Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
How many of us have struggled with weight and eating? In Ravenous: A Food Lover’s Journey from Obsession to Freedom, YJ staffer Dayna Macy offers us the searingly honest story of her battles with compulsive eating. To discover the root of her overeating, she takes a journey to food artisans, farms, slaughterhouses, and her family home to discover that overeating isn’t a battle she must win — but a journey she must take in order to know and understand her hunger.
In the book, the author makes peace with her appetite and her body — a big part of that is her yoga practice. We sat down with Dayna to ask her a few questions before the book’s publication on February 1st.
Q: In Ravenous, you take a yearlong journey to uncover the origin of your food obsessions. How does yoga relate to this journey?
A: Yoga brings you back into your body. It is the opposite of binging, where you eat to escape or check out. This is why the practice is so powerful.
Q: How does the mindfulness you learn in yoga help you make good food choices today?
A: It is not possible to eat wisely if your mind is elsewhere. Do you need to eat bread now, or protein? Are you really hungry, or just bored? Are you satisfied, or will you continue to eat to full or even stuffed? This is the gift of mindfulness — it is being present with what is.
Q: Tell us how yoga has helped you replace the negative “samskara” (thought patterns), with positive ones, surrounding food:
A: My body has a tendency towards the kaphic qualities of slowness and heaviness. So one of my yoga teachers, Scott Blossom, gave me an active practice to balance out these tendencies. I took this notion of practice to counterbalance my tendencies of overeating and began to measure my food. So I am retraining myself to understand what a portion is. The practice of yoga helps brings the mind and body back into balance.
Q: Timothy McCall, a medical doctor and author of Yoga as Medicine, once told you, “Yoga teaches you not to get lost in your stories. Yoga helps you see clearly and receive the direct experience of yourself. Not the story you make up about yourself, but your true experience of who you are.” Tell me what this means to you now, after your journey:
A: We all have pictures of who we think we are, that includes how we are embodied. I have been overweight for a long time, and, I assumed that that was just how I was embodied. I see now it’s not true. I also see that I am curvy by nature, and at this stage of my journey, I not only accept it, I celebrate it.