Let me paint a picture for you. Is this something you can relate to?
You’re out on a trip with a great group of friends. This is something you have been looking forward to for so long, the adventure of a lifetime. You’re together, you love each other, and you are somewhere so painfully exotic and beautiful that you feel filled up with joy.
That is until you learn that, on trip day one, you’re going for a 3 hour hike along the hills by the beach, in the warm, dry heat. You swallow hard and act excited – I mean, you came all this way and it makes sense to go out in the natural splendour all around you, right? It’s just, unlike your friends, you’re carrying around a 35kg bioorganic starvation survival kit that you are unable to take off.
So you go, and yes it’s beautiful, but that’s hard to appreciate when you’re struggling to keep up, your breathing heavy and ragged. You flush, both with heat, and with embarrassment. Instead of soaking up the vistas, your eyes focus on your feet. “Don’t let them see you struggling,” you think, “don’t spoil this hike for everyone else.”
Finally, you make it back to your hotel, relieved to take a shower and gulp down water. After the mental, emotional, and physical exertion of the hike, there is a pleasure in releasing that burden and sitting down to eat. The table is laid with foods you’ve never seen before, and you dive in with gusto. There is comfort there. You eat and experience waves of pleasure. You notice the soft, sticky buns are particularly moreish.
Finally, it’s time to head to bed. Through an unlucky drawing of straws, you have a top bunk. Bunk beds make you feel squeamish in the very depth of your guts.
You face the ladder, and start to climb. About half way up, you hear a sound, and time slows to a crawl. Suddenly you see the ceiling. “Is this really happening?” you wonder, just before you and the ladder thud to the ground with an almighty crack.
Your friends rush over, asking if you are ok, crowding around you. You burst into tears. They assume it is because you’re hurt. Sure, your knees will be bruised, but that’s not why you’re crying. You’re crying in shame and humiliation. You’re crying because you broke a ladder. You’re crying because the hike wasn’t fun for you, but you didn’t want to disappoint your friends. You’re crying because the only joy you’ve felt in your body since you arrived was when you were eating at dinner, and that’s part of why you are in this position in the first place.
If eating is the only pleasure you feel in your body, then how do you change it? How can life be worth living without it?
This story is mine. That was me in 2004, in Cuba. I wish I could say that was my lowest point, and that everything turned around after that, but if I did, I’d be lying. It would be 10 years and a whole lot more weight gain before my turning point would come.
Let me save you 10 years. Here’s what I’ve discovered about great sex and weight loss.
I grew up in rural Vermont, in the United States. Sex, especially sexual pleasure, was pretty taboo, shrouded in shame, coated in a thick layer of awkward, bad, and sinful. If you, too, grew up in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, I’m willing to bet that your experience was similar to mine.
As young women, our bodies were under constant public scrutiny. Bullying on one side, exhortations not to get labelled a slut on the other. Any moment where the body started to take charge and express itself – school dances, PE class, jumping for joy at an exam result – was an opportunity for the bullies to let loose with a barrage of abuse, teasing, laughing, and shaming.
Over time, experiences like this alienate us from our bodies. Rarely (though sometimes) is there a cinematic moment where we reject our bodies – instead, this is usually a culmination of experiences over time that teach us that being in our bodies is not safe. We learn that, in our bodies, we will experience shame.
However, while sex and pleasure were taboo, there was still one venue open for socially sanctioned, nearly limitless physical pleasure – food. Eating in the USA is a cross between a hobby, a sport, and an orgy. Huge portions, always something new to try, cheap, plentiful. Expressing overt pleasure when eating is welcomed – who hasn’t heard the appreciative grunts, moans, and sighs around the table at Thanksgiving.
In America, taking pleasure in eating food is socially sanctioned behaviour.
There are several problems with this.
Is it a coincidence that America has the highest rates of obesity in the world, while also having one of the most culturally messed up views on sex? Human beings in human bodies are drawn toward pleasure and away from pain. Our society is constructed to make sexual pleasure and visible embodiment emotionally painful, especially for women.
The thing is, when we eat this way, we’re not eating out of hunger or a need for calories. We’re eating through a lens of pleasure starvation, desperately hungry for something other than nutrition.
And then we suffer for this – our health suffers, our self-esteem suffers, and our ability to experience the world through movement suffers, too.
The 3 Keys, My Gift to You
My turning point came in January 2014. That is when I first started exploring my sexuality and getting really curious. I’ve lost a total of 45kg (100lbs) since then. Here are the 3 keys to how I did it:
Releasing Sexual Shame
The first step was to release years of stored up sexual shame, especially shame around my female body. I hate when people say “release XYZ emotion” in an article, because how the f do you do that? It takes time, happens over time, and the following steps can help in the process:
- Read a lot and expand your definition of normal. By learning that there are others, like you, with the same desires, same struggles, and same filthy fantasies, you will come to learn that you are normal, and that you are not broken.
- Find community and talk to people. I started going to MeetUp groups, women’s circles, and other venues where I could hear the stories of others and their sexual stories.
- Take a look at your body, and focus on what you love. Spend some time in front of a mirror, naked, or if that is too much to begin with, draw yourself. Then, looking in the mirror or at your drawing, express what you feel about yourself, head to toe, honestly. Then, make a list of everything you love about your body.
Embracing Pleasure and Orgasm
Once you let go of shame around your sexuality and your body, the next step is to embrace pleasure and orgasm. Shame tries to convince us that there’s something fundamentally wrong with us on a deeply personal level. Once that is gone, it is possible to believe that your body deserves pleasure.
One way to begin embracing pleasure and orgasm is to slow down, and treat yourself to a deeply sensual evening with yourself. Light candles, take a long bath, stroking your body. Slowly, gently massage lotion into your skin, focusing on the sensation. Set up your room in a way that feels romantic to you. Then, take a solid 45 minutes to self-pleasure. Invest in a new vibrator and explore the sensation available to you from your entire body. Then, make it a habit to do this regularly.
Use Sexual Energy to Support Embodiment
By releasing shame and embracing pleasure and orgasm, we can come to learn that our sexual energy is ours, it is powerful, and it is always with us (whether we’re in an erotic situation or not).
This is the single revelation that has changed my entire life. It is possible to direct your sexual energy toward many activities, heightening their pleasure for you.
A great way to get started with this is to take up an exercise class in one of the erotic arts – pole dancing, belly dancing, burlesque, lap dancing, or to take up a regular practice like Orgasmic Running or aphrodisiac cooking. All of these practices bring you into your body and tap into your sexual energy and eroticism to create pleasure.
With time and regular attention to these 3 keys, you can find that the increase in pleasure you receive sexually and through movement begins to lessen, naturally and without effort, the deep craving and drive to eat, as your body now has many ways to take in and experience pleasure, rather than one.
If you would like help and support on this journey, sign up for my free newsletter, and book your free discovery session today.