I don’t know much about being skinny, but I know a few things about not being fat.
By “not fat”, I mean staying at a weight that feels reasonable for me and that I can sustain without a lot of drama.
As a former over-weight kid who hated running and loved mac n’ cheese, and as an adult who still hates running and loves mac n’ cheese, I am well schooled on all the implications of this issue.
I work hard these days to stay on the not-fat end of the spectrum, because I know, from having experienced life on both sides, that things are a lot better over here.
Based on recent data, this is a sweet spot that is eludes a huge number of Americans.
Why does it matter?
According to Buddhists, the physical and the spiritual are considered one. Thus, if the body is unhealthy, it has consequences for the spirit and vice versa.
Here are the common sense tactics I use so my body can best serve my soul, and my soul can be at ease in my body.
1. I move every day.
Not most days, every day.
I used to try and weasel out of it; I was too tired, too broke for a gym membership, too busy, I just didn’t feel like it.
But then I realized that our bodies were designed to move, and if they don’t, nothing works properly. Often, all I do is walk for an hour. It’s amazing how great it makes me feel every time.
2. I avoid processed food.
The “diet” foods I used to eat, like Lean Cuisines, or Nutri System and “health foods” like Power Bars and MetRX protein powder are a scam. They are not food, they are a bunch of chemicals, dyes and genetically modified crap that has no business being in the trash, much less our bodies.
Now I eat whole, mostly plant based food. (My diet has been directly influenced by the work of Michael Pollan; to learn more, click here.) The closer it is to it’s original form, the better.
I also look for minimal packaging and ingredients. Things with one ingredient rule. Examples are; bananas, spinach, avocado, nuts, beans, olive oil, rice.
3. I sleep.
I don’t know what the exact physiological reason for this is, but I know when I don’t sleep well I crave crap. When I do sleep well, I get up and have a green smoothie and eat good food throughout the day. I don’t always have an ideal slumber, but I give myself a fighting chance by going to bed at the same time every night, turning off my gadgets, and moving my body during the day.
I’m also a big fan of naps, and highly recommend making them a regular pastime if you can.
4. I try to be nice to myself.
If I go around saying mean stuff to myself all the time, I’m going to have to eat cake. That’s just the way it works.
So I try and say nice things:
“You are cute.”
“That potato kale soup you made rocked.”
“I like the color shirt you’re wearing.”
“You raised good kids.”
You know, things I might say to my best friend.
It doesn’t take super power, super discipline, or super deprivation to not be fat.
Yes, it’s hard sometimes.
The drug pushers who sell us food tap into our primal urges shamelessly to profit from our weakness. Sometimes they win and I eat a giant bag of Lay’s potato chips—but then I just get up, dust off the crumbs, and try again.
Being not-fat hasn’t solved all my problems. In fact, I’d say I have just about the same number of them as if I were still fat. But I think my ability to deal with them is greater and I know I can breathe more deeply.
By maintaining my health in a reasonable, non-punitive way, I am doing my best to honor myself—and that’s the real reward. Those who are honored and cared for have the optimal chance to bloom, and I am waiting with great anticipation to see the color of my secret petals.
Want 15 free additional reads weekly, just our best?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: healthiermi via flickr