A few ideas from different sources have recently converged in my brain. They haven’t all quite congealed into a cohesive thought, but they’re trying.
I rode a Segway for the first time at The Next HOPE in New York. Upon seeing the pictures Aaron took of me, my first thought was, “Look how puffy my arms are!” Only secondarily were ideas of a.) how much fun it was to ride a Segway, or b.) how awesome it was to wear a cute girly-cut shirt, because I can now.
Aaron and I had dinner and drinks with a couple in NYC whom we hadn’t seen in person in about four years. Their first comment to us was, “You’re so slim!” Sure, I’ve lost 30 pounds since I saw them last, but Aaron’s lost over twice that much. Mentally, I just assumed that his massive weight loss was making us as a couple look thinner. Hey, I’ll take what I can get!
I watched a TED talk last night (via Whore of All the Earth) about happiness. In a nutshell, psychologist Dan Gilbert posits that the human brain has the capability to synthesize happiness. It comes off like sour grapes… until he relates the results of an experiment with amnesiacs, which supports the hypothesis that this is an innate function of the human brain, rather than a conscious decision to just be happy with what one has.
I related an incident to my Weight Watchers meeting today, one that happened a few months back, in which a co-worker asked me, “So, have you always been overweight?” Rarely have I witnessed the entire meeting room being so taken aback. They all insisted that the comments were harassment, that I should contact HR — but I disagree. At the time, I actually didn’t think much of that particular comment, and merely responded that, yes, I have always been overweight.
I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around the Fat Acceptance movement — not because I think weight should be a reason to discriminate, but because I’ve always been overweight, and have wanted to be a “normal” weight instead. I have a hard time accepting myself at the size I am, whether it’s 80 pounds overweight or just 20 or 25. I can’t imagine — literally can’t fathom — being obese and seriously happy about it, or even OK with it… because I wasn’t. I’m still not, even though I’m only “overweight” now.
Although I’m no longer an active practitioner of Zen Buddhism, I still appreciate and adhere to many of the teachings. One of these, one that helps me considerably, is the concept of non-attachment. I’m not attached to any given outcome. It’s like ambivalence, but not. It’s not basing my happiness on this or that. This weight or that weight. This job or that job. Kids or no kids. This city or that city. Every outcome has pros and cons, and I don’t need to prefer one over the other. Either can make me happy.
I can be happy as I am now, or I can be happy 20 pounds lighter. Preferably both.