Now I have to cook, too?!

“It’s not bad enough that I have to eat healthy, wholesome food,” I complained to my wife, Fawn. “The real kicker, the real thing that’s driving me crazy, is that I have to dedicate so much time to preparing it!”

I’d been on my weight-loss journey for about two months. I’d lost 11 pounds, and felt good about that.

But at the same time, I’d been starting to feel genuinely harassed by having to prepare my own food. And I was grumbling to Fawn about it.

“It’s sounds like you are not at peace about something,” Fawn ventured. “Perhaps it’s time to do some healing work?”

“I don’t know how much help that will be,” I said. “I know it’s important to do heart-level work when you’re upset, but this situation seems like the exception to that rule. I have to cook my own food. I guess I’d better just get good at suffering through the process.”

(Here’s a hint, by the way: when you think that something you are upset about is the “exception,” and that heart-level work won’t help… that’s the sign you need to do some heart-level work.)

What are you longing for? And what’s in the way?

Fawn wisely pressed on. “Well,” she said, “in view of the fact that I’ve been out of town a lot, and that you do have to cook your food, what do you want the cooking experience to be like?”

I thought for a moment, and said, “I want to feel good taking care of my health, every step of the way. Remember the rules I made up a the start of all this? ‘No using willpower, and no suffering.’ This ‘having to cook my own food’ thing is getting dangerously close to breaking those rules. But yes, the bottom line is I want to feel joy in all of it, every step of the way!”

“Ok, then what’s the problem?” Fawn asked. “When you go for that feeling of joy and peace in every step of your weight-loss journey, what gets in the way?”

“That’s easy,” I told her. “Cooking gets in the way. Eating well means spending a huge amount of time in the kitchen making food that is, quite honestly, not particularly thrilling. I work and work and end up with ‘Oh, that’s a nice miso bean soup. Sure am glad I’m eating this rather than a bunch of cookies.’ Bleah. All that time in the kitchen, making crappy ‘healthy’ food, and trying to convince myself it’s delicious. But it’s not delicious. It’s bland, boring, and time-consuming.”

“So that’s the problem,” Fawn said. “You want to feel joy in every part of building your good health. But it seems like in order to be healthy, you have to spend more time than you like cooking the bland, boring food that makes good health possible.”

“That’s right,” I said. Bland, boring crap, and hours spent every day to make it. Yuk.”

What’s the dark fate you’re believing in?

In the work that I do, we are always looking for the fate that you believe you are stuck with in the circumstances you are experiencing. So I wasn’t surprised by Fawn’s next question:

“When you have to spend more time than you like cooking the bland, boring food that makes good health possible, how do you lose heart? What fate do you start believing you are stuck with?”

I realized the truth: “When I want to have joy in good health, but feel stuck having to spend tons of time cooking bland, boring food, I do lose heart. And the way I lose heart is I start to believe that I’m fated to be trapped in the kitchen, and miss out on everything that is good about life. I’ll be locked in the kitchen making bean paste when I could be out in the world, enjoying hot fudge sundaes.”

I started to see that I really had accepted the idea that in order to lose weight, I was going to be trapped in the kitchen, and miss out on everything that is good about life.

It’s no wonder I was upset.

What kind of higher power would set that up?

One of the questions I like to ask people is, “What kind of ‘higher power’ would set up that kind of a fate for you?” In fact, that’s what Fawn asked me next:

“What kind of a ‘higher power’ would put a longing in your heart to have joy in pursuing good health, but fate you to have to miss out on everything that is good in life?

That’s an important question, because you can make a strong case that, whatever fate you are believing in, you are also believing something about the god, universe, higher power — or whatever you call it — that set that fate up in the first place.

Put another way, it’s important to know what kind of ‘higher power’ you are believing in. If you are believing in one that has doomed you to suffer, it’s going to make enjoying your life a lot more difficult. (In my case, it was making enjoying preparing my own food impossible.)

“Wow,” I answered. “The ‘higher power’ that would put that longing in my heart, then fate me to miss out on life, is pretty uncaring. It’s a power that says, ‘Hey dude, I don’t care. Life is rough. Get used to it. Things suck for everybody. Nobody said it would be fair. Suck it up and suffer through, jerk.”

Fawn asked, “Does that idea feel like it’s from the highest and most merciful reality you can imagine? Is that truly Divine Blessing?”

I had to admit it most certainly was not. It was clear to me that I did not know what Divine Blessing would look like in this situation, but I certainly knew that this uncaring point of view was not it.

So I went inside myself, and gathered up this part of me that had bought the idea that I was fated to spend my life trapped in the kitchen. I took it and turned away from the dark ‘higher power.’ With a sense of expectation, I opened myself to the Divine Light.

Opening to the Divine Light

I should say a few words here about “opening to Divine Light.” I like to think of it the way my buddy Jim Keeley describes it — that opening to the Divine Light is like tuning in an old-style radio.

When you tune in an old-style radio, you are listening for the station you want to tune into, and adjusting the knob until the broadcast is playing clearly.

It’s the same when you turn to the Divine. You’re tuning your “inner radio,” listening for the Divine station, and adjusting and opening until the Divine broadcast is playing clearly.

The important thing to note, though, is that when you tune to the Divine broadcast, you don’t know what’s going to be playing. The big mistake I see people make is that they turn to the Light, and demand or expect that it will show up in a certain way. They expect to be given a piece of advice, or an action plan, or to have their feelings changed in a certain way.

But every time you open yourself to the Divine, it’s different — and chasing yesterday’s experience of the Divine will ultimately be frustrating. You need to turn to the Light with the expectation that it will be there, and that it can touch you — but without a specific agenda for how it will affect you.

In my case, I was turning to the Divine with the part of me that had accepted the idea that if I wanted to be healthy, I had to get used to missing out on life. I was saying, “I have no idea what the truth is, but I know it’s not the fate I’ve accepted. I know You have goodness in store for me, and I’m open to anything You have to give me.”

The kitchen as foundation and springboard into life

As I turned to the Light with that sense of open expectation, I started to feel that Light fill me in all the places where I had accepted the dark fate. I started to see that the world of possibility was bigger than I had thought. A lot bigger, as a matter of fact.

In this new Light, I started to have the sense that the Divine made me to be healthy, fit and of service to the world. And I started to feel that the Divine wanted to support me in that health, fitness, and service.

And I started to see that part of how the Divine supports me in all of that is through the food that I eat.

From that perspective I started to see how meal planning, shopping and cooking are the foundation of that support. I started to see how the time I spend in the kitchen is the foundation that powers me to spring forward into the world.

I started to see that the purpose of my life is not to be laboring down in that foundation, scrubbing the bricks and never experiencing life. The foundation is important, but the foundation is not the purpose of my life.

I started to see how the time I spend in the kitchen isn’t meant to keep me from the world — it is like a springboard that is meant to power me in it.

If that’s true, then I want to cook!

I shared all this with Fawn, and she asked me, “In view of this new truth, how does that change your relationship with cooking?”

“It changes it a lot,” I told her. “If the kitchen really is my springboard into life, then I want to use it well. If the food I make there is designed to fuel my actions in the world, then I want the food I make to be great.

Rather than seeing it as a burden, cooking time now started to seem like a time of recharging — a gathering of energy and preparation for doing great things in the world.

That felt much better.

The sequence of challenges in changing my body

As I go through the process of improving my health,  I’m finding there are a sequence of challenges that need to be overcome.

– First, it was about deciding I actually wanted to make a change, even though it seemed impossible, and committing myself to doing the heart-level work of making it possible.

– Then it was about admitting that I actually didn’t want to change, and getting past my desire to eat whatever I felt like in the moment. It was about seeing that the freedom I desired lay in controlling my behavior, rather than in being out of control with food.

– Then it was about keeping my motivation by understanding the science of what I was up against, so I’d have mental fuel to keep eating well, and

– Today it was about getting past my resentment of having to actually prepare my own food, and seeing how the time I spend in the kitchen is the foundation and a springboard for doing great things with my life.

I’ve really been appreciating the support and the guidance people have been giving me in the comments. What do you think the next challenge will be, what’s your experience with that challenge, and how have you gotten past it?

About Dmitri


  1. My boyfriend helped me build a frame, a truck will deliver topsoil and compost, the sprinkler man will change my sprinkler for my new pair of raised beds for the garden I’ve been wanting. I’ll buy my new heirloom seeds and plant them inside until May. And then I’ll be tending, watering, weeding, and nourishes them till they are succulent and bursting, picked and babied in my kitchen adding and exploring just the flavors I want today, cooked just enough for me. Or just how my boyfriend wants. The herbs and veggies will taste full of flavors and delight, loaded with life and joy! Each step along the way is for the meal ahead and sharing my gifts learned along the way, my vision, my tastes, my wishes. Yum!

  2. Inspired.

    I’m grateful for the opportunity to read about your inner experiences while taking on the project of weight loss. The idea that is moving me today is your idea that says: what we see as our ‘fate’ in a situation is deeply connected to our beliefs about the Divine. Could my negative thoughts be a reflection of a deeper lack of Faith? Am I afraid to take a look at that? YES!

    Today I commit to a quiet time of opening to the Divine.

  3. This reminded me of how we can be praying when we do the mundane, “Chop wood, carry water” type tasks. I know when I’m in the right space doing these simple things actually make me feel more connected to the Divine and more at peace.

    I, too, am deeply grateful to you for sharing your process and spiritual shifts. This has been a great learning experience for me.

  4. Fawn Bilgere says:

    The funny thing is, Dmitri (and this is your wife speaking), how consistently pleased you are with the food you prepare on your low-fat, no-sugar diet. (I am, too!)

    It’s great how you give voice to that whiny inner child when you are feeling put upon (or deprived of hot-fudge sundaes). I’m glad and honored to be privy to your process, your insights and inspirations, and your good cooking. :-)

  5. Dmitri and All–
    Good stuff to ponder! May we keep opening ourselves to the gifts of the Divine.

    I’d like to add two things:
    One, food that is healthy for you need not be boring or dull or tasteless! Gourmet food that we prepare ourselves can be very very nutritious, very healing for us, from chicken soup from homemade stock to feta-and-spinach omelette even to sliced peaches and cream. Cooking and nourishing oneself and others can center around pleasure too, as a feast for all the senses! I must sound like a broken record, but the truth is that real fats like butter, eggs, and cream offer both healing and pleasure, so I hope you use them too!

    Secondly, here is a poem by Rabia of Basra (trans. Ladinsky) that I like:

    Slicing Potatoes

    It helps, putting my hands on a pot,
    on a broom, or in a washing pail

    I tried painting, but it was easier to fly
    slicing potatoes.

Speak Your Mind