Weight Watchers

There is no failure

At the beginning of this week two of my roommates from college were in town visiting. It was the first time we’d all been together since my wedding in June. It was wonderful to see them and so strange to realize that we’ve been out of school for almost a year and how quickly that’s gone. It’s strange to think that our college experience is over and all we have left are the memories.

For the most part I had a wonderful college experience–I made lifetime friends, I learned so much academically, socially, and spiritually, I met my husband, and I learned how to drive in the snow. But what I found myself thinking about as we reminisced were the things I wish I’d done differently. The things that, if given the chance, I would do over.

During a significant portion of my jr. year I was pretty severely depressed. There was family drama happening at home, two of my roommates (the same two who were visiting this week) were studying abroad half of the year and the resulting living situation was tense and stressful. I was terribly lonely and felt that I had few friends which made me put a tremendous amount of pressure on Jonathan to be available to me anytime I wanted him. And on top of all of this, a friend of both of ours made some choices that we couldn’t understand and for which I judged him severely. For some reason, although his choices didn’t directly involve me, I took his actions as a personal offense. I handled the situation so poorly that I lost that friend and hurt someone else in the process. There are times even now that I cannot believe Jonathan still chose to marry me after seeing that.

When I reflected on these things that I wish had been different I realized that even if I were able to go back, there was very little I could have changed about the situations themselves. What I would have changed is how I responded to them. I would have stopped myself from taking responsibility for things that weren’t my responsibility (the family drama, whether or not my roommates were getting along, whether I thought my friend was making the right choice.) And then I realized that while I regret some things about that time in my life, without it I might not have changed. With it, I have the hope that in the present and in the future I will handle myself differently.

At Weight Watchers they say, “There is no failure. Only feedback.” What they mean by that is that if you have a week where you don’t make the healthiest choices, and the result is that you gain weight, you shouldn’t see the gain as a failure. Instead, it’s your body’s natural feedback to the choices you made and that feedback tells you that if this isn’t the result you want, you should make a different choice. I think in many ways the rest of life works that way too. While it does us no good to live in the past or to dwell on our mistakes, I think much of our success and growth in the future depends on our past.

I look back on that year, and on other situations over the past few years and see things that I wish I’d done differently and I am faced with a choice. I can either live a life filled with regret (and trust me, this is easy for me to do. I am the queen of beating myself up over things) or I can look at things I wish I’d done differently and do them differently. Now and in the future.

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Weight Watching

Last Tuesday I joined Weight Watchers. Things have gotten out of hand (and by “things” I mean, me). Just promising myself I’d eat better wasn’t cutting it. Throwing in some exercise wasn’t cutting it. I needed a plan and I needed to be held accountable. I’ll admit, I felt very self-conscious when I walked through the door. I was thinking to myself, ” People who go to weight watchers are in their 50’s and are obese. I am going to feel so out of place.” I felt pretty uncomfortable doing it, but I opened the door and went in and launched myself into a new lifestyle.

I know I set this up to sound like I was completely wrong about Weight Watchers being the hangout of women of a certain age and a certain build. Actually, I was pretty spot-on. I attended my first meeting and of the more than 50 women present I was one of about 10 who looked younger than 40 and one of about 4 who looked younger than 30.  What did surprise me was how much I enjoyed the meeting in spite of that. It was such a non-judgmental environment. No one cared that I’ve gone up three pants sizes in the last 8 months, not did anyone look at me and say, “Oh, you’re so young and skinny, you don’t need to be here!” (which sounds like a nice thing to say, but can be very frustrating when your good enough at excusing yourself without someone else’s help.) They accepted that I was one of them, a woman seeking to take care of her body and live and healthy lifestyle, and for that I was embraced.

I am a week into this journey and have done well so far, largely due to a book I read over the past week. It’s called Made to Crave and deals with developing and sustaining the godly desire to be healthy and to keep food in it’s proper place in our lives. The author talks about using the apostle Paul’s words, “Everything is permissable for me, but not everything is beneficial,” as a guide and I can honestly say that I find it very helpful. I am often tempted (about food or anything else I know I shouldn’t do)  to feel that it’s just not fair that I can’t just have or do what I want, but this verse really changes my perspective. No one’s restricting me. I’m allowed to eat whatever I want. I am just making a choice that’s more beneficial. I think my mother would say that is called maturity. Ha.

I have come to realize that one of the reasons I’ve been struggling so much in this area over the past few months has to do with my adjustment to marriage. I have an overwhelming desire to be an amazing wife. I don’t just want to be good and loving, I want my husband to feel love oozing out of every piece of housework I do and every meal I cook. I deeply desire for my husband to think I am the best cook, the best homemaker, the best lover, the best friend, etc he could ever have imagined. The truth is…I am just me…and my husband already thinks all of these things are true. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling like I have to earn them sometimes. Consequently, I put a lot of pressure on myself most nights to create either elaborate meals, or at least meals that I know my husband really enjoys. The problem is, my husband’s favorite foods are delicious, but also tend to be pretty unhealthy. Even though I know intellectually it is better for both of us if I don’t make fettucine alfredo and stuffed potato skins every night, I so crave his praise that I had been unable to make a change.

One afternoon last week as I left work Sami called after me, “Goodbye, Lily! And you be good to Jonathan!” She cracks me up. I thought, “Of course I’ll be good to Jonathan. Goofball. I try all the time to be good to Jonathan.” Today I am thinking, maybe actually being good to Jonathan means not always doing the thing that will earn me the most praise. Maybe it means doing the thing that will truly be best for him and for myself, even if it doesn’t make him jump for joy. It amazes me how often I do things out of selfishness, even when I think my motives are completely other-centered.

So…here’s a new chapter in my life. A journey towards a healthier life, for my body and for my spirit.