I’ve been thinking a lot today about redemption, especially about the many, many times in my life I have personally been forgiven for things I have carelessly, or sometimes purposely, done that have brought unnecessary pain or troubles to others. In the whole course of life, there have been far too many. The experience of grace is a cleansing of soul and spirit.

Redemption comes in many places. In my life I have experienced it from my wife and daughter, my mother and siblings, and from friends who continue to bless me with simple kindnesses and warm relationships. I become aware of these redemptive moments in the quiet spaces I have created for myself while reading, gardening, cooking, driving, writing, or simply chilling with my hands petting a dog on each side where I am sitting. Grace is truly amazing!


Yoga by the garden

With warmth returning to the Dallas area this weekend, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful afternoon and do my yoga outside by my vegetable garden.  What an awesome experience it was!

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe it is much better to go to the classes with an instructor, especially for newbies like me.  At our Bikram Yoga studio however, the weekend classes are packed full, and I get distracted because I am so tall and take up so much space.  I’m always aware of bumping into someone, and it’s not good for my focus, or the other person’s either, for that matter

I found myself with an incredible ability to concentrate out by my garden.  All of the instructor’s comments were in my mind, and because I was not distracted, I could really hear them and apply them.

I also witnessed some things I had not experienced before, like the importance of breathing properly.  Breathing is an important part of yoga, and I just figured I would worry about that later.  For me, it was about the postures since that is what is so visible to everyone else in the room.  Hmmm…a little self-conscious, I suppose,

It was a good discovery about myself, and I believe it will help me be more focused when I return to the studio tomorrow for the group class.  It will be nice to return to the hot room and enjoy the greater benefits of the heat.

Healthy eating and going it alone…it’s not that bad!

When I decided to change my eating habits and to limit my diet to whole foods, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, I knew it would impact others besides myself.  I also know from past experience that it’s easy to become an evangelist about a new diet, and evangelists can be downright annoying.  I didn’t want this to happen.

Your dietary impact upon others

  • When you eat a meal that is not the SAD (standard American diet) type, you call attention to the habits of others.  Without intending any negative consequences, there can be some sharp things said about your diet choices as others become more self-conscious of their own eating decisions.
  • Dining out can be tricky as your friends and family will either want to accommodate you in choosing a place to eat, or they will simply expect you to conform to them.
  • If you are the primary food prep person in your home, your cooking methods, as well as food choices, will impact those of your family.  The problem is the potential for massive household rebellion, and this can lead to giving up the healthy diet in order to conform to the others in the household.

Some basic rules for controlling the hidden messages in your diet

  • Let it be as private as possible.  In other words, after you’ve informed those closest to you that you intend to eat a different diet, and you have satisfied their curiosity about your reasons for doing so, just move on and do it.  It doesn’t have to be explained, and it doesn’t have to be understood by anyone but YOU!  Don’t preach it, just do it!
  • Have a plan in mind for how you can handle dining out at various restaurants where your friends and family like to spend time.  Almost any place will at least serve a salad, so it’s not a lost cause.  If you’re like me, these have always been the most sociable times with my wife.  We like to catch up on the day, listen to one another’s stories, and we genuinely enjoy our time together while others wait on us at the table.  Being a native resident of Texas, Tex-Mex food has been our favorite for many years.  I have a couple of things I know I can get in any Tex-Mex place.  The ingredients may not be quite as healthy as my do-it-yourself version, but as long as it’s within the general bounds of my diet plan, I can survive Tex-Mex places by eating a guacamole salad, salsa, and a couple of corn tortillas, especially if the tortillas are steamed, instead of cooked in oil.  Having something in mind ahead of time helps with the stress, for both you and your significant other(s).
  • When people ask you how you’re losing so much weight, and they will, tell them in the simplest terms possible, without using “should’s” and “must’s” and “always.”  Try not to elaborate unless they continue to ask for more and more details.  Limit your responses to their questions, and don’t go off on the research, the poor quality of other diet programs, etc.  Just chill…answer the questions, thank them for complimenting your weight loss, and just move on.
  • If you are the primary cook in your home, as I am, you must be willing to make one huge sacrifice to keep the peace, that is, be willing to continue serving up their favorites while preparing, and eating, the food that is preferable for your own diet.  It may mean twice the cooking, twice the dishes afterwards, and twice the time, but your willingness to do this, without complaint, will put an end to any conflict with the family regarding your new eating regimen.

Some interesting results

By using the strategies above, I have found that my friends and family have adapted a lot!  My wife now wants a salad in her lunch box every day…no problem, it makes me smile!

I found out by eavesdropping that a lot of people at work are making some healthier choices after some of them have asked me a barrage of questions.

The general consciousness of good health and nutrition in our household and in my place of business has been raised.  There is no doubt that my 60+ pound weight loss (to date) has made an impact, and I swear, I’ve only talked about it when asked a question.

Living a healthy life does indeed impact the world around you positively, though it may not appear this way at first.  Just follow the rules above, and hopefully, it will make a difference for you.

Me and my big fat butt

Diet coaches normally caution people to be aware of their self-talk.  It’s understandable.  Most obese people have gone through years of being depressed about their condition, and self-talk can actually make things more depressing, that is, if all you give yourself are negative messages.

But, there is something akin to dishonesty when we do not take a serious look in the mirror and come to terms with our obesity.  If we have people telling us that we look just fine, and that so-and-so is much heavier than we are, it has a way of making us think that we’re not in quite the poor shape we actually are.  This helps us postpone doing something about improving our health, namely, taking diet seriously.

Doctors, too, are reticent.  Once known for their brutal honesty when it came to speaking the truth about a person’s health, today, it seems, they are less apt to bring up unpleasant subjects that might upset us.  My doctor of almost 20 years has never told me I am overweight, though I am (or was) about 80 pounds too fat.  Instead, year after year, he just prescribed my blood pressure medicine, sent me to a sleep clinic to get treated for sleep apnea, told me I could use certain over-the-counter drugs to help me sleep better, and had me check my blood sugar regularly and send him my reports.  Nothing has ever been said or done to help me eliminate the problem at the core…to lose weight by eating healthy.

Like alcoholics, obese people are willing to surround themselves with sympathetic others.  We create a network of codependents that feed off one another’s self-congratulations and shallow encouragements.

I do not believe that withholding the truth from ourselves is ever a good idea.  If we can deceive ourselves, we simply forget what the truth is…and the truth is that we are eating ourselves into an early grave or a quality of life that really sucks.  I know, I’ve been living there for years.

As people have started complimenting me every day on my weight loss — people who never spoke to me much before — it is easy to pat myself on the back and think the journey is over.  In the past, this is always the time I stopped being careful…I felt good, looked good, and I was wearing nicer clothes.

But, this time, I can’t let that happen.  When I look at myself naked, in the mirror, I still see sagging pockets of fat around my arms, my man-boobs, and my sagging, big fat butt.  It’s much smaller than it was, but I have a long way to go.

The difference between honest self-talk and self-denigration is that honest self-talk can lead to honest action to alleviate the problem, while self-denigration mires itself in self-pity, listening to the network of codependents chirp about how we look “just fine.”

I say, to hell with looks!  Looks will come on their own time.  Give me better health!  I want to live a long life, a happy one, one in which I can still bend over and put on my boots without having to hold my breath in.  I want to live!  I want life!

Follow me on Twitter, too, @toddwrite.