“Are you waiting for time to show you some better thoughts?” William Stafford asks in one of my poems, and for me, when it comes to weight-loss, the answer is a resounding yes.
Since I turned from a skinny, hyper kid into a not-so-skinny, hyper adult, I’ve lived the illusion that eventually, I would lose the extra weight and be, if not skinny, at least not fat. Like so many of us, I vowed to get rid of, release, launch away from, and otherwise toss off first 10 pounds, then 20, then….. New Year’s resolutions, Rosh Hashana and Days of Awe thoughts, beginning of any new season, and even Chinese New Year reminded me of this, all based on a good measure of habit, cultural pressure, family legacy and mythology, and self-inflicted stupidity that I was not enough if my weight was too much.
The path away from big-belly-jiggle is lined with discarded diets and new ways of “healthier,” and telling myself how much happier and healthier I would be if I weighed even 15 pounds less. I also teetered between what always felt like mandatory extremes: patrol myself vigorously to lose weight, or mushroom into a self-hating morbidly obese creature. Because it is true that I am thrilled when I lose weight, and I tend to enjoy better digestive experiences when I’m more careful with what I eat, and it’s true that I’ve lost weight at times from watching myself like a hawk, and I’ve gained weight when adopting a laissez-faire attitude, it’s hard to leave behind the weight stories.
Old stories die hard. Or not. It’s the “not” that I’m considering now as I realize how I have made some changes somewhat easily by listening to my body and actually acting as if I love it. Over the last decade, I became a yogi and yoga teacher (who would’ve thought?), took on weight-lifting, amped up long walks, and even began swimming regularly (in the summers) and occasionally biking and dancing again. I’ve gone from someone who exercised maybe once or twice a week to someone who generally does something energetic and physical everyday, and I’ve done this with this body, not waiting for another body that could do squats with a smaller bootie.
What if my life isn’t predicated on a silly premise that once I lose five or ten or twenty more pounds, I’ll have arrived where I need to be? What if being here and now at this size and shape is home? How do I replace my decades of not-so-good thoughts about all this (“I’ve just lost a pound, and if I can keep this up, in three months, I will look and feel fabulous!”) with something better, not just for now, but for the future so I won’t keep wasting the beauty and vitality of this shining world?
The answer once again comes from the living earth and sky outside the cluttered attic of my mind: the wind picks up, the cottonwood leaves flutter, a chevron of geese pass over, the sunlight dances on the old quilt of this bed. Wake up. Breathe. “What are you waiting for?” the stillness and motion ask. “Nothing,” I answer.