Why Pleasure Matters & How to Have it For Yourself
Updated: Jun 26, 2019
I remember hearing the words pleasure and weight loss in the same sentence and couldn’t even compute what one had to do with another. Needless to say, I had ZERO relationship with anything involving pleasure. What did pleasure have to do with wishing I wore smaller jeans, had less cellulite or a flatter belly?
I was a good midwestern girl turned California hippie who just wanted to lose a few pounds so the idea that it could be pleasurable NEVER entered my mind. I wasn’t really focused on pleasure. Fun, maybe. But it’s common wisdom that losing weight is anything but fun. So alas, you can see the spinning wheel I was on where pleasure and weight loss didn’t compute.
Fast forward 10 years and I GET IT. What I know now is far greater than just losing some pounds on the scale. Pleasure is our birthright as woman, our bodies are designed for it, and when we deny ourselves this basic birthright, our bodies become out of balance.
I used to think pleasure was friviolous, indulgent, uncessary and a waste of time. Sure I had pleasurable sex, or food I enjoyed, or I liked being with friends, but I didn’t seek those things out under the name of pleasure.
When I really got that pleasure was a good and worthwhile goal, something profound shifted in my life and my body.
And here’s why it matters at a physiologica level: Your nervous system operates best when it is in what’s called the Rest & Digest state ( parasymapthetic state is the more technical term). When our nervous system is stressed because of things like self-judgment, restricting and controlling food, constant worry about our bodies, shame, embarrassment and self-hatred, the body can’t do a very good job of relaxing. Stress like responses happen in the body and when those happen, it makes feeling good about our bodies, let alone weight loss, a nearly impossible thing. You’ve probably heard the stories of people who go on vacation, eat anything they want and still come back having lost 5 pounds. When we let ourselves truly relax and enjoy life, our bodies follow. It’s a pretty amazing design to know that feeling good and doing good things for ourselves is actually the best way to be healthy.
Here are some of the ways I let pleasure infuse my life (and how you can too):
In my eating life, I began to eat food that brought me pleasure rather than food that was the “right” thing to eat, the “healthy” thing or the thing that would numb me out and stuff my feelings.
In my daily life, I sought pleasurable things like clothes I felt sexy in, music that made me feel alive, a work environment that left me feeling good and gratified rather than depleted and stressed.
In exericse, I totally stopped doing any exercise “because I needed to do it to stay in shape”. I now ONLY move my body in ways that are pleasurable to me: hiking, swimming, dancing, yoga and the occassional run (yes I actually LOVE the exhiliration running brings).
In sex, I stopped performing. Stopped doing things I thought would make me look good or impress him or snag him so he was hooked on me. I moved my body and acted from a place of “what would feel good next?” And can I just say, this alone transformed SO much of the rest of my life.
Stop pretending or faking it and your life will radically shift.
When we allow pleasure into our lives, we naturally relax, we open and we receive. We enjoy ourselves and our lives. When we make pleasure a priority, life, weight loss, food and relationships cease to be a struggle. They become something to rejoice and celebrate in. We find our natural sweet spot with feeling good, loving life and loving all around us.
This isn’t about heedless abandon or wild indulgence.
It IS about embracing the desire to actually feel good everyday, to drop the constant busy, to constant stress and the overload. Stop the crazy obsession with eating the right thing, working out enough or what size your jeans are. DO start enjoying what you eat, how you move and how you feel in your clothes.
To love life, to make the most of it and to watch yourself transform once and for all. All the diet rules, the critic in your head, the obligations and the shoulds are what hold us back when it comes to having the body & food relationship we desire.
Pleasure can start small. And it should start today. Ask yourself, what’s one small thing I can do to make myself and my day feel great? You’ll be surprised at the results.