What happens when you start something, make great progress, redefine what a “normal” life is and then lose it all? That’s a question I’m asking myself lately because that’s what I did. I lost over 60 pounds and felt better than I had in a very long time. The next 40 pounds seemed like a small bump in the road compared to the hurdles I had already crossed. Losing weight was second nature at that point and I was going to coast to my goal. Then my life got turned upside down. Then it got turned upside down again and again and again. I spent 2011 and the first part of 2012 just struggling to keep my head above the emotional waters I was drowning in. I was in survival mode and all the progress I’d made evaporated. Sixty pounds down, sixty-five back up. The clothes that were stuck in the back of the closet never to be worn again made their way to the front and even they started to feel a little tight. I didn’t have the energy or the emotional bandwidth to focus on being healthy or mindful. I was still meditating and that helped me to stay focused through the turbulence and make decisions that reduced the suffering of myself and others but I wasn’t able to draw strength from it to be mindful of what I was putting inside myself.
And now, here I am. Back at square one. I watched my scale go over the 33o mark and not stop. I lost hope of ever losing again. I figured I was doomed to a life of medical complications from obesity. I had failed. Then, at this very low point, I remembered that this is how I felt when I first started to lose weight. I re-read some of my old posts and saw that I was repeating 2010 all over again. I realized if I did it once, I could do it again. I talked with a friend about the need to make positive life choices and started to focus once again on doing that. The emotional turmoil I was dealing with has mostly subsided and I have learned how to cope and with things and process issues as they arise. I could do it. I will do. I am doing it.
I’ve started exercising again. I haven’t had soda for a week. I’m paying attention to the food choices I make and I’m trying to plan ahead to have healthy foods when it is time to eat. I am focusing on why I eat what I do and asking myself if it’s a good idea to eat it. I’ve already lost seven pounds. There is a saying in Zen, “Correct Situation, Correct Function, Correct Action” and I’m trying to put this into practice when I sit down to eat. At a meal time, the situation is to provide my body the fuel it needs to be healthy. The correct function is to eat mindfully and be aware of how my body responds to eating. The correct action is to eat foods that are healthy for my body and to stop once I’ve provided the fuel my body needs. When I find myself craving sugar or fats or unhealthy foods I am asking myself what the correct action and correct function is for the situation I find myself in. Ten times out of ten, the correct function and action is to not eat the unhealthy food or drink the sugary drink. I haven’t made healthy decisions every single time but more often than not I am. When I do make the wrong choice I am making it a point to have compassion on myself and to pay close attention to the long-term negative effects of the bad choice rather than the short-term reward of a quick fix. Reminding myself that after the soda there is a crash and being mindful of that crash makes it easier to resist the next time around. Last night I wanted a soda so bad I could taste it. I chose to focus on the task that I was supposed to be doing instead and sent a text message to a friend for support and a reminder that I’m making the right choice. It was just one small victory in a long chain of good decisions that will lead me back to good health.