Love is…my husband, who moved my weight bench to the living room and brought down my favorite chair from the upstairs bedroom and set it up in my exercise room because it’s the brightest room in the house and because I’m sick with a stomach bug, fever and headache and can’t stand the thought of sitting in a dark living room because I’ve had it up to my neck with Seasonal Affective Disorder and because the exercise room is closer to the bathroom. Oh, and he shoveled a path covered with nearly a foot of snow to get to the car to dig it out to go to the store to buy me Vitamin Water and Canada Dry Ginger Ale.
He’s a keeper.
I’ve been ruminating this week on a quote by Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury.
“Being human,” he wrote, “is learning how to ask critical questions of your habits and compulsions, and it’s learning how to adjust them against a model of human behavior and idealized truth about the purpose of our humanity.”
So what is the model of human behavior and purpose of our humanity? And what is the best space in which to ask critical questions about our habits and compulsions? In my experience – at least in terms of what I’ve learned these last five years of weight loss and maintenance – it’s to always try to act from a place of compassion and love.
It takes self love and compassion just to ask the question, “What are my habits and compulsions?” and even more self love and compassion to adjust your answers to reflect that love and compassion.
Take my thighs (please…yuck, yuck, yuck). But seriously, it used to be that when I’d look at my thighs, my habit was to say, “Gross! Look at the dimples and loose skin! I can’t wear shorts!” By implementing a bit of compassion and love, I now (usually) see how strong they are. They get me from point A to point B without much complaint. I take care of them, they take care of me, and the dimples and skin are part of the scenery.
Like Robert Frost’s road less traveled, viewing my body through the lens of compassion and love has made all the difference. It was the gateway for finding the commitment to lose weight and it’s the guiding force that keeps my commitment strong in maintenance.
But you know and I know commitment is not easy. Whether it’s weight loss, marriage, career, or even writing a blog, commitment takes nothing less than everything we’ve got and we can use all the positive tools we can find to remember our goals.
I’ve said before how when I contemplate eating something I’m not sure about I ask, “How will I feel five minutes after eating this?” Just contemplating the question gives me space in which to think about my choice rather than mindlessly shoving something in my mouth. Lately I’ve expanded that question to include compassion and love, and I ask it in broader circumstances.
This might seem corny or uncomfortable at first, but ask yourself every morning, “How will I treat myself with compassion and love today?” When you are confronted with a choice of food or something else that’s not part of your plan for the day, ask yourself, “Would eating/doing this be an act of personal love and compassion?” Sometimes the answer will be yes and sometimes the answer will be no, but it’s the act of asking and contemplating that will bring your original intentions – whether that’s to lose weight or any other goal you’ve set for yourself – back to the forefront. Your ultimate choice might not always be compassionate (self sabotage is one of my unhealthy patterns), but I really believe that the more we confront them, the less power our habits and compulsions will have.
I had plans today, and being sick wasn’t one of them. But instead of sitting around in the less-bright living room and adding to my own suffering by wishing things weren’t what they are, I asked Larry to bring down my chair so I could be in the room that’s brightest. I took care of me and in turn, he took care of me. Love and compassion.
I’m a keeper. You’re a keeper.
And now I must get my face out of this computer and take a nap.
By the way, do you remember that Dr. Pepper commercial to which the title eludes? When the heck did that come out? My memory isn’t what it used to be.