I was always a little chubby, having been raised with the idea that there is no pain that chocolate or a fat-laden meal could not eradicate. Thankfully by my teenage years, I started to feel conscious of my growing curves and decided to take matters into my own hands. I joined Weight Watchers and started exercising. How did I stay motivated? Simple: anything I wanted to eat that I felt would derail me from my goal, I promised myself to have later when I had lost the weight. For example, if I was tempted with ice cream, I would say, “when I am at my goal weight I will have this ice cream.”
I spent my 20s as light as a feather, feeling that I had finally won my mother’s approval when she egged me on to eat something or that I was too thin, basking in the rays of “normalcy” instead of her looking at me with the corner of her eye and checking how much I was eating. Of course by that time, I had shunned so many foods for so long that they were no longer part of my repertoire. I was no longer even tempted by ice cream or burgers, which by that time had started giving me headaches.
Twenty years and three kids later, I was chubby again. I had somehow slowly lost my ingrained habits and started developing new ones: a glass of wine in the evening (or 2 or 3), finishing the kids’ food or tasting it at least, sleeping in instead of going out for a run…
I was not the shape or size that I wanted to be. I hated myself in the pictures. I was tired half the time and bored the second, but I was grateful! I was grateful for my beautiful children, grateful for their good health (and mine!), grateful for a loving husband…just generally grateful.
And very mindful. I was totally living the present moment, aware of all the internal and external stimuli when sharing a meal of nuggets with my kids or how good a glass of wine made me feel! I would slowly savor a chocolate, so much so, and so enjoyable was the experience, that I wanted to do it again and again. I was so focused on the present moment, on the here and now, that I could no longer see my future goals. I wanted to enjoy an ice-cream with my kids, live through a drink with my friends, experience the full three-course meal with my husband.
So what if I needed to lose 3 kilos (or 4 or 5)? What mattered was the here, the now, the moment. Besides, I knew from past experience that eschewing the pleasure now meant losing it for good. When I had previously lost weight, my desire for the all things yummy had passed, and it may pass again. There was no way I would want that ice-cream in three months, it was now or never!
And so the weight remained. And I kept on hating my pictures and enjoying my dessert. That’s when I realized, there was only one way to do this: I had to keep looking ahead, I had to stay focused on the future, not the present. Being mindful was not the way, looking ahead was. Whenever I was tempted with unhealthy food or drink I had to transport myself out of the present moment and into a future where I would be happy with my shape and my pictures! Instead of focusing on what I was feeling now, I had to think of how what I was ingesting would make me feel once the moment passed.
Nothing was about the moment, it was about pre-planning, prepping and eating preset amounts of food. That’s it. It was about arranging it and sticking to it. And then it was about doing it day after day. That’s what I had to be mindful of, and grateful for: the ability to take care of myself, to give myself the nourishment and attention that my body and my mind needed.
So, gratefulness? Yes, for my health, which is precisely why I had to keep it.
Mindfulness? Absolutely, of the future and of where I wanted to be at a later date, not now.
What about you? How do you feel that mindfulness may have affected your diet, either positively or negatively? Make sure to leave your comments below.