Friday, January 7, 2011

Finding Contentment

Seeing this ad for Weight Watchers at Work in my inbox today made me sad. My heart breaks a little every time I think of someone else going down the road that, in the end, led to nothing but frustration and distrust of my body. What’s even worse is that I’m on the committee that helps shape and promote these types of initiatives. Yes, really.

When I first heard this was coming, it was pretty much a done deal. It was happening. I had a choice: rail against it or acquiesce. I’m glad that I took a moment to think before sharing my reaction. My knee-jerk defiance would not have convinced anyone. So, I chose to share my concerns but not let it take over the whole meeting. So here we are.

The most important lesson I’ve learned since deciding once and for all to never again restrict food intake or exercise for the purpose of losing weight is that everyone is entitled to body autonomy. I now know, on a fundamental level, that no one else’s opinions or proscriptions for me or my body are as important as my own. I have the right to listen and incorporate or reject anything. The flip side of that, of course, is that I must recognize that right in others as well.

There is a large demand for these types of programs and this is the result. Personally, it’s hard for me to fathom that the low cost yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and other fitness classes are not exactly full to capacity, but people are clamoring to give big chunks their money away to a big corporation to provide them the magic answer to health. But that is my opinion, and just as I’m entitled to it, so are those who want to give this a shot. Who am I to tell anyone what to do with their body?

So, I’ll continue the revolution in my own quiet way. I share my perspective with anyone who wants to hear it and shut the hell up when it’s clearly not wanted. I am no evangelist. All I can do is find the right path for me and surround myself with supportive (if not always completely like-minded) people. It’s not my job to tell anyone else how to live.

In my yoga teacher training class, they call me Santosha – which means Contentment. I picked it because it sounded pretty and stood for something I’d like to cultivate in my life. And it’s working… the more I let go of things I can’t control (like trying to change my body or the choice of others to do Weight Watchers), the happier I am. I enjoy taking care of myself in many ways, including doing yoga on a close-to-daily basis; a daily home practice is something I could never quite make myself do, before. Funny how when I stopped trying to make myself do it, I found that I truly wanted to do it. These things become easier now that I do them out of love, rather than in the pursuit of some quantifiable goal. There is no longer that feeling of discouragement that comes when the scale doesn’t move or inexplicably goes up. Who cares? How does doing yoga make me feel, right now? Do I feel more alive and in touch with my body and my soul? Good, then my purpose was achieved.

So that is my wish and intention for my world – Contentment. I hope that whatever path you choose to take, it brings you peace and self-acceptance.

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