Does losing weight represent an appetizer, side dish, entree, or dessert for you right now? In other words, how important is weight loss to you right now in your life? Is it something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, maybe you stepped away from it for a while, and you want to give it a try again? Is there a driving need inside you to lose weight now for some health or life purpose? Is it something you’ve been putting off while you worked on other goals, and doing it now would be the icing on the cake for you?
Regardless of our answers to these questions, we want to be mindful of the amount of energy and time we dedicate to weight loss. Doing one thing to the exclusion of all others has consequences, and when we are talking about our lives and our happiness, those consequences are important. For example, we don’t want to sacrifice our friends or family to our crusade to lose weight. We don’t want a low self-esteem due to body image to impede our career. Most of all, we don’t want to sacrifice any amount of joy to the process of becoming the size and shape we desire to be. A menu of desserts only sounds tempting, but if that’s all you eat every day, your whole system will be out of balance in a short period of time.
Last week we talked about some of the things that make up the Main Meal of our lives, such as career, family, recreation, service, spirituality, and exercise. Imagine each of those as a menu item you load onto your plate. Then imagine you have put a stick into that plate from below through a hole in the very center of the plate. You can easily balance that plate from the middle and spine it smoothly around. Can you see that putting more weight on one item or another will have the plate wobbling instead of spinning smoothly in balance? Have you ever felt you don’t have enough time for some things in your life because you are putting so much energy into just one activity? Whether that one activity is weight, work, family, or something else our lives wobble, unable to spin smoothly. We want to plan our menu, which includes the energy we give to each activity of our lives, so that it is balanced perfectly.
So, how can we take the principles and practices from the Main Meal Weight Management Support and apply them to all aspects of our lives? How can we maintain balance and increase our joy? We may feel locked into some aspects of our lives, but ultimately, don’t we have the choice of what kind of work we do, where we live, who we live with, what we believe, what we do for fun and relaxation?
What part of your life do you feel locked into? What do you feel like you have no choice about? Think about the different parts of your life now. Some suggestions of things to include are work/retirement, recreation, family, friends, finances, etc. Make a list of them if that helps you but be sure they are things you give your energy to or that you wish you would give more energy to than you do currently. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I happy with this aspect of my life?
2. How much time and energy do I give to this?
3. What would I change about this aspect of my life?
4. What choices do I have? If the sky were the limit, how many choices could I imagine for myself where this is concerned?
5. How might my life change if this aspect of my life were in balance?
Play devil’s advocate with each of the answers to open up the possibility that life could be another way than it is, acknowledging that the choices to make those changes could be disruptive. Some are bigger than others, in that they may be fundamental to how you live your life and interact with those close to you. The point of this exercise is not that you have to make huge changes. The point is to expand your ideas and your way of thinking about your life. This exercise is all on paper. You don’t have to do anything with these ideas unless you want to.
When we play the mental game of thinking about our options, we are able to more clearly see what choices we are currently making to live life just the way it is and to honor those choices. Every time we say, “I can’t do that because…” it’s the “because” that you want to honor and acknowledge as the choice you are making now. That’s a menu item that’s not negotiable. That choice gives you enough joy not to change it.
We take ownership of planning the menu of our lives more joyfully when we make conscious choices. When we have examined those choices and we feel good about them, then we have a balanced Main Meal menu. If we really can’t justify the choices in our own minds, then maybe it’s time to switch something out on the menu. Substitute a different item or use different spices on a current menu item. We’ll displease some of our customers (friends, family, co-workers) because they liked that item and how it fit into their lives. But ultimately, as the head chef, we have more joy in presenting the menu that resonates with us.
When we are ‘cooking’ with love and joy, other people notice. They want to be around us to soak up some of our radiant energy. We become the neighborhood favorite! When our menu is balanced, when we are happy with our choices, that plate spins like a top!