Wouldn’t it be nice if good intentions were enough to create change? If buying new sneakers would instantly improve your running time, and having a cookbook with healthy recipes on your shelf would be enough to automatically change your eating habits. Even better would be going for one walk and coming home, stepping on the scale and discovering all the weight you wanted to lose was now gone. Instant results would be so gratifying.
The pursuit of instant gratification has led people to make dangerous choices, such as ephedrine diet pills, methamphetamines and opiates, and some choices that seem less dangerous but can leave us addicted such as making sure we always have our cell phones so we are always, always connected, and we can wind up using people for our own pleasure rather than enjoying a relationship in our quest to gratify our wants.
In my quest for a healthier weight and increased stamina to climb a hill on the island of Iona, I hoped for instant results. I expected instant progress to mark on my chart.
It’s been two weeks since I marked my baseline, and here are the results:
WT: ( -1 pound)
WL: (- 1/2″)
It is possible that I actually lost 5 pounds because my scale isn’t high tech and so the number varied depending on where and how I was standing on the scale. It’s also possible that I gained 2 pounds or stayed the same, for the same reason. So I chose the result that seemed most realistic, one pound of weight loss.
My waist line measurement is as scientific as my weight. I’m using the measuring tape I bought for my niece: it’s a cloth owl, you pull its tail and the tape comes out. When I go back to a store I’ll invest in a more sturdy tape.
With such minimal results, it’s tempting to give up. However, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. I have found that doing the MBSR Lying Down Yoga meditation for the last two weeks has increased my flexibility and eased the pain in my right knee, along with improving my mental clarity after I finish my routine.
My eating pattern is changing: I stop eating at certain time, and restart again late in the morning. It’s Intermittent Fasting, sort of. Also, less added sugar, and more protein is reducing my cravings. My goal, along with weight loss, is to “Make My Pancreas Care Again” – a constant influx of sugary food stresses the pancreas and alters the insulin production, so to lower my risk of diabetes, I am eating during a defined time period to MMPCA.
It’s about the process, the measured results are secondary. The numbers are important, but they are not the only measure that matters. Having 389 friends on Facebook is nice, but the number that really matters are the four or five friends that would stop everything and come help if I were in crisis. And some things cannot be measured: cannot be measured: being loved or having someone you love, a sense of purpose, the smell of laundry from the line or accomplishing a personal best.
One of my hobbies is doing cross stitch: it takes me about an hour to do a one inch flower so if I didn’t enjoy the process of stitching working on a large sampler would just be one long exercise in frustration. It’s the same thing for someone who plays the piano and is learning a new piece of music, and a chef working on a complicated recipe. Good results are great, but if doing what needs to be done to get the results makes you miserable, then is it worth it?
So as I pursue my Audacious Goal of going up Dun I, my progress may be slow, with my waistline decreasing in tiny increments, the needle moving down on the scale, and my forehead getting closer to my knees in my yoga pose. But the process yields more results than just the possible lower numbers: being consistent is a good thing in its own right, there are mental health benefits of the yoga and exercise; and I will have increased energy from better eating habits, and freedom of movement from less stress on my joints.
It’s not rapid results for me, but then again I’m not trying to change directions in a speedboat; it’s more like I’m an aircraft carrier trying to turn. So progress may be slow, but the process is its own reward.
Today’s Prayer Poem is by Mary Oliver, “The Real Prayers Are Not the Words, But the Attention that Comes First”
The little hawk leaned sideways and, tilted,
rode the wind. Its eye at this distance looked
like green glass; its feet were the color
of butter. Speed, obviously, was joy. But
then, so was the sudden, slow circle it carved
into the slightly silvery air, and the
squaring of its shoulders, and the pulling into
itself the sharp-edged wings, and the
falling into the grass where it tussled a moment,
like a bundle of brown leaves, and then, again,
lifted itself into the air, that butter-color
clenched in order to hold a small, still
body, and it flew off as my mind sang out oh
all that loose, blue rink of sky, where does
it go to, and why?
+ Mary Oliver