So…I’ve had the title of this post in mind for some time. As usual, I’ve had to develop it in my mind before I try to commit it to paper (virtual or otherwise). Also as usual, when I get ready to actually write, the concept morphs somewhat in my mind and it begins going places I hadn’t previously imagined.
Originally, and still, this notion of paying attention to the “aaaah…” had to do with eating. Specifically to this concept I’ve been trying to embrace concerning the difference between eating until you’re not hungry and eating until you’re full. When someone is trying to lose weight, we are often told to eat until we’re not hungry. If we eat until we’re full, we’ve eaten too much. If you have a healthy relationship with food and have never struggled with the need to lose weight, this distinction is probably foreign to you in that you’ve never thought about it. I imagine that you’ve never had to think about it because your body thinks about it for you. What I’ve come to understand from reading and talking to others is that our bodies have cues which are designed to tell us when to stop eating. People who maintain a naturally healthy weight are accustomed to “listening” to those cues and acting accordingly. I am not one of those people.
As I have moved forward with my weight loss, particularly after my surgery, I have begun to notice some of these cues from my own body – for the first time. The most dramatic of these, for me, is a sort of unconscious *sigh* I make when I am eating – when I should be through eating. It seems to be my body’s outward trigger that I’ve had enough. My entire life, I’ve eaten through the signal. Hell, I didn’t even know there WAS a signal. I’ve only noticed it since my surgery because I’ve been able to slow down, pay attention, and because I can eat so much smaller portions. It’s one of those things that, in retrospect, I can remember doing but didn’t even have the presence of mind to recognize. Weird.
Through trial and error, I now know that, regardless of how much I’ve eaten – or how much more I think I need to eat, when I hear myself sigh “aaaah…”, I put down my utensil and push away from the food. If I do not, I am eating more than I need and there will be a consequence in some form – some more quickly than others but all unpleasant.
So that’s the original content of the post. But it doesn’t end there…
I’ve had several things happen recently which make me aware that I exhibit this behaviour in other areas of life. Primarily with people. I have subscribed to the, somewhat misguided, notion that I have to “eat” what’s put in front of me. What do I mean by that? Hm….
It’s actually a rather easy metaphor-and not at all new. We already talk about our lives as our “plates”. If that`s so, then the commitments we make are like the types and portions of food with which we fill our dinner plates. And while it’s important that we make healthy choices – of food and activity – what I am talking about today is quantity, not quality.
I think that’s the transition of my “aaaah…” into other areas of life. We keep adding things on to our schedules and completely ignore those little warning signs that we’re doing too much – or that we’ve ceased to be effective. Or we keep revisiting the same friendships, relationships which have suffered for one reason or another, or which have just become toxic.
Food. Friendship. Life. Seems I keep drawing more and more correlations. I think I have to DO all this stuff because I’ve said I would, because noone else will do it if I don’t, or because I just think I’m needed. For years, I’ve eaten all the stuff I put on my plate because I said I would, so it wouldn’t get wasted, and because it was there. I think I have to maintain relationships because I said I would, because I think I’m needed, and sometimes, because I think no one else will do it.
NONE of these things exhibit healthy behavior! If we see life as a balance among our physical, mental, and spiritual health – allowing these unhealthy actions – and mind sets – threaten our lives in very real ways.
So what’s the lesson? As my son would say “duh. Stop eating so much! Stop saying “yes” when people ask you to do stuff” But, if you are one of the people, like me, who face the challenges I describe – it’s too hard to be that easy >grin<
Most of us have been on every diet, taken a slew of time management courses, and listened to every well-intentioned friend and family member who feels the need to tell us how we should be doing it. None of that has worked or we wouldn’t still be having this conversation.
I think there’s an “aaaaaah” in life like there is in my meals. It’s taken me a long time and some drastic changes to recognize it as a cue for my eating. It`s proving to take even longer to internalize, and consistently act on, the message. Now that I know sort of what I’m looking for, perhaps this cue won’t be so hard to find in the other areas of life. One can hope, at any rate.