Context Is King

It has been said “Context is everything.” And I’ve learned that “they” are correct. So much miscommunication occurs because of the failure to understand the context from which the other party is coming. And this is especially true on our quests for self-help and personal transformation. To be able to effectively navigate your personal journey of self-actualization, it is imperative that you understand the context from which you ask your questions – and the context from which the other party is providing answers.

A classic example is the phrase “Your Thoughts Create Your Reality.” For some this is simply another way of stating that corporate motivational slogan “Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude.” Yet for others this simple statement is the entrance into a painful maze of magical wish fulfillment in which our thoughts “manifest” the things we desire (or don’t).

In terms of weight loss and body image, most of the questions I receive are asked from within the context of the traditional, cultural “diet and exercise” model. And it’s challenging because all of my answers come from within the context of the Happy Calories Don’t Count® methodology. So let’s refresh the difference in context between the two approaches.

The “diet and exercise” model suggests that our body’s shape and size is a direct result of what we eat and what we do for exercise. Eat more, eat carbs, eat fat, eat sugar, eat fill-in-the-blank and we will gain weight. Eat less, eat vegetables, eat low glycemic, eat lean protein, eat fill-in-the-blank and we will lose weight. Exercise more, lose weight. Stop exercising, gain weight. The “diet and exercise” model sets up the idea that our bodies are basically a caloric balance sheet and that we have to pay a price to eat. The price? Exercise – or weight gain. The “diet and exercise” model creates a (perhaps unconscious) relationship between diet and exercise.

In the Happy Calories Don’t Count® model, the relationship is not between diet and exercise – there is no relationship between diet and exercise. “Happy Calories” Don’t “Count” because there is no price to pay to eat. In “Happy Calories World,” the relationship is between you and your body. Food and exercise are definitely important. But they are important in terms of how they express yourself in relationship to your body. In “Happy Calories World,” your body is the key – your body knows how to create an optimized state of health, vitality and well-being and it’s always guiding you in that direction. The Happy Calories Don’t Count® methodology is a completely different context than the “diet and exercise” model.

With that, let’s take a look at some of my most frequently asked questions.

Question: What do you eat?

Answer: This question is often asked from the context of the “diet and exercise” model. The implication is that I look the way I do because of what I eat – or don’t. And that if someone ate like I eat, they could look the way I do too. But in the Happy Calories® model, what I eat is totally irrelevant. What is important is that you connect with your body and allow your body to tell you what it wants to eat. That is the path for you to optimize your own health, vitality, well-being and joy.

Question: What is your favorite food or dessert?

Answer: My “favorite” food or dessert will be whatever my body wants in the moment. Something can’t really be a “favorite” if it doesn’t taste good. And if my body isn’t in the mood for it, it will only taste “meh.” Again, it’s not about the food or the exercise – it’s about the relationship with the body.

Question: What about “emotional eating?”

Answer: All eating is “emotional eating” – being hungry doesn’t feel good. So in the context of Happy Calories® emotional eating is actually a good thing because your body always tells you what, when and how much to eat. Eating to feel better will always work. It’s the eating to not feel bad that will never work because we can never not feel. When you eat to feel better, you instinctively stop eating as soon as continuing to eat would no longer feel better. This body centered approach eliminates all of the drama and head games that usually come with “emotional eating.”

Question: What about “conscious eating” vs eating in front of the TV.

Answer: People tend to put a lot of weight (pun intended) on the idea of “conscious” eating. And again, this tends to come from within the context of the diet and exercise model. From within that framework, we only get so much to eat. And so if we are eating unconsciously, we are unnecessarily negatively impacting that caloric balance sheet. In the Happy Calories Don’t Count® method, there is no price to pay to eat. So we don’t have to play mind games about being “conscious.” Rather, we work to cultivate a relationship with our bodies. We actively work to become embodied. We get connected with our bodies and let them lead the way. When we’re connected with our bodies, it doesn’t matter when or where we eat – including in front of the TV.

Question: What if my body is lying to me?

Answer: Why would it? Your body needs you just as much as you need it. It can’t live without you. Everything you do affects your body. So it’s in your body’s best interest to be honest with you and to communicate with you as best as it can.

Again, context is king. Rather than obsessing over being “conscious” about our food choices, it behooves us to get very conscious in our communication. We need to be aware of what we’re really asking, cognizant of context, and mindful of whether the answers we receive are helping us move forward on our paths of self-actualization or leading us astray.