I have never been very good with numbers, as my grades in math throughout my school years will show. I consider being able to balance my checkbook each month something to be celebrated, and my colleagues can attest to the immense feelings of pride and astonishment when I successfully tackle budget and statistical information, as I excitedly will proclaim, “I just did math!” There is one particular numerical sequence, though, that I dread more than any other and that I allow to have way too much power over my sense of self-worth-the number on my bathroom scale.
This afternoon, despite still recovering from the flu and an acute upper respiratory infection, I had to venture out to pick my two daughters up from school, so, I mustered up enough energy to shower and get dressed. I was feeling proud of myself for tackling this task, right up until the point I put on my jeans. When they fit snugger than usual, I stood in the middle of my bedroom in stunned silence, awash in frustration and embarrassment. My silence gave way to a few choice curse words and angry tears when I stepped on the scale and saw the evidence before me. I have gained weight over the past few months, and while I would not be classified as overweight per se, I am at a weight that is higher than is comfortable for me. As I asked myself how I could have allowed my weight to creep up unnoticed, my mind flashed back to episodes of stress eating, missed workouts, being physically incapable of exercising due to illnesses, and mindlessly eating on the go. Mystery solved!
So, this moment of truth unleashed a torrent of negative thoughts and feelings, making me feel worse about myself. A few hours later, when I returned to the safe confines of my home, I found myself dwelling on the fact that I do not look and feel as good as I want to, and then, I got angry. Really angry.
As I could feel my anger bubble up to the surface, I was able to identify that I was upset about my current weight and about the fact that I was upset about being upset. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have the ability to get angry for feeling angry. As irrational as that may sound, because it is actually, it ended up being a positive thing, for out of that anger, I found myself countering all of the harsh words I silently screamed at myself with positive statements defending my body. To my silent internal jury, I put forth the following evidence to support all of the amazing things my body has done, and continues to do, for me:
- Every day, my heart pumps blood throughout my body, my lungs expand and contract to help me breathe easily, my eyes see the world before me, my ears hear the sounds around me, my arms and legs keep me mobile, my brain generates thoughts, ideas, and memories, and countless other miracles of life that I so often overlook.
- Every day, my body adeptly manages my ulcerative colitis and keeps it in remission more often than not.
- Every day, for the last seven years, my body has remained free of cancerous cells that were found in my cervix.
- Every day, for nearly fourteen years, when I look at my oldest daughter, I am reminded that my body endured five years of arduous infertility treatment to help me to conceive and carry her.
- Every day, both of my daughters remind me how my body did an incredible job bringing them into the world, albeit prematurely.
- Every day, my body and all of its systems and parts work together to take care of me, which enables me to care for those around me and to pursue my goals and dreams.
As I both presented and examined the evidence at hand, the negative emotions subsided, and clearer, more positive thoughts emerged. When I focused on how hard my body works for me, I realized that like any healthy relationship, I needed to reciprocate its kindness. M body had not failed me; I had failed it by falling back on unhealthy habits, in a misguided attempt to find comfort during difficult periods. Instead of looking at the number on the scale today being a final representation of my health and appearance, I looked at it as an invitation to return to the kinder, gentler habits that nurture and strengthen my body-mind connection . Some of the things that keep my body and mind happy and healthy include:
- Exercising at least 30 minutes/day.
- Meditating at least 10 minutes/day.
- Choosing delicious, healthy foods and drinks and taking the time to sit down at the table to appreciate and enjoy them.
- Staying hydrated.
- Getting adequate amounts of rest and sleep.
- Speaking positively to myself.
- Laughing . . .a lot!
- Talking and writing about my feelings, instead of eating them.
I have called a truce with my scale, and my body and mind are once again at peace. The journey continues.
Just one thing each day . . .