself cruelly for what you are eating or how you look while simultaneously not able to resist the next bite. It’s called addiction and in the words of Rick James, Its a HELLA drug.
- People who love you physically love you just the way you are. Sure…you can’t believe it..you might even think they are crazy. But its the truth. Stop asking yourself why.
- You are fat/heavy/fluffy/round/pudgy/stuffed for a reason. Find that reason. And don’t go looking for it at a medical doctors office. You hold the key to your own salvation. you just have to start digging around inside yourself.
- Stop being impatient with yourself…stop giving yourself such a hard time. This shit is hard. Recognize the hardness of it all and figure out a nicer way to talking to yourself.
- “Every diet I have been on has left its mark: Eat fresh fruit, font eat fresh fruit, ear whole wheat bread, don’t eat bread at all. As a result I have no idea what my body really needs.” PREACH ON. The goal is not to find a “diet” that will fix all. Once you understand why you do the things that you do in terms of food you will discover that it is not really about food…food is your beard. Once you understand and address the things driving the food stuff you will live happily and healthy by just listening to your body.
- Being thin does NOT equate being happy.
The Ah-Ha about Hunger and Fullness
Another reason this book really resonates with me is because the author is seeking to fill her hunger void through self-discovery and her path to this discovery is yoga. Yoga changed my life a few years back. I was peer-pressured into going to a hot yoga class one day after work with some teacher friends. We all went…got sweaty and twisted and vowed to never return. But something happened when I finally drug my ass outside to melt onto the concrete sidewalks seeking some relief from the heat and pain and exhaustion. I took my first FULL breath. My lungs moved…my airways opened…I felt the water I was guzzling enter my mouth, slide down my esophagus, hit the top of my stomach, seep into the liming of that organ and dissipate into my system. It was unreal…amazing…scary as shit. Is this what my body is SUPOSSED to feel like? I think I turned to the person sitting next to me and asked them “Did you feel that?” By the time I got home I felt AMAZING…I mean super glorious. The teacher told us to come back the next day and ever day that week if we wanted to stick with it…it would help us get used to the heat. I went back every day that month. I was obsessed. I have never felt so awesome in my life. I committed myself to everything that it was about. I was able to check myself OUT of the daily grind of competition and just focus on me. It was 90 minutes of quiet time…thinking time…PRACTICE. I could just PRACTICE new things and every day compare yesterdays progress to the next. It was just about me and that felt great. I was regular for about a year. Then shit happened. I got busy with my Masters program…my wedding…then my health took a shit dive and I could not stand the heat and my energy levels dropped to zero. It was a real struggle. My body and my ming was SCREAMING for my yoga but I just could not muster what it took to get there. It was awful. I was loosing something I loved and it hurt. But like most addictions…you sacrifice what you have to to get the next fix. I lost my mojo and had no idea how to get it back. But I never lost the memory of that first day or ever day after that on my mat. I would get back to that place…just didn’t know how. But yoga is more than just the poses. I am not into all that stuff really but I do appreciate and understand some of the concepts.
Kimber is also seeking “fullness” through yoga. She connected with a particular teacher who she sought out yogic counseling from. She wanted to understand fullness from a yogic perspective. Maybe that was the path she needed to take to find her fullness? She asked him a simple question: What does it mean to be hungry from a yogic point of view? His answer bounced back and fourth inside of my like he was sitting right in front of me having the conversation with me. He said that the word hunger in Sanskirt is bhuj, meaning both eater and experiencer, connecting the idea that we experience something through eating it. I TOTALLY GET THIS. My memories are so tied to food experiences. I remember things through food. Not that this is healthy but it is comforting to know that to an extent…this connection is ok. Hunger can be connected to the desire for liberation-“It’s a good idea to always be a little hungry.” I get that too…you have to have some drive to get shit done…to accomplish things. And you are doing those things to eventually find a place a peace in you life…peace=liberation. OK Kimber and Carlos- her guru- keep talking. She realizes “Instead of thinking of hunger as this terrible things I have to ward off, defeat, or give into utterly, I could think of it as something that’s helping me, encouraging me, reminding me of my desire to understand myself and the world more deeply.” Oh snap. I have been trying this throughout the 30/10 process. Hunger just means that its working…hunger is a sign that my body is eating the fat away. But could hunger be something even more positive than that? “Instead of seeing hunger as a negative thing, see it as a positive thing, Instead of dwelling on hunger, contemplate its opposite: fullness. Purna, or purnata, he explained, is both fullness in eating, and also the idea of perfection, wholeness, the entire universe complete unto itself, you wholly and fully yourself.”
When you notice hunger, let it be a reminder to remember what is full in your life.
This though…this idea makes me feel so peaceful. Instead of focusing on the hunger, you focus on things that bring fullness into my life. I try to make time every day to reflect and be thankful and see the beauty that is all around. But I don’t do these things at dinner time. Perhaps it is time to change that. I need to shirt my thinking to fullness always. To not dwell on the hunger but to embrace and acknowledge all in my life that does sustain and keep me full and satisfied. Maybe this is one key to my struggle with all this. This section…this reading…this understand is profound for me. When I am full of life I am full.
I am excited to put this mantra into practice. This is all about being thankful for what we have. When we realize what we have sometimes that an become enough to sustain. I do not know all the reasons I am the way I am or why I have done the things I have done in the past. But I sense that I am getting closer and closer to those answers and I can tell that with those answers will come relief, a sense of normalcy, and a ever constant sense of fullness.