by Sarah Martin, World Association of Sex Coaches Certified Sex Coach
You’re out on a trip with your friends. It’s a trip you’ve been looking forward to, the adventure of a lifetime. You’re together, you love each other, and you are somewhere so exotic and beautiful that you feel filled up with joy.
That is until you learn that, on day one, you’re going for a 3 hour hike in the heat. You act excited – you came all this way and it makes sense to go out in the natural splendour all around you, right? It’s just, unlike your friends, you’re carrying around a 35kg bioorganic starvation survival kit that you are unable to take off.
So you go, and you’re struggling to keep up, your breathing is heavy and ragged. Instead of soaking up the vistas, your eyes focus on your feet. “Don’t let them see you struggling,” you think.
At last, you make it back to your hotel. After exertion of the hike, there is pleasure in releasing that burden and sitting down to eat. The table is laid with foods you’ve never seen before, and you dive in with gusto. There is comfort there. You eat and experience waves of pleasure.
Then, it’s time for bed. Through an unlucky drawing of straws, you have a top bunk. Bunk beds make you feel squeamish deep in your guts.
You face the ladder, and start to climb. About half way up, you hear a sound, and time slows to a crawl. Suddenly you see the ceiling. “Is this really happening?” you wonder, just before you and the ladder thud to the ground with an almighty crack.
Your friends run over and crowd around you. You burst into tears. They assume it is because you’re hurt. Sure, you hurt a bit, but that’s not why you’re crying. You’re crying in shame and humiliation. You’re crying because you broke a ladder.
This story is mine. That was me in 2004, in Cuba. I wish I could say that everything turned around after that, but if I did, I’d be lying. It would be 10 years before my turning point would come. Until then, I just couldn’t lose weight.
Let’s save 10 years! How sex can help you lose weight
I grew up in Vermont, in the United States. Sex and sexual pleasure were pretty taboo, coated in a thick layer of awkward, bad, and sinful. Was your experience growing up similar to mine?
As young women, our bodies were under constant public scrutiny. Bullying on one side, exhortations not to get labelled a slut on the other. Any moment where the body started to take charge and express itself – school dances, PE class, jumping for joy at an exam result – was an opportunity for the bullies to let loose with a barrage of abuse, teasing, laughing, and shaming.
Over time, experiences like this alienate us from our bodies. Rarely is there a cinematic moment where we reject our bodies – instead, this is usually a culmination of experiences over time that teach us that being in our bodies is not safe. We learn that, in our bodies, we will experience shame.
However, while sex and pleasure were taboo, there was still one venue open for socially sanctioned, nearly limitless physical pleasure – food. Eating in the USA is a cross between a hobby, a sport, and an orgy. Food comes in huge portions and there is always something new to try. Food is cheap and plentiful. Expressing overt pleasure when eating is welcomed.
Taking pleasure in eating food is socially sanctioned behaviour.
There are several problems with this.
Is it a coincidence that America has the highest rates of obesity in the world, while also having one of the most culturally messed up views on sex? Human bodies are drawn toward pleasure and away from pain. Our society is constructed to make sexual pleasure and visible embodiment emotionally painful, especially for women.
The thing is, when we eat this way, we’re not eating out of hunger or a need for calories. We’re eating through a lens of pleasure starvation, desperately hungry for something other than nutrition.
And we suffer for this – our health suffers, our self-esteem suffers, and our ability to experience the world through movement suffers, too.
The 3 Keys
My turning point came in January 2014. That is when I first started exploring my sexuality and getting really curious. I’ve lost a total of 45kg (100lbs) since then. Here are the 3 keys to how I did it:
Release Sexual Shame
The first step is to release stored up sexual shame, especially shame around your body. I hate when people say “release XYZ emotion” in an article, because how do you do that? It takes time, happens over time, and the following steps can help you in the process:
- Read a lot and expand your definition of normal. By learning that there are others like you, with the same struggles and desires, you’ll learn that you are normal, and that you are not broken.
- Find community and talk to people. Start going to MeetUp groups, women’s circles, and other venues where you can hear the stories of others.
- Take a look at your body, and focus on what you love. Spend some time in front of a mirror, naked, or if that is too much to begin with, draw yourself. Then, while looking in the mirror or at your drawing, honestly express what you feel about yourself. Finally, make a list of everything you love about your body.
Embrace Pleasure and Orgasm
Once you let go of shame around your sexuality and your body, the next step is to embrace pleasure and orgasm. Shame tries to convince us that there’s something wrong with us on a personal level. Once shame is gone, it is possible to believe that your body deserves pleasure.
To begin embracing pleasure and orgasm, slow down. Treat yourself to a deeply sensual evening with yourself. Light candles, take a long bath, stroking your body. Slowly, gently massage lotion into your skin, focusing on the sensation. Set up your room in a way that feels romantic to you. Then, take a solid 45 minutes to self-pleasure. Invest in a new vibrator and explore the sensation available to you from your entire body. Then, make it a habit to do this regularly.
Use Sexual Energy to Support Embodiment
By releasing shame and embracing pleasure and orgasm, you learn that your sexual energy is yours, it is powerful, and it is always with you.
This single revelation has changed my entire life. It is possible to direct your sexual energy toward many activities, heightening their pleasure for you.
To get started, take up an exercise class in one of the erotic arts – pole dancing, belly dancing, burlesque, lap dancing. Alternately, take up a regular practice like Orgasmic Running or aphrodisiac cooking. All of these bring you into your body and tap into your sexual energy to create pleasure.
With time and regular attention to these 3 keys, the increase in pleasure you receive sexually and through movement begins to lessen, naturally and without effort, the deep craving and drive to eat, as your body now has many ways to take in and experience pleasure, rather than one.