Winter weather seems to drag on into spring in Seattle. So when the sun finally came out, my husband and I jumped at the chance to take a walk at a nearby park. There are old railroad tracks that border the park. And with the giddiness of children, we decided to try walking on the rails.
At first, I walked along balancing on one rail and my husband walked along the other. Then, after a few steps, he wanted to test out a theory. He had heard that it was easier to walk along railroad tracks if we touched hands. Apparently, by holding hands, we would be helping each other keep our balance as we walked forward.
It worked! It was, indeed, easier to balance. And then he let go of my hand and stepped off his rail. And then, just as suddenly, an involuntary response came out of my mouth. “But wait! I’m still having fun!”
So he took my hand and jumped up back on his rail. And after about 30 feet, another involuntary statement came out of my mouth. “Ok, it’s not fun anymore.” And we both stepped off the railroad tracks back onto to the walking trail.
When we are fully connected to the present moment, we can completely connect with ourselves. And when we are completely connected with ourselves, we know whether something brings us joy or pain.
This is an important point for those who struggle with body image, self-esteem or weight issues. We live in a marketing and media driven culture that bombards us with headlines, sound bites and “swapportunities” to win the battle of the bulge. And this onslaught for our attention disconnects us from ourselves and from our bodies.
However, when we’re connected to our body – and motivated by the desire to feel good – we can eat whatever we want. We can’t possibly eat too many cookies! A sugar overload just doesn’t feel good. In truth, it physically hurts. We can’t possibly over eat! Being too full doesn’t feel good. It physically hurts. And surprisingly, we cannot not eat our vegetables. For denying our body certain nutrients just doesn’t feel good. It physically hurts.
The same is true for exercise. When we are connected to our body – and motivated by the desire to feel good – we can’t possibly lie around on the couch all day. We get restless because our bodies want to move. Movement is an essential part of the physical experience, but exercise has nothing at all to do with burning calories or losing weight! In fact, this underlying cultural belief is what creates much of our resistance to exercise. We believe that it is a price to pay to eat – or to look a certain way. And those beliefs are what create our pain, resistance, and resentments.
But when we can tune in to the present moment, tune into our bodies, and move toward joy – we have fundamentally transformed our relationships with food and exercise into life-affirming experiences that create sustainable results.