I received a framed piece of art a number of years ago made by a student artist at a local college. It’s called Forward Back and it is a charcoal sketch of a human form leaning over to the left, picking up pieces of paper in the lower left corner of the page. The same person (two upper bodies on the same lower body) is standing erect, facing right, and placing the pieces in the top right corner; pieces of which turn out to be a partial photograph of the artist as a little girl. It’s hanging in my kitchen by the old bookshelf I use as a pantry. It’s there to remind me to pick up the pieces of the past that are useful and bring only them into the present and future.
I took this photograph four years ago while on a hike in Cook Forest. I used it in a post on Refuse to Regain in 2010, the worst year of Seasonal Affective Disorder I’d ever experienced. I still get a bit affected by the cold and snow, but things are different now, thanks in part to the fact that my maintenance mentality is a bit less regimented – in other words, I’ve cut myself some slack – which has allowed me to enjoy my food and exercise life a little more without so dang much guilt. (A dab of jelly on a piece of toast when I go out for breakfast? Forbidden in 2010. 2014? Yes, please.)
Winter maintenance takes diligence, though. Not falling head first into hibernation mode is an almost daily struggle. That’s why I’m glad our new year (at least in the northern hemisphere) begins in the dead of winter. While I no longer make “resolutions,” I do welcome fresh beginnings, which – for me this year – means looking to my past for ways to tweak my current thoughts and behaviors as they pertain to weight maintenance.
Saturday night, for instance, I was sunk deep into the recliner. Jim was switching between the Chiefs-Colts playoff game and the 1970 Chiefs-Vikings Super Bowl. (We lost. The Vikings, that is. But I knew that. I’ve known that four times. But it’s like watching “Old Yeller” over and over hoping for a different ending.)
Anyway…back to the chair. I’d made Black Bean and Quinoa Soup for dinner (which, contrary to what the recipe says, does NOT serve 4, it serves at least 12…). Two hours after eating, sitting deep in the chair, blanket up to my nose, I thought, ‘I want popcorn.’ If I followed my typical behavior of the last several months, I’d have gotten up, made popcorn, and plopped back into the recliner with my popcorn.
But something about the word “want” really stuck in my head. I decided to be mindful and turn the thought into a question: ‘Do I need popcorn?’ I checked in with my stomach. “Nope,” it said. “All good here.” So I resumed playing Words With Friends and texting and watching the Vikings gets their butts handed to them on YouTube. I woke up Sunday morning with a sense of control I’d not felt in a while. A balanced control, somewhere between jelly on toast and popcorn before bed with moderate exercise in between.
The quote I included in the Refuse to Regain post still speaks to some of the ways I anticipate certain situations, but the last line – thankfully – is in contrast to how I behave when I remember to be mindful: “I never learn to learn.”
I think that’s the crux of change: choosing to learn to learn. And for me, part of that learning is relearning lessons from my past. I learned a lot of things losing weight, both this last time and all the times before. Those lessons built on themselves until I found better-than-average success this time in maintaining my weight.
Winter maintenance. Travel at your own risk. But travel with lessons learned from your past. May they serve you well in your winter journey.
To help advance (and organize!) the conversation about weight maintenance, we’ve added a new segment to our monthly AIM posts: Ask Us (almost) Anything. There’s even an easy peasy form for you to post your questions about weight maintenance, weight loss, exercise…whatever you’d like to discuss (except, perhaps, the meaning of life, to which we will refer you to the Monty Python movie). Just click this link!
Every one of us (that means ALL of us, not just the AIM group) experience weight-related issues differently and, as you well know, we all benefit from sharing ideas, struggles, successes, and most of all questions. We will address questions in this space each month. We look forward to your input!
AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!