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The Art of Non-Attached Pleasure: How Letting Go is the (or One) Key to Peaceful Progress and Maintenance

The last post I published here was about my recent test results.  Everything out there is better than it was before, huzzah!  My male sex hormones are down, and my female sex hormones are up.  My fasting insulin is improving, and my thyroid levels are inching normal, too.

Perhaps best of all, however, is that I have a libido again.  I have consistently clear skin for the first time in three years.  I have a curvy but fit body that maintains its weight naturally.  I don’t have to monitor calories.   Things aren’t perfect — but they are leaps and bounds on the rise.

What has facilitated this recovery and rise?

Part of it has been diet, absolutely.  The specific troubleshooting I did within the paleo template was also crucial.  A big part of my problem was fiber (more on which in future posts).  The amount of fiber I ate contributed to inflammation, which piggy-backed onto hormone flucutations and gave me cysts on a regular basis.  I also added magnesium back into my life, which has been a godsend if there’s ever been one.

Another part of it has been stress reduction in my life as a whole.  My living environment used to be stressful.  My academic life carried a high amount of worry and stress.  My life as a health advocate had its own troubles.  Having a project such as The Book hanging over my head didn’t help, either.   Working on all of those things has done enormous things for my wellness.

But I have come to believe that the most important part of my healing has been healing my relationship to healing.  Let me explain.

As I moved forward with my acne, my hormone problems, and my concerns about my body in general, I was attached to what I achieved.  I focused on the results.  I wanted clear skin.  I wanted libido.  I wanted menstrual cycles.  Every time I tried a new tact and didn’t achieve what I was looking for, however, I became more frustrated.  I got more afraid, more angry, and more disheartened.   “It’s been years, mom!” I have whined several hundred if not thousands of times in the last stretch of my life.

Then, whenever things started to improve, I got even more anxious because I didn’t want them to go away.   If I managed to have clear skin for a week, I’d have an unhealthy amount of hope about it sticking.  I’d be a freak about it.  I’d do my best to stay away from mirrors and such, but I couldn’t help but always be on the lookout for more acne, safeguarding myself against that demon that had haunted me for so long.

And I was stressed about it, and it hurt the quality of my life, and also my physical body, I am sure.  I didn’t want to stress about it, but I know it sat in the corners of my brain, haunting me silently.

I wanted to heal, and I wanted proof of healing.  Now. 

Today, I have “healed.”  I have hacked the things that needed hacking in my body and in my life.  I have seen a lot of improvement.  It’s tempting to become attached to my clear skin.  It’s tempting to get invested in my slim body.  A part of me feels a strong pull to put all of my happiness and confidence into those things, and to fall back on my own model of feeling sexy, healthy, and happy because I was meeting some standard of health and appearance.  Who doesn’t want to look in the mirror and see a stereotypically hot woman staring back at her?

The thing is, however, is that I have realized as I have healed that the most important thing for my wellness right now is not being attached to those things at all.  The acne will not be perfect.  I will probably always get some breakouts.  I might even fall back into serious skin issues.  More important still are the truly inevitable things.  My body is aging every day.  I will not always been the young little thing flying around the dance floor.  Some day I will lose everything my physical body has to offer.  We all will.

Most of you know I am a student of philosophy of religion in my “real life.”  Most of the world’s religious traditions speak to what I have been wrestling with on some level, and one of my favorite strands of thought on it goes something like this:

We are here to delight in the good things we have, but we must be able to let go of them.  Just as the leaves fall every autumn, so nothing good or bad lasts forever.   This is an inevitable fact of being alive.

With health, relationships, statuses, jobs, and just about anything else in our lives, we are always in relationship.  In these relationships, we have the choice to stitch our skins to the good stuff and bleed when  inevitably torn apart, or we can hug and kiss and nuzzle them with loose, loving, and forgiving arms.

The more I learned to accept that the good, fun things like six pack abs and good health I get to delight in will not last forever, the more peace I developed in my healing and my maintenance of good health.  I can do my best, but I cannot maniacally monitor, shape, and control everything that happens to me around the clock.  More importantly, I cannot base my happiness on my clear skin.  If I did, then I would be hurt by the stress of maintaining it and by the stress of (maybe) losing it.

Instead, if I base my happiness say on my gratitude for the good health I get to have now, and on my relationships, and on my purpose and on all of the beaty and love in the world, then I can delight in the good stuff without anxiety and be happy.  Otherwise I’d just walk around worrying all of the time.  Someday it might all fall to pieces, and I have got to be okay with that happening.

I remember after paleo fx this year I wrestledsignificantly with the question of what we were all doing there.  Why bother troubleshooting health so vociferously?  Why keep looking for perfection in a body?  Why keep optimizing?  I think this sits at the heart of that trouble I had.   Physical health is so important, but it has got to be folded into healthy minds and healthy hearts, at peace with existing no matter what instability and tremors live within them.

At least for me.  I love your thoughts, as always.

Enjoying the good stuff without anxiety is so important to me that I’ve written several guides to help you do the same. Want to lose weight in a healthy way while loving yourself? Check out Weightless Unlocked. Looking for a general guide to eating for health (and libido!)? My best selling Sexy by Nature has all the details.




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Managing director of Paleo for Women and author of Sexy by Nature.


  1. Pingback: The Art of Non-Attached Pleasure: How Letting Go is the (or One) Key to Peaceful Progress and Maintenance | Paleo Digest

  2. Hmm, why hack our health indeed? Isn’t life too short? Sort of, and that’s my point. I grew up hearing my mom tell me about how her life was after her mom died (when my mom was 3). I then lost my mom when I was 11. Why? Because she could not get her health under control. She had Type 2 Diabetes, smoked, and was essentially disabled for as long as I can remember.

    I hack my health because I now have a small daughter, and I would hate it if the same fate befell her that I had. Now I haven’t solved all of my anxiety about my health yet, but I feel good that I am heading in the right direction instead of the wrong one. And yes, mental health is intrinsically tied with the physical. Mind-Body-Soul connection, etc.

    So I am glad that you are finding this place of peace within yourself. I hope that it stays with you.

  3. I love this post. It for sure sounds like you are healing on the inside, which will of course heal you of the physical things you desire. The Universe is very wise and sometimes you have to learn things backward. Good luck with maintaining your healthy mindset!

  4. Amen! This is a beautiful, liberating concept. Thanks for sharing!

  5. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE THIS POST! Congrats on your current success, but I must agree with you that accepting not being healed is the only thing that ever moved me forward.

    That quote has changed my day/brightened my life 🙂

  6. You’re amazing! Everything you write I can relate too. Good to know I’m not the only one who eats what most would consider and excessive amount of apples;) I’m from Michigan as well but live in the mountains of Colorado. Thank you for doing what you do 🙂

  7. Oh sweet Stefani. You will never know how many heart you have touched by imparting your amazing wisdom on the interwebs. You are such a beacon of light and SANITY for me and I always seem to find your work when I truly need it the most.

    I think our “need” to grasp things so tightly sometimes comes from the inadequacies and “lack” we can occasionally feel with in ourselves. Our ego is always looking outward to define us, to fill us with our appearance, situations, money, possessions, facebook friends. In this age where we are so defined by the various electronic measures of our wealth (and WORTH by proxy), learning to detach from physical attachments and measure is THE lesson. And once we realize this, we are able to GIVE and share, love and grow. I have also discovered that sometimes our fixation on what is WRONG with whatever health or life circumstance, is just a subconscious mechanism to distract us from a greater fear. A shift FROM living in fear to living in love is what has truly launched my personal health journey to a COMPLETELY new realm.

    Your honesty and authenticity is such special a gift (especially in this modern age of madness). Keep on keepin’ on girlfriend. You’re a star.

  8. LOVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVE this post! I wrote something very similar the day after and just came across reading this post today. For me, this is the hardest part of healing, because it forces me to trust and let go, but it’s the most liberating part of the process. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Pingback: A Little Tuesday “Thought-spiration” | In My Skinny Genes

  10. I love this insight…a wonderful ahaaaa…we get to learn it over in deeper ways as we age. So good that you are having it at your age and sharing it! With all the ups and downs and twists and turns of life, we get to apply what we learn on so many levels….the world is our classroom and our bodies and our inner world is the laboratory! Learning and growing and loving and helping along the way. We can be so hard on ourselves sometimes.

  11. As usual, Stefani, you told me exactly what I needed to hear. I am definitely overly attached to healing and outcomes. This month I am experimenting with only focusing on one day at a time, and so far I’ve seen tremulous improvement in my mood. I’m also going through a period of spiritual acceptance and growth, which is terrifying and liberating. I realize that I focus on external factors – body shape, skin, etc etc, because I’m afraid of addressing internal ones. Your words give me courage – thank you!

  12. Pingback: 5 Things I’ve Learned from Failing at Healing | Eat, Recycle, Repeat

  13. Did you write that post about fiber? I cant find it and would be really interesting to read. I have constipation, and read that insoluble fibers are to avoid… yet soluble fibers are good for hormone balance you write. What helped you, and which foods did you take out of your diet? – Anna

    • ON its way! WAy its looking right now — probably near the end of october 🙂

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