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Perhaps arrogantly, I think other people might be interested in my personal weight loss journey – whether it succeeds or fails.

Shouldn’t I delete “or fails”? Shouldn’t I be committed to total success? On the other hand, I’m learning to detach from the outcome. I like this better: set a goal, pursue it wholeheartedly, and detach from whether the effort is successful or not. This adds an ease to the process, a lightness, that for my personality can only help. And I have seen from other parts of my life, and others’ lives, that total commitment coupled with detachment sometimes produces unexpected but always constructive results.

Good writing would include an example here, but I can’t think of any. What I can say is that for me, delighting in a process usually produces an outcome I’m pleased with. Like taking up bicycling for fun, and ending up completing the Death Ride, a 125-mile organised bike ride that starts at 5,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California and rises to 8,000 feet – five times. (I’m also aware that another area for growth is in the setting and attaining of goals – subject of another post.)

Yesterday I told my daughter’s father that one of the best things we could both do for her was to lose weight, not only because of the obvious health benefits, but more importantly, to model for her self discipline and the ability to deal with difficult feelings without overeating. He is a large man anyway, and currently larger than usual. I am  about 30 pounds overweight. I have put on 20 of those pounds in the last 3 years, having been a reasonable weight for the first 47 years of my life.

From my 47 years of maintaining a reasonable weight, I know and trust my body’s wisdom in selecting suitable foods and eating them in appropriate quantities. When I was cycling and cross-country skiing a lot (a LOT), I ate more. When I wasn’t, I naturally ate less, with no effort. So I choose to visualise my current overeating mostly as a habit. I would prefer not to delve into the shelves full of books on why people overeat and what to do about it. I am sure each book works for some people and not others, and at this stage in my life my job is to attune to what is right for me in all my peculiarities.

As always, I have a book to guide me on this journey, Manage Your Mind: the Mental Fitness Guide by Gillian Butler and Tony Hope. Chapter 28 is about breaking habits. I also trust that this book has appeared in my life (from a display in the local library) at this time for good reason. (It also has interesting sections on dealing with anger and time management.)

Chapter 28, then, starts by saying that I won’t break this habit unless I really want to, and asks six questions to help me discover whether I do want to.

  1. Is the habit harmful to me? Yes. Overeating makes me overweight and all the well-known results of that.
  2. Is it dangerous to myself or others? Not immediately, not like smoking in bed.
  3. Is it embarrassing, irritating or upsetting to me? I am faintly embarrassed by being overweight and faintly embarrassed by how much I eat in public.
  4. Is it my problem or someone else’s? It’s my problem.
  5. If I persist in overeating, what are the three worst possible consequences?
    1. Bad health and ultimate death
    2. My daughter getting fat
    3. Being prevented from living a full life, e.g., not having the energy to keep up with my daughter and to enjoy my favourite outdoor activities; possibly reducing my changes of meeting Mr Right
  6. If I break the habit, what are the three more important gains?
    1. Modelling for my daughter how to deal with difficult feelings without overeating
    2. Good health
    3. My daughter’s good health

Questions 5 and 6 make it pretty clear. I have every reason to break the overeating habit. I’m inspired – and apprehensive, because I haven’t looked at the next steps yet, the hard bits, the bits where I have to actually change my behaviour.

What helps you to change your behaviour?