Weighty Matters

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On Not Doing What We Know Works

We humans are odd.  We want what we want when we want it.  We’re impatient and when we make an effort, we’d like the instant gratification of immediate results.

Yet, there are many times when we absolutely know what we should be doing, or at least what helps us when we do it but . . . we don’t do it.

I was reminded of this at that Tai Chi workshop.  A practitioner in his early 20s shared that he has had Type 1 diabetes since he was a child.  He needs insulin injections about eight times a day and suffers from neuropathy pain in his hands and feet.  He has balance and strength issues.  During a time when we were sitting around talking about different health benefits we’ve experienced since practicing Tai Chi, he said that on the days he does a set, he notices that he can reduce the number of insulin injections.  That’s terrific!

The instructor then asked him, “If you know that this happens when you practice, why don’t you do it every day?”

The young man replied, “I’m young.  I’m lazy.”  Credit him for honesty.

Tai Chi works for him in a very obvious, concrete, immediately-realized way.  He should do it every day and knows this, but sometimes chooses not to out of laziness.

I thought about this a lot.  I have very basic tools in my toolkit that really help me.  Sometimes I use them and my life and recovery are easier to maintain.  Sometimes I just blow them off and that gets me into trouble.

So, why don’t I always use the tools?  Beats me.  Well, no, actually there are a number of reasons and, depending on the day, any one of them could be at the forefront.  Sometimes laziness.  Sometimes emotional turmoil or I’m running late and don’t make time to plan.  I admit that there are some day when I just don’t feel like it.

To be brutally honest, there are often times when I resent the hell out of the fact that the tools are necessary.  I really, really hate having an eating disorder.

Reasons — I have a variety.  However, none of them matter.  None of them are justifiable excuses.

Bottom line – even when I feel lazy or emotionally off, even when I’m running late or fail to pre-plan, I still need to use my tools and take care of myself.  Resenting the eating disorder doesn’t make it go away.  Not doing what I know works hands the power over to the eating disorder.

So, for me, the solution is that I need to ignore all of the reasons for not doing what I know works and do it anyway.



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Better to Light a Candle

It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness. I first heard a variation of that proverb when I was in grade school. A great book came out in 1970 called Light a Single Candle about a teenage girl who goes blind.

I’ve always interpreted the saying as a way to cope when life, or a situation, attempts to overwhelm me. Rather than sit and complain or fret about how huge the problem appears, I try to break it down into smaller areas. It might be too big for me to fix or change all at once, but I can find those smaller areas where I can accomplish single changes and begin my progress on a solution.

Yes, having weight loss surgery was one huge change to one humongous problem. Preparing for it was almost overwhelming with the myriad of different doctors I had to see, the tests that needed to be scheduled and experienced, the follow ups, the evaluations, the planning, etc. It could easily have overwhelmed me but I approached it all one appointment at a time.

When I get super busier-than-usual-busy at work and I wonder how in the hell I’ll get everything done, I make a list. Every project on the list can be successfully accomplished, one at a time. Sometimes each project needs to be broken into a series and schedule of tasks — all single candles in their own right.

I find that the “light a candle” proverb meshes well with the Serenity Prayer. If I’m having a stressful day, I think about what I can change or do and what I can’t. Which candle can I ignite to burn brightly and make the darkness — or the stress, or the workload, or whatever — less oppressive?

Right now, I evaluating my food plan. Things are going pretty well and I want to stay on this roll. Sometimes, my mind gets a little overwhelmed with all of the elements that create my successful recovery. So, I’m breaking them down into smaller pieces to keep going with what works. These little candles become more manageable goals.

This week, there are two actions that I want to make sure I continue with in terms of my food. They contribute positive success to the overall goal of not eating compulsively and staying within my calorie and nutrition plan. One is to continue incorporating more vegetables than I have been eating. (I realized that most of my daily fruit and vegetable servings tended to be fruit and not veggies. More sugar was creeping in than I needed. Now I feel like I have it in better balance.) The other thing is to continue preparing my work meals (mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack) the night before. I started doing so last week and it really helped! I plan better when I’m not rushed as I tend to be in the morning.

These are my two candles for the week. More veggies/less fruit; Advance preparation. These actions are clearly not overwhelming. They are easy to manage and the results are great.

So, anybody else have a lot going on that might be less overwhelming if broken down into single candles? Feel free to share!