The most popular post on my blog so far has been my entry on How I am Losing Weight. I wrote that post pretty early on in my blogging efforts and I figured that I probably needed to expand a bit on the entries there. Basically, the five things I outlined there are
1. Getting treatment for my depression
2. Cutting out soda and sugary drinks
3. Beginning to eat healthier foods
4. Practicing mindful eating
5. Eating breakfast.
I’ve done quite a bit more with all five of these things since I wrote this post and I’ve begun to do a lot more in addition. I have continued to work on the issues of my depression. I am taking medication for it and I have been working on staying positive and keeping myself aware of all of the good things I have in my life and to be happy with my circumstances. Granted, depression isn’t about happiness vs. unhappiness but keeping myself aware of the sources of joy in my life keeps me in a good mental state and makes it that much harder for my old patterns of thinking to become engaged.
In addition to cutting out soda and sugary drinks, I’ve made it a point to avoid sugar in almost every meal I eat. This includes eating refined flours and high carb foods like pasta and breads. I’ve even given up coffee completely because drinking it encouraged me to eat. More and more I’m eating vegetables and fruits to maintain my healthy eating. This leads me to point 3 above. I’ve cut out fats and salts as much as I possibly can because I was very over-indulgent when it came to these types of foods. I’m learning new recipes and learning new ways to cook. I am educating myself as much as possible about the ingredients that go into my food and learning how to best work with food items that I may never have used before. At this point, I’m only eating meat once or twice a week, otherwise, it’s whole grains and vegetables/fruits. This has taken effort on my part but it has not been a hardship for me because I have expanded on point 4: mindful eating. In addition to eating mindfully, I’m living as mindfully as possible. Being mindful is a huge factor in the way that I relate to myself and to the world around me. Mindful living encompasses the entire way I conduct myself throughout the day from morning to night. I try to live by the following five mindfulness trainings from Plum Village.
Reverence For Life
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.
Loving Speech and Deep Listening
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.
Nourishment and Healing
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.
I cannot stress the importance of mindful living enough. Mindful living is the glue that holds everything else together. If I tried to make all of these other changes but left out mindfulness, I would fail. No questions about it, I would have already failed. Additionally, a part of living mindfully is developing a solid exercise program. This includes aerobic exercises and cardio exercises and weight training. I am trying to burn extra fat and build muscle in order to get my body into a healthy condition. I perform these tasks mindfully and work to make my exercise an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Not only am I exercising my body, but I’m exercising my mind. I make time to meditate 20-30 minutes every day and once a week I go to the Zen Center and spend time meditating with others in a group setting. Through meditation, I am becoming more mindful and am practicing in a way that will make me a better person and help to unlock the keys to ending my suffering. That leads me to a new point altogether for my list.
6. Gaining the support of friends and family
Never underestimate the importance of getting support from your social circles. I have made it a point to make those in my sangha aware of what I am doing and to let my co-workers know that I am losing weight. I have gotten a lot of support and encouragement from them and it always feels good to provide an update when one of them asks me how I am doing. My family has been an amazing source of support. From giving me encouragement to helping me see the effects of the changes I’ve made to getting me healthy options for my birthday instead of a fat and sugar covered cake. Their support for me and my efforts makes my weight loss easier and keeps me mindful of why I am doing what I am doing. In addition to my close social circles, I have added the following point that I didn’t recognize as a step toward a healthy lifestyle until recently.
7. Going public
This blog is a very public way of putting myself out for all to see. As an obese person, I have always felt that eyes were turning toward me in disparaging ways. I had a negative self-image and self-worth. In order to overcome that, I have been as open and honest and transparent as I possibly could. I made my weight one of the most prominent things on the site. I have tried to update it every day. Including the days where my weight has gone up instead of down. This openness and honesty has made it possible for me to change my perceptions of why all eyes are on me. Now, I’m losing weight, I’m changing for the better and I’m proud of my accomplishments. This blog is a way for me to share my success with the world and become successful in maintaining those changes. In short, making changes to my lifestyle and adopting Buddhism has made a tremendous amount of change possible for me. I have hope, happiness and peace where I didn’t have it before. I see myself changing and I know that I can do this. If I can do it, I want others to know that they, too, can end their suffering with their weight problems. As I continue to make positive changes, I will be tracking them here on this page. Please come back often to see what new items I may have added.