These Transformative Principles are part of a series on achieving permanent health change that began on March 21. The "principles" are not meant to be gospel. They are simply thoughts of mine that are based on observation of successful maintainers, personal experience and--to some degree-- my own conjecture. I hope they provide some food for thought as you continue your own quest for health transformation.
Transformative Principle #2: Transformation requires re-engaging with your body.
As people gain weight, they often create a separation between themselves and their bodies. The mirror may become their enemy. Clothes that define their shape may be passed over in favor of garments that conceal. They may not want to exercise because they are afraid of how they may look.
It's surprisingly easy to live entirely in your head, blocking out not only visuals but the messages that your body is sending. Modern medicine is a terrific thing, but sometimes we cede control to doctors as a way of further distancing ourselves from our own physical aspect. It's easier to have a cortisone injection in your knee than to heal that knee yourself. It's scientific and unemotional to swallow cholesterol medicine. It's messy to look at the way you've been eating and try to turn it off.
Those who have undergone transformation still see their flaws. They may not like them (see Lynn's piece on The Green House), but they are looking and they are connected.
Transformation is about wanting to take care of yourself in a deep and permanent way. It's impossible to care for something that remains shrouded from view. So start looking.
I don't believe in platitudes like "You need to learn to love yourself" or "You just need to do more for YOU". Wanting to transform is not a switch you can flip from off to on. Working on inhabiting the part of you that lies below your collar bones is part of the long and scary process of changing.
This is where physical activity can be very helpful. Movement, exercise, things that force the body into action put you into direct communion with your muscles, bones and organs. This part of the transformation prescription need not be strenuous. It might be Tai Chi, walking in the park, or slow stretchy yoga. It might be quiet meditation with deep, complete breathing. It might be private time with a "Sweatin' to the Oldies" DVD. Or it might simply be more time looking at yourself and passing over your faults in favor of reminding yourself of your body's amazing potential for rebuilding and recovery.
E.M. Forster begins his celebrated novel Howard's End with a single phrase…."Only connect….." The meaning of these words has been debated ever since the book's publication. Some think it refers to the inability of certain characters to relate to other people. Whatever it's intended meaning, it remains an emblem of Forster. These two words shimmer because we all understand that we are nothing without connection: whether it is with our friends, our children, our spouses, or our world. And that connection begins with an appreciation for our very selves and for the bodies that have been gifted to us. Connect with that body and it can begin to heal.