What comes to mind when you think of licorice for gentlemen? I Googled images for this and the picture above was the first image. For me, it was spot on. I imagine a man well dressed, sophisticated, and somewhat luxurious. It just sounds so classy, doesn’t it? This title came to me in a dream several months ago. I don’t remember the dream or if brilliant blog content accompanied it. The dream has long faded, but “licorice for gentlemen” remained.

I recently found myself on a fun date at the Steamboat Hot Springs. Yet, the experience was anything but fun. It was the first bathing suit outing of the season. Yikes! My thoughts went something like, “OMG! You’ve got to be kidding me!! My stomach is HUUUUGGGEEEE and my skin is so white!! My hips stick out a mile and my butt is gigundous!!! I’m D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G!!!” Ever had any of those fun thoughts? Yeah, not so fun. I found myself incredibly self-conscious and continually judging myself and everyone else in the pool. This was a huge wakeup call in how I am treating myself and others.

My New Year’s resolution this year is balance. On a scale of 1-10 (1=low, 10=high) I want to rate an 8 or higher in the areas of relationship, professional, service, education, health/wellness, spiritual, leisure, and financial. Once plotted out it should look like more-or-less like a wheel. I’ve done this before and focused my attention for the year on the “flat” areas or the ones with low scores. The flat sections just seem to move. One year I may have a flat area in finance and with my attention on money this area dramatically moves up, but then I have a flat area in leisure or somewhere else. The flat part of the wheel just moves, and my attention shifts to a new priority. This year I want to see if I can create a round wheel with small goals in each area.

So far, health/wellness keeps getting a score of 6 or 7, the lowest of all categories. This past month, needless to say, it took a plunge. No more avoiding, it’s time to look at myself and my thoughts. I know I can drop weight quickly and create flat abs. I’ve done it many times. However, in the past it has taken dramatic measures. I can do the Whole 30, eliminating sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy, and legumes and get it done. BUT, I keep gaining the weight back. Again, I find myself on this roller coaster of up and down. How can I create a healthy lifestyle? How can I create balance? How can I fall in love with my body?

Spoiler alert, I don’t have the magic answer to this one. It’s still a work in progress, and that kind of is the magic answer. For years I’ve been searching for the magic diet or solution that will end my quest for flat abs. I don’t think it’s out there in the search. I think it has everything to do with what is already inside of me. I think it’s a continual journey of fine tuning what works and doesn’t, rather than a destination to get to. Someone once told me, whatever the question love is the answer. Maybe love is the answer here too. It’s certainly not what I’ve been using so far. I’ve been incredibly hard on myself and very strict with fasts, diets, and exercise. What if I tried a new approach?

I’ve found when I’m good I’m good and when I’m not good, I’m really not good. For instance, when I’m on the Whole 30 I am 100% on it. Absolutely no cheating. Yet, a few months off of it and I’m on the couch eating ramen noodles, chips, and finishing with chocolate and peanut butter. It also seems very mindless. I’m watching tv and not very present to what I’m watching or what I’m eating. It just gets shoveled in. Have you ever felt like you keep grabbing for a “small” snack or just one more… and then you keep getting up to get just a little more… and more… and more? It never seems like enough and the craving just gets worse. Yeah…

What about a more mindful approach? What about really paying attention to hunger? Can I still feel food from my last meal? How hungry am I? What am I really wanting in this moment? I’ve started paying more attention to my body and my hunger. Often times when I start thinking of food I’m not even hungry, often I’m stressed, anxious, or bored. When I am hungry I eat, regardless of the time.

I have also started paying attention to the food I’m eating. Noticing the smells when I prepare the food, how it tastes in my mouth, the texture, and spending time in gratitude as I eat. I also notice my hunger levels as I eat and stop when the sensation is gone. What I’ve noticed is a loving practice with myself. I eat my meals at the table instead of on the couch in front of the tv and I don’t do anything else while I eat. I really enjoy my food this way. I also find that I have been craving fruit, veggies, and water a lot more. Interesting.

I no longer sit there and just eat a bag of something mindlessly. I think this is an awful way to treat yourself. Where are you in this moment? Robert Holden says, “If something feels like it is missing in your life it is probably YOU.” I couldn’t agree more. I was missing for sure. When I’m present, I don’t eat without awareness. I also find I’m a lot more selective about what I eat. I won’t choose cake just because someone offers it. I don’t even really like cake that much. I will save this treat for something I really like, like a lemon bar. And then it is a real treat. Something I savor and tremendously enjoy.

This is where licorice for gentlemen comes in. What if we treated ourselves with a lot more respect and adoration when it comes to food? What if we saved up for a special treat, like licorice. What if having chips was for a special occasion? Like having friends over? What if chocolate was for holidays and celebrations? What would shift if eating became like dressing up for something fancy? What if we took that kind of care, attention, and celebration? What if? So far, I’ve noticed I enjoy eating a lot more, I’ve lost 6 lbs. and my abs are much flatter than last month. I’ve also noticed I have more motivation for eating well, exercising, drinking water, and treating my body well. I’ve started to fall in love with my body. I want to treat myself well. AND I still enjoy a dipped ice cream cone at Dairy Queen with my best friend. I’m not missing out and it’s not about less, it’s about so much more in so many ways.