• Should I diet?
• Should I exercise?
• Should I do both or nothing?
• Should I even attempt to lose weight or just accept that this is how my body is?
¬What a dilemma! I have had so many futile discussions with myself about this over the last few years as I keep gaining weight. Before that, I never really had a problem with weight. Although, I am a big woman, my weight was always proportionately distributed and people were always surprised to learn how much I weighed because I did not ‘look’ it. Having more muscle and heavy bones accounted for the weight. I loved to dance, walk and play, so I never really thought of going to the gym or working out.
• When did it all change?
As children were growing up, there were parties, picnics, hikes and a lot of activity. Once they left the ‘nest’ and went off to college and other destinations, things seemed to change overnight. Life became more sedentary and fatigue set in. Initially, I relished the quiet and the rest, but soon, inactivity coupled with mild depression of the ‘empty nester’ and other stresses of life events without the cushion provided by the distraction and joy of the presence of children it started to take its toll. Before I knew it, I was gaining weight and could not seem to stop it. Diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure did not help. I needed to exercise and increase activity to control these conditions but was too tired because of these conditions to take the initiative. I just lost myself in work, stress and fatigue. There were spurts of effort to climb out of that hole, but excessive eating, not much exercise and poor body image disconnected me from my reality. Shopping for clothes became painful because nothing looked good and the size kept going up. Instead of taking charge, I just started making excuses. I don’t have time. I am too tired. I do exercise but it doesn’t help, so why try. I was tired in my mind and soul and it was reflecting in my body.
• Calories, taste or nourishment?
In all this, I did not however let myself sink too low. I kept making the effort and quitting…but I never stopped making an effort. For a while I was very hard on myself and very, very critical. While I did not hate myself, I hated the image I had created. As a spiritual life coach, I knew that I was responsible for this creation. Very often I would either justify or simply put off dealing with it. In a way that served to prevent me from internalizing it to the extent where it could damage my psyche deeply.
Another thing that helped me was the fact that for me ‘diet’ was a four-letter word. I knew I would only work to lose weight by exercising or controlling portions, never substituting my food with consuming empty calories. Understanding that catering to ‘taste’ with empty calories would deplete my body of nourishment and create very low vibrations in the body that would become a mere shell. It would lower my immunity and create a space for every passing virus or bacteria to set up camp. That was not acceptable to me. A few (okay, more than a few!) pounds were a small price to pay for a relatively healthy immune system. No, it was not an ideal weight. I was not comfortable, but while I worked out a routine to deal with it, at least I was not spiraling into an abyss from where I would have no resources to lift me up.
• What did I decide to do?
Eventually, I came to terms with the situation after a lot of self-reflection. What did I really want? I wanted to be around to see my grandkids grow up. I wanted to fulfil my dream of seeing sales of my self-help book soar. I wanted my research for the next book to be fruitful. Working on the two books was also an incentive. In my first book, How to Help Yourself to Be Who You Want to Be, there were some tools and skills that I shared, so it only made sense that I use those as well.
Just insights into what needs to be done were not enough. I needed to follow through and practice what I was preaching.
Here’s what I decided to do to take charge and actually start creating a different reality so that I would have what I wanted my life and my body to be:
1. I realized that I am the common factor in all my efforts to release (not lose, because I don’t want to find it again!) excess weight, whether I control my food intake or overeat, or whether I exercise or make excuses. I need to accept responsibility for my actions and choices whether I succeed or fail, instead of blaming the food or the ‘diet plan’. These plans are only as good as my follow through.
2. If I fail, I need some self-reflection to figure out what is triggering these choices. When I know that it is for my benefit that I need to release excess pounds, why then do I keep sabotaging my efforts? There could be mental, emotional and spiritual reasons. The effort to identify that is worth the time invested.
3. As I reflect or fail or quit, I learn to forgive myself and start again when ready. If I start beating myself up, I defeat the purpose of the whole exercise. Forgiving myself doesn’t mean, I keep making excuses. I encourage myself for making the effort. I identify where I lost the connection and fell off the wagon, and find out what I can substitute that with, which will be more conducive to my efforts and keep me on track.
4. My participation is key. This includes understanding why I should eat some high calorie foods to provide the nourishment that will satisfy my hunger while helping me stay on track.
5. I decided to find an exercise routine that works for me. If I only follow what ‘is supposed to be good for me’ but I don’t connect with it, it will only make it easy for me to drop it. I should make it fun. Something that I enjoy and look forward to doing. There are so many options available that there should not be a problem to design one for myself. Is it Yoga? Do I prefer the machines in a gym? Do I like to hike? Do I like to walk but the weather does not permit it? I could walk in an indoor mall. Don’t like going to the gym? Should I invest in an exercycle or a treadmill? What if I cannot go to a Yoga class? There are countless videos available. Take action! Just do something!
6. Do not ignore the importance of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual states. These are all inter-dependent. When you reflect, take a look at all the situations and then determine what to do about it. Start small. Do not attempt to have a glorious body in a week that has taken years to get into this condition.
7. After much reflection, I have currently decided to start gentle movements for 20 minutes a day. As I get older, my body gets stiffer. There was a time, I could be the ‘pretzel’ that some of the yoga poses require you to be, but I have lost that flexibility. While I know I may never fully get back to that, I am working on it slowly but surely to restore it. To help that along, I take a tonic and Dr. Scheussler’s cell salt, along with the daily 20-minute movement routine.
Understand your limitations. Assess your health and capacity impartially and realistically. Love your body – as is. After all, it is carrying you through this life in spite of all the traumas and stress. Thank it often. Thank your systems – circulatory, nervous, digestive etc., for doing the best they are capable of. When you integrate and balance all your ‘selves’, creating what you truly desire, it will become so much easier.
Let the journey begin…. again!!!