I’ll never be overweight again. I believe that I’ve licked (pun intended) the habit of emotional eating, and I’ve instituted a pattern of physical activity that I fiercely defend. I realize, however, that I must always stay vigilant. I’ve learned, and am here to lead by example: it’s not about the food, and not even about the exercise. It requires an about-face change of mentality and change of life, and I don’t mean “change of life,” as apropos as the term may be.
When younger, I jumped into everything without fear, thought, or reflection afterwards. Now, however, I am finally learning the art of savoring every morsel of food, every personal encounter, and every material possession I decide to purchase. Half a century of not doing that has sometimes caused me to battle a proclivity to hoard food, things and even people.
I’m still doing well with the food. An interesting phenomenon I now encounter are people who have known me both fat and thin. When they see me, their first reaction is,”wow, you’ve managed to keep your weight off.” I don’t blame my acquaintances for not trusting my resolve, but, the metaphoric pen writing these words hopefully assures accountability.
I had been in the habit of attributing my success to Weight Watchers until last week. If you can imagine, after 25 years as a lifetime member, I ran afoul of some fine print that I’d apparently never had the experience of having to read! I hadn’t really been following their rules anyway this time around; I have not counted a “point” or written down a minute of exercise. I decided about a year and a half ago that I could only tolerate dropping in once a month to weigh-in and participate in a group meeting. I felt that small fluctuations in weight week-to-week would be a disincentive. My theory worked for me, and this time, as I’ve touted to anyone who reads or hears me: I’ve lost 35 pounds to date.
I’ve also maintained a below goal weight for the past six months, which is supposed to grant you free admission to meetings. The sweetness of NOT paying (currently a steep $14/session versus four hours of dancing for $10) tastes better than strawberry shortcake. So, imagine my dismay when I was asked to pony up $14, because life had kept me away in November. As if I were playing their game!? I’d hopped on the scale for a minute and managed to see that my weight was good for yet a seventh month, but departed the comfort zone of my Weight Watchers community in consternation, without official weigh-in or paying.
Although the policy may be designed to protect us from ourselves (like helmet and seat belt laws), I didn’t like the idea of being “fined” for missing a month. It’s ironic that even though I was nominally a “lifetime” member, I’d never been true enough to the cause to know about, let alone break the rules. My new strategy to spite the charge is: continue to lose and/or maintain my weight with a vengeance. But I will stretch out my weigh-ins to half year increments now, knowing that I’ll have to pay the $14 once then, just to keep myself “kosher” with the program. Alas, I am my father’s daughter, he, too, objected to rules meant to “save you from yourself.” I chafe at bureaucratic and/or profit-driven corporate initiatives. Wish me luck sans security blanket for a while!
Speaking of savoring food and purchases, the day before my weigh-in, I drove myself to New York Bagel & Deli in my original “hood” – Mar Vista – to partake of a bialy with the smallest portion you can buy of white fish salad ($18.98/pound). My guilty pleasure: I tasted, sniffed and felt the crunchiness of every single bite. My Dumbo ears took in conversations around me, as I cast my eyes out onto National Blvd: a thoroughfare I’ve traversed east-west or crossed north-south most days of my life. Sensory nearly turns sensual becoming one with a freshly baked bialy topped with white fish salad. I then proceeded to a holiday festooned mall, where I carefully purchased only the items on my list, with no impulse buys. I am still observing a financial austerity akin to my dietary austerity. On the money journey for about three months, I’m learning to work this too into a mindful, or shall I say mindLESS pattern of behavior also. Driven into spending sobriety by a dangerous cocktail of an empty rental property without buyers, some emergency purchases (new washer-dryer, new phone, new glasses, new car) topped off with some other expenses, learning how to live on cash is like learning how to eat only a certain number of calories a day.
Being more judicious about food intake and fund outlay is half the battle. The other half is a process I’ve been writing about since the advent of Ruth’s Truths. It is me aiming to ensure that my personal encounters are positive ones. My goal is to maintain quality connections with people I enjoy, by being confident enough to express my feelings honestly to them, and to myself. Conversely, I am learning to disengage as quickly and painlessly as possible from people I do not enjoy, without feeling the necessity to explain.
Deflecting unwanted food, items or attention is one thing, but divesting myself from established habits, ridding myself of things like stockpiled clothing and electronics and deleting worn-out “friendships” is the most heart-wrenching part of the process. For example, I still can’t bring myself to de-friend a person on Facebook, as much as I sometimes ponder doing so; if and when I can, it’ll be a sign of newfound independence. Not one to wait for a new calendar year to make a resolution, I hereby commit to continuing to downsize: the body, the lifestyle, and the contact list.