Do you, like me, have shifting relationships with your unwanted extra pounds that are based not at all on what your actual weight or body shape is, but on how your mind has decided to perceive them? For instance, I have noticed that when I am at the beginning of some healthy-eating kick I suddenly start treating my body with a lot more kindness, because I’m newly convinced the rolls and dimples are, like, temporary. It’s like if you’ve ever been stuck talking to someone whose company is unpleasant but once escape is imminent you get a burst of generosity because the keys are jingling and what the hell, why not go in for the goodbye hug.
There’s something similar that happens when I’m in one of those Everything Changes Tomorrow modes (aka Diet Starts on Monday). I haven’t even altered my eating yet — in fact, I’ve probably gone overboard with all the soon-to-be-forbidden foods, because that is a ridiculous thing I tend to do over and over again — but I feel calm and settled about the way I look. Because I have a plan. There are gears that will soon be in motion, so that gives me hope that I will no longer be stuck. The emotional charge drains away, my body becomes mostly neutral rather than roiling with character assassinations.
Kindness, calmness, peace. What a relief is is to feel that way. It would be awfully great if I could find my way to those feelings without subjecting myself to the punishing cycle of restrictions and obsessions, sabotage and failure.
I’ve been using a guided meditation app called Headspace lately. Correction: I’ve been trying to use this meditation app. It doesn’t seem like it should be that hard, since all you have to do is sit for ten minutes while you listen to recordings of a dude with a pleasant accent. I am super good at breathing on command — I have those inhales and exhales down — but the part where I’m supposed to unwind and gently become mindful … not so much.
The first thing that usually happens as soon as I close my eyes and “slowly become aware of my body, scanning it from top to bottom” is that I become plagued by a series of ferocious itches which completely devour my attention until I get relief, so basically that part of the process is as relaxing as contracting scabies. Then I have something like Restless Everywhere Syndrome, where I get an overwhelming urge to move a hand or elbow or foot or nostril and if I try to hold still I become increasingly uncomfortable until I finally just thrash around like a dying salmon for a few seconds which I guess brings a certain sense of awareness but it’s less of raised consciousness and more along the lines of WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL IS MY DAMAGE HEATHER.
At that point the voice is usually saying something soothing about being calmly aware of one’s surroundings and so I become hyper-aware of every sound, which is never, say, the chirping of birds or a peacefully burbling spa fountain, but rather a mounting cacophony of irritations that permeate my earbuds.
Cat, giving herself a bath nearby: Mlem mlem mlem.
Dog, snoring: Snnnnnzzzz. Skkkknnnnnfffff. Nnnnnnffffff.
Children, at the other end of the house: YOU TOUCHED MY DOOMINATOR—
Cat: Mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem mlem.
Children: —BLASTOTRON AND I TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH IT SO NOW I GET TO—
Dog (now dreaming and making little muffled barks): Noop. Woop. MLOOP. MURP! ROOP!
Cat (has hiked a leg in the air and is now focused on her anus): Slep slep slep SLEP. SLLLLEPPP. SHHHHHHHHHHLEP.
Children: NOT PLAYING! NOT PLAYING! STAAAAAHP! MOMMMMMM!
Then there’s a whole stretch of time where the noises do actually recede a bit, because my brain is suddenly super busy thinking about:
• Every stupid thing I’ve ever said ever
• Brad and Angelina: what really went down on that plane?
• That time when I was a kid and I barfed outside of a Toys R Us
• Why are yoga pants all tights now when the bootcut style was so much more flattering?
• Abused dogs
• Pizza for dinner?
• How much I completely suck ass at meditating
By the end of the ten minutes I usually do feel a faint sense of relief and accomplishment, if only because I got through the whole thing without hurling my phone out the window. Small victories = still victories.