.I dont know how it happened or when! I just woke up one day and I was fat! Worsemorbidly obese?
Absurd? Perhaps, but like millions of other obese people, Ive made the same incredulous claim. It may indeed be absurd, but its also amazing that we can spend years mindlessly gorging ourselves with food as if were hypnotized. Then one fateful day, we wake up and we see what weve become. The horror! We stare into the mirror in disbelief, denying our own culpability as if all that fat happened to us. Our girth seems like an alien life form and getting rid of it seems to be beyond our own control.
In a strange way, compulsive overeating and other addictive behaviors are outside of our control. Thats because our eating disorders do not reflect a lack of self-control. We are the victims of a disease and are no more at fault than anyone else with a serious illness. Mercifully fat neednt be fatal. There are precepts, people, and programs that can help us peer into the mirror and begin to recognize from the inside what shapes us on the outside.
Alone In The Crowd
One of every three adults is obese in America. Among African American and Hispanic children 40 percent are already weighed down with health problems caused by excess weight. On any given day, anywhere in the country people watchers can bear witness to the fact that we are a poorly nourished, dangerously unhealthy country. And those people watchers who look with their hearts can see something else, too: many of those overweight souls feel frustrated, sick, and oh so alone.
Want Smaller Hips? Exercise Your Brain
Losing those thunder-thighs and that beer belly starts above the neck. What our minds are full of is what fills our fat cells. Im stupid. Im ugly. No one could ever really love me. Thats not just fat around your middle, thats heartache, anguish, and self-loathing. Our thoughts fuel our souls which nurture or poison our bodies. Its not just the junk food we put into our mouths thats killing us; its the junk in our heads, too.
Ive battled my weight since forever, but recently Ive enjoyed some measure of success not just with losing weight, but with losing the obsession over my weight. My fat doesnt fill my every waking thought anymore, and as a result Im beginning to drop the pounds.
Adherents to 12-step programs and similar support groups will attest to the fact that neither the food nor the fat are the problems. Its what causes us to fixate on food - the underlying emotional, psychological, and experiential factors that drive us toward the food and away from the painor so we hope.
Through The Looking Glass of Self-Awareness
A recent article in Time magazine described the increasing popularity of therapeutic regime called mindfulness. Its a new-ish spin on an old precept which suggests that our thoughts shape our world, our bodies, and our perceptions of both.
According to the Time article, There are nearly 1,000 certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, instructors teaching mindfulness techniques [including meditation], and they are in nearly every state and more than 30 countries.
Just think about itno, I mean thats the point of mindfulness: to just think about it, whatever it happens to be at the moment. Showing up mentally and being present to every sensation of the moment in the moment, is a little like pressing the pause button on your inner-remote control.
Freezing a moment in time so that you can experience it can make the other moments of your daythe more frenetic ones over which you have less controlmore bearable, even pleasurable. Whod have thought that being self-conscious could be a good thing! The therapeutic self-consciousness of mindfulness can develop into self-awareness which is transformative. The ultimate goal is self-acceptance.
I Am My Own Lab Rat
With the exception of professional achievements of which Ive been privileged to receive quite a fewI never really showed up for my life for my own sake. It was always about someone elses demands or expectations. My desires werent even on the list, which drove me toward the food to muffle the cries of my neglected heart. Now I test the effectiveness of mindfulness on my own psyche and so far I have been impressed with the results.
For example, when I exercise, I focus on each movement as an act of self-love. I dont punish myself for being fat with brutal, strenuous exercises. Instead, everything I do is coupled with a positive affirmation about me. Im teaching my brain to recognize and respond to self-love. Happily, that little clump of gray matter between my ears isnt very discriminating, so when it hears me say things like, I am beautiful as I am and worth the effort to be healthy, it believes me and my whole body relaxes into the workout instead of groaning for it to be over soon.
Likewise, with food, I try to make healthy food choices, not so much because of my weight, but because Im teaching me to love me enough to want to make healthy choices. Like any other exercise, this is a deliberate, conscious act of my will. Im still a little clumsy at it, but every day in every way, I am getting better and better at it.
I am learning to embrace the truth that I am not my fat, and the tighter my grasp on this reality becomes, the more my fat loses its grip on my body, my heart, and my spirit.