Self-portrait, January 2012
So, I mentioned in a previous post that once I asked God to teach me how he wants me to view my body, he began to answer my prayer.
I shouldn't have been surprised by that, but I was.
And the first two times it happened, I laughed out loud.
(As you know, the third time it happened, I apologized to my body for the first time in my life.)
Here's how God got my attention the first time: through my work.
You may or may not know that in my paid working life, I'm a freelance book editor. This means that a variety of different book publishers contact me when they have a manuscript that needs copyediting or a book that needs proofing just before it uploads to the printer.
(Sidenote: I absolutely love that my professional history over the last 12 years now affords me the opportunity to work from home on projects like this. Every book is different from the next, and I always learn so much from each one.)
The nature of being a freelancer is that I don't often have a lot of context for the books I'm going to edit until they reach my inbox. But shortly after I prayed that prayer -- it may even have been the very next project sent my way -- I received a health book to edit.
That's right: a health book.
So I laughed.
And then I paid attention.
One little gem in particular jumped off the page of that book and lodged itself in my being, and that was this: to write down, with pen and paper, my personal commitment to my health journey -- and to specifically detail what that commitment would look and what I would gain from adhering to it.
So I cracked open my brand-new 2012 planner, which I'd just purchased, and turned to the very last page. And I wrote the following:
GOAL FOR 2012: HEALTH
I want to lose 25 pounds so that I can feel comfortable in my clothes, feel comfortable in my body, feel attractive to Kirk, feel strong, and not have to expend mental or emotional or physical energy worrying about how I look.
In writing this, I realized something I'd never realized before: I spend a lot of time and energy thinking and feeling things related to my body.
Every day when I get dressed, I'm aware that my body is not what I want it to be. Every time I look in my closet, I'm aware of the clothes I can no longer wear. Every Sunday morning, I'm reminded how few Sunday dress clothes fit me anymore. Every day when I leave the house, I'm aware I don't feel attractive. Every time I pass a mirror, I'm aware of every shape and contour of my body visible to me.
And that's just for starters.
So the next thing I did was get specific with a plan.
My primary intent for the plan was this:
Be realistic and gentle.
I wasn't interested in going from zero to sixty in three seconds flat. I was interested in gentle changes that I would realistically incorporate into my life.
Things like choose water instead of soda. Or eat a piece of fruit at least once a day. Or take myself out on a photo walk three times a week for 30 minutes. (Photography has become such a nurturing and integrated part of my life these last six months, I figured that a creative photo walk was one gentle way I could motivate myself out of the house to walk a few times per week.)
I set very gentle goals for the first four months of this year, then broke the rest of the year into two more sections and slowly graduated my commitments -- with one caveat:
Only hold myself to the graduated commitment if the previous commitment has become a normal part of my daily life by that point.
A current favorite:
Just add ice!
So far this year, things have really improved on the consumable goods front. I haven't had soda all year! And I've eaten at least one fruit per day this month, if not more. I'm in the habit of eating oatmeal for breakfast and usually a snack of string cheese or almonds or apple slices with peanut butter or a fruit smoothie at some point during the day.
But the photo walks have been slower to come along. So far this year, I've only taken one walk.
It's feeling really good to feed my body better food. I like asking myself each day, "Did you eat your one fruit?" and smiling when I notice that I already did. I like that my normal snack foods are sources of better nutrients for me. I like that all of this is becoming habit.
Slowly, slowly, treating my body well is becoming something I choose -- gladly -- to do.