Thursday, July 17, 2014

Week 29 Weigh-In: No Longer Obese

169 lbs.

I hit a very nice milestone tonight - I am no longer in the Obese BMI range.  That one feels very, very good.  Those labels of "obese" and "morbidly obese" have been dogging me for many years, and worrying me, too.  As I traverse the BMI table, I feel a tremendous sense of relief.  When I look at the Overweight and Normal ranges, I think those levels are pretty interchangeable sometimes.  At my current weight, I feel like if I kept exercising and adopted a healthy diet, I'd be a very healthy person for the rest of my life, even if the table tells me I'm overweight.  I intend to have a weight range that I keep to, and that will call me into action when necessary, but we will see where it falls on the official table.

For now, I'm determined to reach my goal weight, which happens to be the topmost weight for the Normal BMI range for my height.  For me, reaching that number is more about actually accomplishing a weight loss goal.  I have only done this one other time in my life, when I was in my teens.  This is more competitive than contemplative, and I feel a little shallow even admitting it.  But that's my plan for now.

Changing the subject for a bit, my class tonight was one of the best I've gone to.  Our leader led us on a discussion of how feelings were treated in our families, and led us through remembering both a negative and a positive emotional experience in our lives.

Some of us come from families where it was considered "weak" to show emotion, especially negative emotions.  Some people couldn't summon up those times or put them into words.  It's a safe place for all of us, no matter what we were able to do and talk about.  The takeaway was to stop and think about what we are feeling, especially when we are turning to food for something other than nourishment. This is what we were to remember:

  • Identify the feeling we are having and name it
  • Look at what is causing the feeling
  • Validate the normalcy of our emotional response to whatever is happening.  Allow ourselves some time to feel the feeling without regrets or guilt.
  • Look for the origin of how we are feeling under those circumstances (was it a childhood experience?  Did we have a past trauma that is being conjured up in this particular instance?)

  It's difficult for me walk through negative feelings without a detour to the refrigerator.  This fast has removed my food crutch, so I've been reading some Buddhist writings on negative feelings, and have found it helpful to view them as teachers and as avenues toward developing greater humility.  I'm fond of the writings of Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun.  Here are some of her thoughts:

“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.” 
― Pema ChödrönWhen Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

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“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, "May I have permission to go into battle with you?" Fear said, "Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission." Then the young warrior said, "How can I defeat you?" Fear replied, "My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power." In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. ” 
― Pema ChödrönWhen Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” 
― Pema Chödrön

“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that's all that's happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction. On the other hand, wretchedness--life's painful aspect--softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody's eyes because you feel you haven't got anything to lose--you're just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We'd be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn't have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.” 
― Pema ChödrönStart Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

I realize that these are a lot of quotes from one wise woman, but I have found her writing to be very thought-provoking, and I'm trying to learn some of these skills.  I think what my leader was talking about today is exactly what Pema was suggesting.  When we fear an emotion, and our instinct is to soften it with food, or run away from it.  Sitting and staring at it, making sense of it, takes away some of the power that it holds.

I'm hoping that with practice I'm able to do this, more and more.  I think I have experienced a little bit of improvement in trying this.

I hope all of you are doing well on your programs, and feeling healthier and more confident as a result.  I wish you all the very best and I'm sending you good wishes right now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations :)