I remember a moment years ago when I was attending a Catholic mass and Father Tom, an incredibly talented and wise priest, read Jesus' words, “What do you want me to do for you?” I was startled because I don’t ever remember hearing those words before. “What do you want me to do for you?” Father Tom asked us – "What do you want him to do for you?"
The amazing thing about that moment was that I didn’t really know the answer. Imagine, you can get anything you want if you can just say what it is. My point has nothing to do with Jesus. My point is: are we ready to live the life we want, right now? If someone came up to you and asked, “What are the underlying values that guide your life and your wants?” "When you end your day, are you satisfied that the time you spent fulfilled your values and goals?" Are you living your own life, or the life other people desire for you? Are you living fully in your body, or are you hiding?
It is human to be distracted by the goings on around us. It is easier not to stop and look at the inner workings of your life. We have so many distractions to help us avoid ourselves. I heard it said that tomorrow you will be exposed to more information than William Shakespeare was exposed to in his entire life.
My point is, are you curious enough to stop and ask yourself - "What are the guiding principles that drive my desires? What it is I want to achieve? If you want to lose 40 lbs., do you know why you want to lose it? Is that reason good enough, compelling enough? Losing weight and living a healthy life style isn’t easy. Forty-one percent of U.S. women over the age of 60 are considered obese. Middle aged women who were abused as children are twice as likely to be obese than their counterparts.
Creating any goal that you have not achieved before isn’t easy. Knowing the answer to these questions doesn’t guarantee that you will achieve your goal. But I guarantee that if you don’t know why you want it, and if your why isn’t compelling enough, and if you aren’t committed, it will be impossible. Here are some questions to ask:
1. What kind of a person do you want to be?
2. What do you value?
3. What do you want achieve?
4. Why do you want to achieve it?
5. How bad do you want it?
6. Are you willing to commit to the actions that will get you there?
7. Are you willing to trade discomfort to achieve it?
I will answer that I want to live a rich, full life; exploring, learning, growing, giving, loving and receiving.
You could say that these are my values. Plus, I would add: honesty, courage, integrity, creativity and enjoyment. I value compassion and kindness. I don’t want to run away from the ugly parts of life. I want to be able to see if there is injustice and not deny it or ignore it. I value all parts of the life cycle, including birth and death.
How is losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle going to get me a full, rich life?
I watched my mother and aunts suffer from diabetes, emphysema and lung cancer.
I saw my brother die of addiction and lack of health care.
These things were real. The suffering, time, and cost of these diseases -- all lifestyle driven. Too much food, sugar, cigarettes and drugs. My daughter won’t have her grandmother or her uncle at her wedding.
The journey to losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle that I take for granted today was filled with discomfort. Freaking out because I was hungry, not a familiar feeling, and one I had avoided at all costs. Food was everywhere -- at work, on my way home. I spent endless hours planning, securing, unwrapping, and hiding food and then trying to undo it all by restricting.
Now that I am neutral about food -- I mean I plan it, eat it and it is done -- the food mind chatter is gone. I am learning new things and there is new chatter!
The unfamiliar is very uncomfortable.
Today I heard the story of a group of monks who were being attacked by a wild dog. Most of the monks were cowering with fear and one monk decided to run as fast as he could towards the dog. The dog was startled and ran away with his tail between his legs.
Can you run towards the discomfort of being hungry? Fast as you can right at the anxiety of feeling your emotions. Fast track toward the moment when you are at an event and someone asks, “Dessert?” Can you speed right into your family holiday dinner, when eyes are rolling because someone has an opinion of your (yet again) new eating habits?
There is success waiting at the other side of that threatening and unfamiliar feeling. I made it to the other side of discomfort. I love what I eat, how I eat, how I fit into clothes, how easy it is to get dressed in the morning. Waking up without recrimination and guilt. Now these are the goodies. I don’t want to trade these for the mini party I would have in my mouth for the brief moment of a bite of what used to be my favorite ice cream. (The year I was pregnant I ate more ice cream than most adults outside the US have eaten in their lifetime. In their lifetime!)
Overeating and feeling sick, being distracted with food thoughts and plans; waking up hating myself and being unkind. Causing myself pain and suffering. That is not a rich, full life. (It is a full belly, not a full life!)
I didn't I could achieve a natural weight and maintain it. When I learned about brain science and the science of changing habits, I was all in. Then I learned the connection between thoughts and feelings. Now I am learning the difference between wanting something and being committed to it. Let's continue on this new path; identify your values, create your goals, watch your mind, embrace discomfort and meet your goals. Buckle your seatbelt, we're in for a bumpy ride!
I have only one life. Do you have a spare?