Black Cat

Going not gentle into that middle age.

The Weight

Filed under: Mind/Body — 25 August 2006 @ 4:06 pm

I hear many people talk about their battles with body fat as if an unpleasant guest has moved in and won’t move out. Or they’ve gotten rid of it and they’re hoping it won’t come back. This guest is known as “the weight”.

“When I get the weight off…”

“I’ve kept the weight off for six months.”

“Nothing I do gets rid of the weight.”

The only way that we as minds and personalities can exist is in living bodies. Bodies are made largely of water, muscle, fat, bone, and lots of other things in smaller quantities. All the components work together to make a living body. There aren’t any separate parts that can exist apart from the whole.

To me, “the weight” is what I weigh. Probably in the neighborhood of 60 or 65 kilos or so at the moment. I don’t know exactly how much I weigh, because I don’t have a scale, I don’t weigh myself when I encounter a scale, and I prefer to evaluate my health by how my clothes fit and how much energy and strength I have rather than by a number on the scale. If I feel that the fat vs muscle ratio is unbalanced in my body, as it is now, then I can take steps to correct that imbalance. There is no unwanted guest who moved into my house. It’s all Me.

If I keep referring to “the weight” as if it were an unwanted guest, a separate part of Me, it’s too easy to see it as an opponent to be battled. It’s not. I weigh what I weigh because I have eaten a certain diet (nutrients and calories) balanced by a certain amount of exercise. If I wish to change the balance of fat vs muscle in my body I have to change the balance of diet (calories in) vs exercise (calories out).

Some of my friends have been battling the same two pounds/kilos for years. Others are battling larger opponents in the form of much larger bodies than they would like, and cannot quite understand how the opponent sneaked back into their lives after their last successful vanquishing of “the weight”. In the case of an imaginary opponent like “the weight”, the entire issue of balancing calories with exercise becomes an emotional battle. It is no longer possible to calmly see that eating smaller portions and walking more often will be the start of changing the balance of calories in vs calories out.

A diet is what one eats on a daily basis. “Going on a diet” means girding oneself to battle the opponent. One goes into battle armed with alternating feelings of resolve and resentment. When resolve is high, one battles temptation and eats a diet that one is not accustomed to. When resentment is high, one battles the feeling of deprivation. One follows the dietary advice of gurus as a weapon to fend off the evil opponent and vanquish “the weight”. If one succeeds in getting rid of “the weight”, one feels relief and pride and excitement. If one gives up trying to get rid of the unwanted guest, one feels frustration and self-disgust and anger, giving power to an opponent that doesn’t exist. As long as one views a portion of oneself as “the weight”, the imaginary opponent and all those emotions get in the way of making any long-term changes in one’s diet (“what one eats on a daily basis”) or activity level.

My body houses and supports my mind and personality. Together we make up Me. I’ll probably last longer on this planet if my diet is a healthy one with a reasonable amount of calories, and my activity level is enough to keep my muscles and joints happy. But if I feel that I’ve slipped into some unhealthy habits of eating too many calories and spending too much time on sedentary activities, I can make changes. Changing habits is hard enough without the emotional baggage of trying to figure out how to rid myself of the unwanted fat guest or battling a portion of my body that isn’t a separate opponent. “The weight” is not an unwanted body part or an opponent I am continually battling. It’s Me. When I make peace with Me, I can make peaceful changes.

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  1. mikimomo:

    Black Cat,

    I very much like this take on “weight.”

    What particularly sings to me is, “My body houses and supports my mind and personality.” This is a great reminder to me that YES, my body is my house, my “home.” Both my home (as in the building structure I live in) and my body very much reflect Me … at this particular moment, neither are particularly orderly, and they’re a little raggedy around the ended, but they do reflect ME.

  2. PJ:

    Isn’t it interesting that, when our bodies do exactly what they’re so miraculously designed to do, we blame our bodies and ourselves? Our wonderful, perfect, deliciously responsive bodies are made to store extra calories so that we can be fed from within during lean times. Your posting reminds me to look down at all that energy lovingly and efficiently stored for future use, and celebrate! What a healthy, practical, responsive body I have! And to recommit to give it something different to respond to…

    With deep love,

  3. Rhea:

    I am familiar with that battle and I am not even overweight!

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