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Monday, 20 September 2021 11:11

Let the Fun Begin!

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Oh please! Really? (I can see your eyes rolling at me.) Dieting, exercise, weight management – fun? Am I out of my mind?

Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m out of my mind! I’m purposely changing my mind about how hard it is to lose/gain weight. I’m changing my mind about any negative feelings I have about exercise. I’m out of my former mind and into a new one!

That’s the great thing about being human and about having a mind – we get to change it. We get to choose what to think. We get to choose our attitude. We get to choose how to approach our life, our day, our projects, and our bodies.

And I purposely say we get to choose because it’s not just a matter of whether we can choose or not. It’s obvious that we can choose, but not as obvious that the act of choosing is, in itself, an awesome quality of being a person. We have the great honor and privilege of being able to make choices for ourselves in every aspect of our lives. No matter whether we’re living wild and free out in the wilderness or locked inside a prison cell, whether we’re self-employed or working a for an employer, we have the ability and, in my mind, the honor to choose what we think, how we respond, and what attitude we’re going to take.

So, I choose an attitude of fun when it comes to managing my weight! I refuse to accept that losing or gaining weight is hard work, that I just have to power through it, and that it’s going to be a tough road and take a long time. Baloney! I choose to find every little ounce of joy available to me when I think about my body and about changing my body size and weight. I even get to choose when to make changes to my body. If now is not the right time, I’m good with that and I’ll still choose to have fun right now and have fun later when I do choose to change. The bottom line is, if I’m not having fun, I’m not going to make the changes I want to make. And if I am having fun, it won’t feel like work and it won’t feel like it’s taking a long time to happen.

Now that we’ve chosen an attitude of fun, we want to turn that into practical behavior that supports us and increases the amount of joy in our lives. The first step to doing that is to do what we love. I’m going to address this in two different ways – eating activities and non-eating activities.

First, I’ll talk about non-eating activities because they are the most important. The more time we spend doing what we love, the more our whole lives come into balance, and that includes our digestion, our health, and our body size. When we spend more time losing ourselves in the activities that we find joyful, stimulating, freeing and exciting, the more we spark our bodies to come fully alive. I’m sure there’s science behind these statements because I’ve read some of it. But there is experience behind these statements, too.

Each of us has something we love to do, but sometimes we forget what that is. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves what it is that fully engages us and brings every cell in our bodies alive. I am not just a writer, I love to read! The other day I suddenly noticed that it’s been ages since I lost myself in good book. When I opened up my Kindle library, there were 2 books in it that I had downloaded but never actually read. Giving myself the time to read those books over the next couple of days was delightful! I felt that well-practiced and well-loved experience of losing myself in the story and getting involved in the characters’ lives.

It wasn’t just that reading the books helped me escape from my everyday world. As I was getting involved and invested in the story - in another world, another experience, and another viewpoint - the feelings that came up for me lasted throughout the day and carried into my regular routines. Everything I did during the day seemed a little sharper and more alive because I carried the story with me.

Doing what we love has that effect on our routines. We carry the thoughts, feelings and sensations of our joyful activity within us and it lights up the rest of our life. Reading is just one of the things I love to do. Maybe you play an instrument, or you love to be out in nature. Maybe your activity is something you do alone or maybe it’s an activity you do with other people. Maybe it’s something that is free or maybe it costs money. Whatever you love to do, do it more often than you usually do. Make time for it and become fully engaged in it. Make it a regular part of your life. The more often you do it, the more time you spend immersed in feeling the joy of that activity, the more you’ll find the rest of your everyday activities feeling easier and more interesting.

Now, the eating activities. Whether we’re overweight and want to lose, or underweight and want to gain, everything about eating seems to be a challenge. We’re used to thinking about changing our eating habits as hard work, usually a losing battle, and no fun. What if we changed our minds about that?

We could decide that managing our meals is just one more daily activity like doing the dishes. Not hard, not easy, just a daily routine. Those of us who are overweight love to eat! We have strong feelings about the foods we LOVE!! Those who are underweight don’t like to eat. I’ve heard them say they just CAN’T eat as much as their doctor recommends. Either way, there are some strong feelings around food.

What if we decided to tone down the drama and the emotions we have around food? Those emotions really are a choice, and we do have the ability to choose differently. Food is food. Naturally, each of us like some foods better than others. However, it’s a fact that we all need to eat in order to stay alive. So, eating is a natural function of our lives. It’s not entertainment and it’s not punishment. Food is not something to love or to hate. It serves the same function as the air we breathe and the water we drink.

When we choose to think about food as part of the natural order of our lives, it becomes less of a challenge. We don’t have to feel deprived of some foods or some amount of food if all we’re doing is maintaining our own life. We don’t have to feel challenged to eat enough food if we all we’re doing is maintaining our bodies.

It begins with a conscious choice to think about food as a natural and neutral activity in our day. Doing the non-eating activities we truly love helps us reinforce the idea that eating is just maintenance and not an emotional challenge.

We could also decide to be playful and inventive with our food activities. If you cook you might try to find creative ways to make your meals more interesting. Do you love Mexican food? How can you incorporate Mexican spices and ingredients in the meals you prepare? Maybe you don’t cook at all. How can you choose prepared foods and restaurant menu choices that fit in with your food plan and, at the same time, delight your taste buds?

Removing the emotion from our thoughts about weight management doesn’t mean our lives, our food, and our exercise plans have to be boring! We can still be creative and tap into the joy that is all around us and always available. We can choose to have fun in every aspect of our lives.

Let the fun begin!

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Betty Brink

Betty Brink is an expert on the mental and emotional aspects of dieting and body image. She is the author of "The Main Meal: The New Perspective on Weight Loss." In seminars, speeches, and consultations, she demonstrates practical methods to quiet the diet chatter, and to empower yourself to make conscious choices in diet, in life, and in relationships.

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