Years ago, my dear friend, Alex Jamieson, told me a secret that had the potential to completely rock her world – for better or for worse. She was terrified. Truth be told, even with a clear positive intention, part of me was scared for her too. After sitting on Oprah’s couch, would she now fall from grace? We worked together for a year, while she “came out” with her secret.
The moral of this story isn’t about what you “should” eat/want/do. If you read it that way, you’re missing the point. This is a story about finding the courage to trust your desires and live your truth, even when the odds seem completely stacked against you…
I wanted men, and I wanted meatballs.
This wasn’t an easy realization when I had published three vegan cookbooks, become famous as the “vegan girlfriend” and co-creator of Super Size Me, and was also known for being married to a famous filmmaker.
Getting clear about what I really needed in my life, and on my dinner plate, was a messy, scary, and profoundly important task. It required me to listen to my soul and my body, and be authentically me, in public, even when it felt like I was stepping in front of a firing squad to do so.
Authenticity: An honest action, made faithfully, resembling the facts, reliable, emotionally appropriate and true.
We all want it, but it’s hard to be you – the authentic you.
Few parents teach us how to be ourselves, few teachers share how to follow our gut, and the feminine quality of “intuitive and sensitive” doesn’t hold much sway in our culture.
After 10 years of happy vegan-hood, birthing a baby boy into the world, writing three books and running my own health coaching practice, my life took a dramatic turn for the fucked.
My marriage was in shambles and my hormones were shot, and my business was on hold as my husband traveled the world and I took care of our son. My body and soul began to break down.
I had been known as a vegan expert, but I started craving meat as my hormones swung wildly out of control. I did my best to ignore it, which started a tortuous, abusive relationship with my body.
My husband hadn’t made love to me in over a year, and my coaching business was flailing as I couldn’t authentically promote my services when my own body and soul felt so depleted.
Nothing felt good, except my love for my son, the support of a few amazing friends, and a dim hope and resilience that refused to die.
As I moved myself and my boy into a smaller apartment, and trudged through the long divorce process, I finally got out for dinner with some friends.
I remember seeing their steak and salmon appear on our table, and my mouth secretly salivated as I grimly bit into my tofu salad. I wanted their food, but I couldn’t listen to my body’s cravings because my thoughts were too twisted up in a pretzel about what I “should” eat.
Yet, my body knew. She told me, over and over again, that I needed to change how I was eating in order to save myself. So I secretly bought some eggs, moved to fish, and then finally took the plunge to grass fed beef.
My body sang a Hallelujah! And my mind reeled with fear.
I suffered in silence for over a year about what was happening with my body and my meat cravings. I was afraid I would be ostracized and lose my entire business if I came out and admitted the vegan diet wasn’t working for me.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to the butcher. As I ate the meat my body wanted, my hormones came back to balance, and my libido and physical confidence, long lost, came back like a freight train.
I wanted feel alive again, and began dating like it was my job. Through over 100 first dates in eighteen months, I began to make friends with my body and trust her again. We talked a lot, and I listened to her as she gave me insights about who I should not date again, who I should enjoy a fulfilling one-night-stand with, and who I should ask out again and get to know better.
As I gave my body what helped her thrive, both meat and men, my grit and confidence grew. And the trust I had in myself was being built, meal by meal, date by date.
Building trusted relationships with an intimate group of real people, who don’t just retweet your ideas, was an essential step in staying strong on this path of discovery and clarity.
There will always be people who don’t agree with you, or think you’re weird, or call you downright nasty things. Shaming is the new public theater of the internet age. Build your community of actual, in-real-life friends who support you as you are, and who you are becoming. Joining Nisha’s community of heart-centered entrepreneurs was one way I committed to my truth – the women I met there have continued to be a great source of strength in my life.
In positive psychology, the idea that “you are the five people you spend the most time with” has been tested and proven. Cultivate friends and family who are fierce and loyal supporters of your evolution. They may not always agree with your strategy, but they will always agree with your possibility.
When I finally “came out” to my online tribe and Facebook, I was so glad that I had the physical resilience and trusted community around me. The internet blew up, and my story went viral.
I lost friends. Actual friends, not just people “unfriending” me.
But I stuck with my truth, trusted my body, and kept listening to her, throughout the thousands of hate mails, death threats, and angry phone calls from people who now hated me because I changed how I ate, and what I believed.
My journey resulted in my new best selling book, Women, Food, And Desire and a juicy, joyful 3-year romance with my partner Bob. And my passion for helping women find what makes their bodies and lives come alive has doubled my business and my impact on the world.
We need to stay strong and true to the vision for our life and our work, even in the face of negative feedback.
To be our true selves, it’s necessary to act on our body’s instructions and do the things, and eat the foods, and spend time with the people, who help us come alive.
Building a life and a business that feels authentic and honors your truth requires self-knowledge, trust, faith, and a deep, powerful connection to your body. Listen to her, and trust her.
—> In the comments below, share about a time when living your truth required incredible courage, and what helped you navigate your way through it.