As the time for making resolutions passes and the time for implementing these resolutions also passes, I find myself thinking about how people go about doing this year after year. I doubt how successful most people are. It is wonderful that so many people have the desire to make positive changes in their life, but the way they go about it is often flawed.
I find this particularly true with the desire to lose weight. It seems that most people experience this at one time or another and therefore can almost all relate to this desire. I find that the first problem is that people make a goal for themselves. Goals are often considered to be postive things, but I find that they make behaviour change difficult. I would have you consider instead exploring your values and finding how well you are following what you value in life. I often find that goals are too far off for people to see them as possible and therefore they end up falling off the path of their goals. Valued living, on the other hand, doesn’t have an end as such. Each moment can be done in a way that is consistent with values. There is no beginning or end of values, they just are. Losing weight is a goal, and often the goal is a long way off. Living in a healthy and active way is a value. It is something that can be done everyday and throughout the day. There is no quantification on this way of being, it just is. There need not be a judgement on how well one is following ones healthy lifestyle as long as you can say that you are following what you value in this area.
I think it helps to look at children when exploring and following values, particularly on values of activity. Children, especially young children, do not have as much of the awareness of how something should look or the “importance” of this. When they are active, they are just “being” and they are enjoying their body and what it can do. They run fast, they run slow, they hop and skip, they do spontaneous stretches or “yoga” poses. They do not judge how they do it, they just do it. They do not think that they don’t do it well until somebody tells them that. They do not have goals of being better at what they are doing at that moment until someone tells them that they should do it “better” or differently. When most adults are active, they are constantly trying to do it better, or faster, or look better while doing it or doing better then that person. They have a dialogue with themselves while doing. They do not tend to enjoy their body or what it can do. They do not tend to be in awe with what their body is capable of doing. They have lost the playfulness of being. There is always a goal to be met. These goals get in the way of being.
What if being active could be about being in the moment with our body in a non-judgemental way and just exploring what we are capable of and how our body moves. What if we could be ok with what our body does at each moment, without having to compare it to the last moement or the last day or the next day. What if we could continue in this way day after day without expectation. I suspect this would take a lot of pressure off and that each day would not be loaded with so much baggage from the last time our body moved.
I suspect we could also carry this same idea into eating. What if we could explore our food and how we make it and how it tastes.What if eating was more about being aware of different types of food and how they taste or feel or cook. If we could explore new recipes and how they encorporate food and different types of food into them. What if we could be in the moment with our food and our experiences around cooking our food. What if we could be aware of how making something relates to taking care of our selves and our family and nurturing them, instead of not thinking or exploring and instead just eating whatever is easiest. Eating often becomes afterthought and a chore or a way to cover up bad feelings, instead of exploring these feelings.
So instead of treating the idea of eating and activity as things to be valued and enjoyed for their present moment gifts, we treat them as means to looking a certain way. As we treat them in this way, they become tools for a goal that will likely never be reached in the way we think we want to reach it. We also lose the ability to enjoy these things as they become loaded with emotional pain and avoided because of emotional pain.