Working towards kindly self-discipline

Monday, June 07, 2010

I wrote this as a post in one of my groups, and feel like it would be good to be able to remind myself of it in the future (as I will undoubtedly need to!). So I want to put it here in my blog too.


I think the bottom line about the scale is, if you can use it as a data point without becoming wrapped up emotionally in the readings, then weighing yourself as often as daily is no big deal. If on the other hand it makes you freak out about every single thing you ate or shouldn't, or how you are going to get that weight off NOW, or how could you EVER have let yourself GO like this... (you get the idea - if it induces some degree of hysteria) - well, then it is probably time to take a break from the scale and focus on your actions. 'Cause, see, daily ACTIONS are the **only** thing that is gonna make a long-term difference in your weight and fitness.

I tend to see the daily weighing as something that works really well for people who are already at a goal and are concerned with maintaining what they have achieved. I've read that often, they have strategies in place for making small corrections before getting farther off course than they want to be. I think that can work really well.

It may be possible that for some folks who are trying to lose, this can work as a strategic method too. But when people are so emotionally invested in weight loss it has a large risk of making them crazy. What concerns me is that I have seen WAY too many comments from dieters, here and elsewhere, that indicate some level of "OMG I AM FREAKING what should I do?!??!?!?!!!!!!?!!!!" based on a single scale reading. People doing complicated math to arrive at a "true" daily scale reading if they forgot to weigh before they drank some water or whatever. Hopping on and off the scale 5-10x, etc, etc. Assigning SO much power to that machine.

So managing the emotions/feelings is really huge. I think that in general, if you observe that the scale or anything else has so much power to produce anxiety in you, it is a sign that you need to take a step back. Mindfulness teachers might say that it would be beneficial to simply observe your thoughts and feelings without reacting to them (or bring yourself back to observation after noticing that you have reacted). Feel the feelings and notice that you are able to endure them ~ they do not destroy you. They may well not be pleasant, but they are not lethal and by not reacting, you did not cause a disaster as a result. You remain. You have the power in each moment to choose, to be fully present with your actions; you can always observe what is happening and your feelings. Over time, you can learn from this activity and your confidence in your ability to cope and handle feelings and situations will grow. You may come to a point where in certain areas of your life, you choose differently in the future, eventually from a place of relative calm rather than reactive anxiety that might have motivated you in the past.

Of course, this all does not happen overnight and it is something that I am working on in various aspects of my life. I've come to realize that I'm so used to anxiety as an hourly/daily part of my existence, I wasn't even conscious that I was clinging to it. The more I can accept myself ~ meaning my thoughts, feelings, body, everything ~ the more I can learn to speak to myself and make personal choices with awareness and compassion.

It will take time, but I believe these changes in approach will have positive ramifications in every area of my life. I am more and more convinced as time goes by that this kind of holistic approach is what it will take for me to eventually stop "wearing" my anxiety, self-criticism, etc on my body in the form of excess lbs. Perfectionism and whip-cracking might get my body where I want it to be ~ it did once before ~ but it won't help me stay there. Better to start with awareness and compassion from which may flow kindly self-discipline. So making a strong, living and breathing, mindful connection to my inner self is my goal now. When I truly trust myself, I believe I will be able to move mountains.
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