Tuesday, January 6, 2015

More Important Things

Sometimes, especially lately, I get really conflicted about the whole weight loss thing. I think to myself... and it is true... "there are more important things than this stupid DIET." I get sucked into all the other *stuff* in life that is more pressing, more emotional, more urgent or dramatic than the mundane, unimportant choosing of a bowl of carrots for a snack or a bike ride in the afternoon. I think: what does this even matter? The gain or loss of a pound or whether I ate an avocado or some potato chips is *nothing* in the big, grand scheme of things. There are more important things to deal with.

Maybe that doesn't make sense because I don't blog about those more important things. Maybe, because I don't write much about my personal life or the personal lives of those around me, it seems I have a calm and uneventful existence. So quiet. So peaceful. Perfect for focusing on weight loss. But nothing could be further from the truth.

I don't write about everything that happens to me each day. I don't blog about the deepest things on my heart, the things that I think about when I lie in bed late at night, the things that send tears spilling down my cheeks or that weary me. It's not about that, here. Here, it's about the weight, the diet, the exercise. But behind the blog there is a real, complex life that involves many other people. People that I love, people I care for, people I am responsible for. There are things that drain me and of course things that bring me joy. And when there is something big... a death, a medical crisis, a need I have to meet for others... it can become all-encompassing and I set my attention and efforts on those things instead of on my own health and needs. They are bigger... more important... in the moment.

But what I think has finally sunk in this week is what people have been telling me all along: you cannot take care of others if you do not take care of YOU. Put your own air mask on first, they say, and then help the others. I've never done that. And someone in a group I attended this week told me flat out, "you have to turn your focus around, back onto yourself." I objected. Others need me more. There are more important things. How can I take a percentage away from others for ME? And she said, "there are no more important things for you, than your own health and well being. You have to heal yourself to carry others. Taking care of you *first* is the best way to take care of everyone and everything else."

She's right. The more important things are not the small, individual things like making a salad, going to bed earlier, cutting up celery or lifting weights for 15 minutes. The more important things are the *results* of those little mundane things, which together make up my health. My heath truly IS vitally important, not just to me but to everyone around me. And I starting to believe that taking care of me, by doing those small things, is not selfish... but a gift to all of us.


Anonymous said...

I have two thoughts on this.

1. It is because of those "other things" that I've decided that I must keep this weight loss thing simple. I don't count, measure, weigh, recipe. I am cutting out gluten and sugar. I am choosing low carb food. That's it. It's all I can do. More than that is too complicated. More than that makes me walk away with a cookie in my mouth.

2. Hear this in a kind voice. The whole "I can't take time for myself (diet) because I have to put others first and putting myself first is selfish" is a, well, convenient load of crap that we chubbers tell ourselves.

You see, when we get honest, we know perfectly well that eating those chips or that cake IS our way of taking care of ourselves.
Food is our escape hatch, our medicine, our comfort. You now it and I know it.

Every time you and I put something like chips or cookies in our mouths, we are putting OURSELVES first over those we are supposed to be tending to.

I know that sounds harsh, but I'm not feeling harsh. Really. IF we were face to face, you wouldn't hear a harsh voice.

It's simply the truth. Eating the stuff that keeps us fat is putting our felt needs first, disregarding the effect it has on our health and our ability to care for those others. We use unhealthy food to tend our needs--doing otherwise is too hard.

Which, of course, gets me back to my first point.

Your healthy eating plan MUST be simple. When you have crisis in your life, you don't have the energy to be messing around with mind and time consuming eating tasks.

But you do have time to put something in your mouth. Let it be health-giving.

I can recognize the error in your "It's so hard to put myself first" song, because I've sun those same lyrics all of my life. (In fact, I'm up now praying and crying over a family problem as we speak.) We can choose different music.

Make yourself a simple and easy healthy eating plan--and follow it--for them. Ain't nothing selfish about that.

Hugs, Lyn. Do know that I understand and feel compassion for your situation.


Carla Birnberg said...

I announced yesterday I can no longer pour from my EMPTY VESSEL.

Deniz said...

Absolutely! Well said Lyn.

Jeanette said...

I don't know if you read Gwen's (thesunnycoconut.com) or my (wolfforlife.blogspot.com) blog - but we talk about these issues a lot. Blogging about health isn't JUST about diet.. It IS about life. Being physically hearty, healthy, fit, etc has given me the strength to deal with the darkest moments of my life (and, conversely, when I was obese, I could NOT deal with those things, but instead turned to food). I've documented these things for years - my blog doesn't mainly have posts about diet! I would encourage you to blog more thoroughly. Meaning: don't get so narrowly focused! The reason I am passionate about health, in the end, is because life is so big, so worth living, and we need all the advantages we can!

16 blessings'mom said...

Oh Lyn, I wish I had read this post like 20 years ago. I remember thinking that moms who left their kids to go to the gym were just selfish. When I decided a few years back that enough was enough, and I was tired of being a hundred pounds overweight, I had to be selfish a little. Just breaking away from the kids to do a 20 minute work out was hard sometimes, then I would be in there doing my push ups and hear fights breaking out, or they would come in and ask if they could have this or that or they needed a ride somewhere...having kids means going through their heartaches with them, things that the rest of the world doesn't necessarily know about. It is really really hard to even care about nutrition and calories and exercise when other things are so pressing. So thank you once again for the reminder to put those things first, it isn't selfish, it will help me be a better mom, a better friend, in the long run. One little choice at a time...


Jack Sh*t, Gettin Fit said...

Women have choices, men have responsibilities. What does that mean? It means I was watching the movie Parenthood last night. Wasn't that a good movie?

Seriously, it's all a balancing act... life, health, family, responsibility, self-care. We all could do a better job, but ultimately, we gotta do what we gotta do. Here's hoping 2015 brings good health to you and your family and the strength to tackle the challenges in front of you. Take care, Lyn.

Lyn said...

That's a really interesting (and true) way of looking at it, Deb. Thanks for that insight. And yes simplicity is all I can handle right now. So yesterday I chose a walk outside alone (which was very therapeutic) and I also chose NOT to eat several times when I felt the draw. I think I need to make "healing time" for myself to sit and just BE with myself, and to sleep, and to eat nourishing things.

Lyn said...


yes I have read both blogs and you have said it very well! I know you are right... I would be *more able* if I were more fit. There is something truly DISempowering when one responds to stress by eating something you don't even truly want to eat, that isn't good for you. That just makes everything feel worse. Thanks for your perspective.

Lyn said...


I know you understand and have been there! It's good to know I am not alone.

Thanks to all for the support.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lyn, for receiving my comment in the spirit in which t was made. I worried a bit about it. Print can be so harsh.

I just want you to know that I've repeated the point of that comment to myself every time I want to eat something "that will make me feel better" emotionally instead of something that will make me be better physically.

And,YES, healing time is exactly what you need. Do let yourself have that.


Mirror Watching - GinaB said...

Lyn, I love your blog. So honest. The challenges we face are mental and if we can get our mind wrapped around we will be successful but it is a battle for real.

Deb Willbefree, Your number 1 cracked me up. After going through everything, trying things and researching to naturally get 100+ lbs off with 70+ to go I too no longer desire to count calories, measure or way. I have chosen a lean-low carb eating mentality. And you are right anything more than that is too complicated.

Carla Birnburg, I love your annoucement.

JM said...

What deb said, 100%
Self care is not selfish, its selfish NOT to do it!

Amy said...

I totally understand the conflict and I think it is good that you question the importance of what you are doing. I do truly believe that dieting is a great distraction, it is something we choose to obsess about because the real pain that we don't want to examine or share seems too big for our hearts to handle. Taking care of yourself, not just the physical stuff on the outside but also the deep damaged parts inside is way more important than what size jeans someone wears (not that you obsess over this but in general our society does). Treat yourself how you would treat your family.

Joanna said...

I am at the other side of this whole thing. You are young and have kids and a complicated life. I am 63 and I can control my exposure to unhealthy food much more easily. That being said, I don't really get why food was so important to me over the years--junk food eaten in private, junk food conveniently stuffed behind the more socially acceptable food in the pantry. I would often eat heathy during the day and then I would turn to ice cream about 9 pm. I would intend to have a moderately good sized portion of the ice cream and then I would have a second good sized portion. I would look forward to it all day. Then it was hard to convince myself that I should be structured about my eating the next day. I had cancer in 2008 and it was a long course of treatment and I wasn't very hungry through most of it. But once I started feeling better, I made up for the ickiness of chemo, surgery and radiation by eating. I could often (and not so long ago) eat until I was sick. I do know one thing--after being structured in my eating for the last seven months and losing 47 pounds--that weight loss cannot become the total focus of one's life or the stress of always thinking about doing the right thing and the rigidity of it all and the agony of not being perfect is counterproductive. I just have developed inscrutible rules for myself about foods I don't eat. For me, it is sugar, all grains, and fruit. I do write it all down but I don't weigh and measure the food. I don't have stress not eating birthday cake because I don't eat gluten or grains or sugar. So all of a sudden, there is no stress. I found Thanksgiving and Christmas to be rather stress-free and for that I am grateful. I do estimate my calories and use MyFitnessPal, but that would not work for me unless I had reduced my stress about food by just totally cutting out my triggers. You hand in there, ok? You are going to get where you want to be because you are very strong.

Joanna said...

Hang in there. I don't mean hand in there.