My spouse Janet and I just returned from a beautiful 11-day trip to Italy. We traveled fairly extensively by train and visited Venice, Florence, Viareggio, (a very pretty Tuscan town in the Italian Riviera), Cinque Terre, (5 antique towns built into cliffs overlooking the sea), a natural hot springs spa near Siena and Southern Italy in my maternal grandparents hometown, Santeramo in Colle in the province of Bari, (the heel portion of this boot-shaped land.) We also visited other beautiful and historic places with my Southern-Italian relatives, but I'll leave that for another time.
What made this visit extra special? Of course, the country is beautiful but that's nothing new. We'd both been to Italy before and have come to anticipate its beauty. Also, the weather was beyond spectacular! Everyday was sunny and in the low to mid-70s. Even the Italians were amazed by the very atypical, balmy November forecast. While it was extremely sweet to be able to walk around each day in light sweaters that was more the icing on the cake of this very special sojourn.
How about the food you ask? Wasn't that special? Absolutely, yes! Italians throughout Italy offer exquisitely prepared cuisine specific to their region. We ate 1 delicious meal after another whether at restaurants or in people's homes. Another plus in Italy is they are extremely gluten-free friendly! What a relief it was to simply mention that I avoid foods containing gluten. Everyone understood immediately and did their utmost to accommodate. And the food taste and quality remained stellar! Despite the exceptional, gluten-free fare, this still does not rank as the #1 factor of what made this trip extra-ordinary.
What was it then if not the beauty of the country, the outstanding weather or the phenomenal gluten-free meals? Quite simply, the people. Both friends and family were amazingly embracing. Now, on 1 hand even the warmth everyone showed us was wonderful, but nothing new. The Italians are warm people. What was different then?
This was the first trip Janet and I made to Italy not only as an "out-of-the-closet" couple but as married to boot! For as long as I've been "out" as a lesbian, (almost 30 years now), trust me when I share that I had a bit of a knot in my gut going back to Italy with Janet as my spouse! What would my relatives think, especially those down South many of whom I assumed might be unable to accept the real me/us?
Long story short, they accepted us with love and open arms. Everyone wanted us to eat in their homes. They all were extremely warm, open, friendly, loving and supportive! Even 84 year-old cousin Lucia at the end of our visit grabbed both our hands in hers and said, "Voletevi bene!" ("Love yourselves well!") My heart still fills with overwhelm as I recall her supportive words!
Result: The knot in my gut untied. My breath became more free-flowing. Cortisol, the anxiety hormone which depletes muscle and generates fat, went way down. We had fun, walked tons in gorgeous weather visiting 1 wonderful family after another, ate fantastically well and overall had a marvelous time. And as I've written countless times before, reducing stress, adding pleasure, company, joyful movement and clean food can all lead to body re-shaping.
Did it for me? Yep! I knew before I even returned home that my pants were getting roomier. And, in fact I had lost 4lbs. Without trying and with zero focus on wanting to lose weight. My weight loss just unfolded in a natural way.
Message: Let's all look deeply inside ourselves for what may be bothering, upsetting, stressing, angering, and/or hurting us in any way. There may be 1 thing or multiple issues. The issue may be from the far past or as recent as today. Whatever you hone in on, try to address it in some way other than eating. Talk to someone you trust, get involved in a support group, connect with a professional. Just don't go on doing the same old-same old, i.e., chronic on/off dieting and then becoming even more down when you don't get or can't maintain the weight results you want.
Carrying more weight than we need is not a weight issue at all. Rather, it's a symptom of something else going on inside of us if we choose to listen. Enough exchanging emotional eating with deprivation dieting! Instead, let's listen to and observe our body's messages. It's time for all of us to "come-out" from under the overcoat of alleged fat-cell protection. Yes, it's high time to be and live life as our real selves. Now that's truly extra special!
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