Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Re-setting the mind

Last night, the womanchild asked my help with an English paper. What she wanted from me was a sounding board where she could clarify her thoughts before putting them into print. She's reached the age where parental stupidity seems paramount, so it's been a long time since she asked for my help with anything other then laundry, cooking and transportation. I was honored, touched and glad to help.

I've always been one to have fun with collaborative work, and seeing that sharp mind of hers in action has always been a delight. She'd tell me her thoughts. I'd make a suggestion or ask a question. She'd challenge or clarify my thinking. Sometimes, she'd add one of my suggestions. More often, she'd go her own route of putting her mind down on paper. It was work for her but fun for me.

After she printed her final copy, she said, "This was more like you used to be. I miss the way you used to write."

My response was basically, "Huh?" After all, my processes for writing are still the same. I still give it roughly the same amount of time, though I haven't been pleased with my results for months now.

She added, "You've changed. I haven't wanted to bring it up because I didn't want you to think it was all about your diet, but that's all you seem to think about now."

Well, talk about 'from the mouths of babes'. She laid right out in front of me what's been nagging me for quite some time now. I am obsessed, and despite liking the results and some of the processes of my diet, I don't like that aspect of it.

There's no denying that I needed to lose weight. These were not vanity pounds. My weight was affecting my ability to live life the way I wanted. Losing weight has meant that I had to make a serious commitment to re-engaging with my body, to eating in a more mindful, conscious, respectful way and to moving. These are all good things, but any good thing, whether it's the voluptuous savoring of a delicious meal or a diet, carried to excess is dangerous. I know this quite literally. The days when the womanchild was starving and purging to poor health and near death are not that far behind us.

I weigh every day, despite knowing that's stupid. I know that the human body can fluctuate pounds within hours. Tracking my food intake has been a major component of my success, yet I want more things in my mind than how many points are in each bite of food that I take. I'm spending too much time thinking about what to do with my hair to best flatter my now more obvious cheekbones or what clothing I ought to buy to look better. Am I becoming a superficial twit? Or is that buying into another stereotype that an attractive woman can't be a serious woman?

I know that I want to continue losing weight, but I'm also seeing that I have to develop a new discipline. I have to keep this in perspective. Everything we do comes with an opportunity cost. (If I remember nothing else from Economics, I've got that principle locked in.) So then what is the opportunity cost of my diet? What am I giving up to focus more on my food, exercise and health? It must be worth it. It can not subtract something of true value from my life. I cannot let this diet change more than habits and size, because what and who I am is pretty darn fantastic.

I often find my answers within my own words. I've long seen that as one of the delightful, tricky and mysterious graces of God/dess that what we seek often seems to come from within. In reading back a paragraph or two, I think I found the key to my answer. This is about how I want to live my life. I don't want to live it under the burden of pounds that hurt my joints, impact my ability to breathe and force my heart into a racing pace. I also don't want to live my life under the burden of thoughts that won't escape a severely limited range of allowable ideas. I am more than than the quantifiable measure of a body. Living with respect for the totality of me, mind, body and spirit, must be the true discipline, not just the monitoring of my food and exercise.

This entry was originally posted at Taking Off.


Blogger Songbird said...

Thank you. I had been wondering some similar things about myself, and also wondering if some of my writing "juice" hadn't dried up as I spent time counting points this summer.

August 28, 2007 1:46 PM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

Hurrah for the womanchild. Your description of your time together is lovely.

August 28, 2007 5:24 PM  
Blogger Charlene said...

Obsession vs Balance - the age old dilemma. That was one of the things that really bothered me about WW. "They" say that once you become accustomed to the plan, you can keep up without really focusing on it. Never happened with me! And true enough, in the beginning you HAVE to obsess to find out where you are, and what it feels like to eat 'normally.' I believe I have found my balance, without the constant focus on food, diet, menu, but it is certainly not easy. You will get there since the light has been turned on!

August 29, 2007 1:05 PM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

I know this is one of the main reasons I avoid the whole weight loss thing. I cannot bear the thought of how much mind-space the project would take. This is a terrific reflection on the issue.

September 01, 2007 1:50 PM  

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