Help! My Body has
become an Alien!

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October 2011

Last month I was in the Algarve for a few days with relatives. Since I had gone with the intention of doing nothing much whilst there except maybe planning things (such as this newsletter), I didn't take many clothes as I didn't intend dressing up for anything. I tend to wash as I go so one change of clothing is more or less all I need for a break of only a few days as things dry overnight. Therefore, apart from what I actually stood up in, I threw a spare t-shirt, underwear and a skirt into the suitcase, along with some knitting and a swimsuit, and off I went.

town square in the Algarve

The second day it was much warmer than I'd expected for October so I decided to wear the long skirt. This was a skirt I'd had for several years which only tended to get worn on holiday. Even so it had always fitted me easily with room to spare. Not any more! I couldn't get it on, let alone stand any chance whatsoever of doing it up! It wasn't just tight... it was impossible!

For a moment I felt panic. Keeping control of my weight is something I've consciously done since my early teens. As a child I was the tubby one and I hated it so once I reached my teens I became careful what I ate so as to keep my weight constant. This is something I've always managed to do. I have followed various diets from time to time, some more successful than others. But in the main I've relied on eating sensibly and not allowing myself too many bars of chocolate or tubs of ice cream - both of which I love. There have been times when my weight has crept up but, because I always refuse to buy clothes in a bigger size, it has had to creep right back down again.

I think my recent downfall came about because I had stopped wearing jeans about the house and had been wearing joggers or other trousers which were fitted much more loosely. The weight sneaked on largely unnoticed. I knew I'd put some on... BUT NOT THAT MUCH!

Having kept it under control all those years, I now felt the body I was inhabiting was no longer mine but some strange alien. That made me feel totally out-of-control and almost unreal. I asked myself instead what I was going to do about it.

There is a saying in Buddhism that when the time is right a teacher will appear. A close friend of mine had recently being dieting for a forthcoming wedding. The diet worked extremely well and she was able to stick to it. Strangely I had borrowed the book about the diet and had brought it with me to read on this holiday because I was aware that I'd put on several pounds and I had been planning to lose them... sometime soon...   That morning I read the book from cover to cover.

I know I need a particular sort of diet - one that has a few simple rules. I could never do calorie counting or points as both are far too complicated. I don't want to make any diet the centre of my universe. It has to fit me psychologically in that it has to include the sort of things I'm happy to eat longer term, things that are very basic and simple to prepare, and a fairly rapid weight loss at the start to encourage me. The one in the book appeared to do all this. It looked very similar in many ways to another I successfully followed about twelve years previously (I don't go on diets very often) but even simpler. 

I started the diet the day after I got back home and I have stuck to it. I don't know how much weight I've lost because I never weigh myself. I judge success by how well my clothes fit. I'll keep going a bit longer but I already allow myself one day per week of normal eating. I feel like me again and more confident.  

Each time we succeed at achieving something for ourselves, we feel an increase in confidence because we feel in control. This feeling is something you can only achieve for yourself, nobody else can ever do it for you because the only person who truly has the power to influence what you actually do and think is... YOU!  

I tell this story to highlight the importance of motivation. When it comes to controlling our own minds and bodies we each need our own motivation to do it. I knew for months I'd been putting on weight but for some reason the attraction of the chocolate and other goodies I'd been eating was greater than my desire to be slimmer - until the morning I tried on that skirt.

barge in the mist

If you think that you want to achieve something but for some reason you can't seem to get down to it, ask yourself whether you truly want it at this point in time. This is the COMMITMENT part of ACT. If the commitment isn't there you may as well ACCEPT what is and focus your energies elsewhere.

All too often we whinge to others that we just can't seem to do whatever it is as if others can do something to change things for us somehow by magic. That's the response we adopted as small children when we went to our mothers or others to sort things out for us. When you're a grown-up nobody but you can really do it for you. Others can only advise. We each need to front up to what we think we want and either go for it or forget it.

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