Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Diet of Choice

The last thing I need is another blog. I have two of them already, The Buddha Diaries and Accidental Dharma. Not to mention my blog at The Huffington Post. But this one will be a little different. It will require less thought and writing… but more real-life attention. It will be called "A Diet of Choice."

Here’s the thing. I woke up yesterday morning and stepped on the bathroom scale. I was not pleased with what it had to tell me. It’s not that I’m obese, just a few pounds overweight for my age and height, ten pounds maybe. Well, maybe fifteen. And it’s not just what the scale tells me, it’s how I feel. I’m uncomfortable with the extra weight. It weighs on me, like a winter coat. My clothes feel uncomfortable.

I look at others who lack the bulge above the midriff that I have, and I realize that they are healthier than I and, yes, that they do look better. Not that it’s about cultural imperatives or aesthetics. No, it’s truly about how I feel about myself, and about the realization that this is an area in my life where I am still being driven by reactive patterns rather than by consciously-made choices.

I’m reminded of my battle with cigarettes, years ago. I started smoking at the age of thirteen. By the time I was forty, I was hopelessly addicted to the filthy weed. I was all too aware of the consequences to my health, and had plenty of aggravating reminders from my wife and daughter—which made it all the harder to give up: I didn’t want anyone telling me what was good for me and what wasn’t. So I started “trying” to give up.

I tried everything, from will power to nicotine patches to phony cigarettes to… well, everything. Nothing worked. I would manage to “cut down” or even stop altogether for a few days, but then I’d be back again, sneaking cigarettes like a teenager when I thought no one would know and disguising the results with breath mints and mouthwashes. I would stop buying cigarettes—and start bumming them from fellow smokers. I kept telling myself No, no, musn’t, shouldn’t, can’t… And nothing worked.

Nothing worked, until the day a reformed smoker suggested making it a matter of choice. Give yourself permission to smoke, he said. Carry cigarettes wherever you go. Stop saying No and Mustn’t. Try saying, instead, I can, I give myself full permission to light up… but I choose not to. I choose, instead, the positive things: no smelly clothes, going to sleep at night without a pounding heart, walking up a few steps without losing my breath. Perhaps, even, a longer life.

Then it worked. I don’t know about others, but it worked for me.

So I hereby give myself permission to eat and drink as much and as often as I want to, but undertake to be conscious of the choices I make and aware of their consequences. And this will be the place where I hold myself accountable. The blog…

(More about goals and intentions a little later in the week. This is just to get me started.)

I understand that this particular journey might be of little interest to anyone else. In my other blogs, I try to talk about things that will have some meaning and resonance for others. Here, it’s about me. It’s about my choices. It’s also about practice and consciousness. If anyone chooses to check up on me, I welcome their kindness. I’ll welcome their comments and support. If not, not. I choose to check up on myself.

For yesterday, the choices were as follows: multi-vitamins with half a glass of cranberry-apple juice and a small bowl of cereal at 7:30 AM, with half a banana, half a dozen grapes, a scatter of raisins and a little milk—with just a splash of half and half which happened, unusually, to be in the refrigerator. Oh, and I forgot my cup of morning tea. All these were, thus far, my choices.
After gym, at 11AM, I made myself a Canadian bacon sandwich with an English muffin spread with butter. Delicious. And a cup of instant coffee with milk and sweetener. On our return to Los Angeles, I chose to eat a bowl of leftover spicy couscous with chick peas and red peppers, PLUS a small melted cheese tortilla AND half an apple. Too much. More than I needed.

Then, at dinner, a small bowl of Ellie’s delicious home-made squash soup with two crackers and a green salad. And a glass of white wine.

I swear I will not bore readers of The Buddha Diaries with such details again. Those interested are invited to follow me to "A Diet of Choice."


robin andrea said...

Many good wishes to you and your new diet of choice. When I quit smoking cigarettes, I told myself that every smoke was inherent approval of the tobacco industry. Much of the non-nutritional food we consume is a mass-produced mess of barely edible ingredients. If we eat the stuff, we are nodding yes to corporate America. I found if I saw my habits as part of the political machinery, it helped me break them for good. We vote with our lungs, our stomachs, and our hearts.

sglw said...

Good to see you keeping control. When I stopped smoking, I had tried all the choices, patches-classes-etc., I just decide to quit. It worked and I have been an ex-smoker for 10 years.

I understand food choices, but excercise choices are also important for balance. But you are corrrect, it takes a lot of running on the treadmill to burn only 300 calories.

Anonymous said...

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to have significant levels of heavy metals or other contaminants.

thailandchani said...

Since I am constantly struggling with weight, I will definitely be interested in following along.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for the encouragement, all!

Doctor_Eva said...

Do you know how to slenderize in few months and maintain you weight ever since? But I know, how to lose weight!