My body and I have arguments. Pretty much every day. They go something like this:
Emotions: I want chocolate.
Logic: No you don’t. You shouldn’t eat it. It’ll upset your stomach and you’ll gain weight.
Body: OOOOH! CHOCOLATE!
Emotions: See, I want chocolate. My body wants it. I NEED it.
Logic: No, your body wants it because YOU thought about sweets, but if we ate it we wouldn’t enjoy it and we would feel guilty after eating it. Don’t have the chocolate, you’ll just regret it…. Have fruit instead.
Emotions: Forget fruit! chocolate chocolate chocolate chocolate….. What reasons can I think of to have chocolate? Hmmm…. I’m stressed. I just went to the doctor. I’m PMS-ing. I am tired. I had a bad day. I feel like it.
Body: Sounds good. Chocolate.
And then, I eat chocolate. 90% of the time I regret it.
The arguments started in my early twenties. I was in college and as I gained weight year after year with processed food and drinking on the weekends, my digestive system decided to revolt. So in 2004 I went through this unplanned 2 year process of cleaning out all the crap in my life: negative friendships, unhealthy eating habits, personal setbacks. It was hard, but at the end of it I was 65 pounds lighter, in a healthy relationship (he’s now my husband), had rewarding friendships, was doing what I love (art and writing), and was 75% less affected by my digestive condition.
And then I went to grad school. And I moved 1000 miles from my family. And then came: emotional eating. I gained back 10 pounds. Doesn’t sound like a lot, and it’s not bad. But if you were always chubby and you got down to a size that was smaller than you were in junior high, you really don’t want to go back. And that’s where the battle is: I want two things. To eat crap from time to time, and to stay thin. Over and over, I fight with temptation. And sometimes, I lose.
Being a newlywed I think about the elements of a life-long commitment a lot. Why is it that I can commit to another person for my entire life, but when it comes to committing to myself for even 3 weeks, I balk? I could chalk this lack of self-commitment up to a heap of things: external rewards are easier to come by than internal rewards, a brownie can’t hug me, and it’s easier to have fun with cake or my husband than to exercise control by a living a consistently healthy lifestyle. Regardless of the reasons, I recently realized my personal expectations were pretty ridiculous.
With food and exercise, I haven’t allowed myself any leniency. My eating rules have been so rigid, I could have never succeeded at them for life. They’re just too hard (things my body physically protests : sugar, alcohol, sulfites, MSG, nitrates, fried or spicy foods, high amounts of fat, enriched carbs, dairy, caffeine, green/black tea, and–yes– chocolate)!
I am aware that being married for a lifetime means I will experience disappointment, heartache, and pain. I know we’ll each slip up somehow. But I adjust for these things by acknowledging that we aren’t perfect. We each might take an appreciative look at a cute guy/girl who walks by. We might make flirtatious conversation with the opposite sex. We will likely take pleasure knowing “I still got it!” when we get hit on. I know I do! And that’s okay. I have learned from my grandparents that a little leniency and a little innocent “sinning” goes a long way for marital bliss. Like my grandma says (her qualifications? Married almost 60 years, faithful loving couple, raised 7 kids): Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you’re dead. You can look, just never touch!
So I have adopted a better attitude. I am marrying myself.
If I marry myself, I commit to loving myself in spite of all those things that bug or disappoint me. I accept that my desires, interests, and needs will change over time. I offer myself compassion and leniency, support and encouragement. I commit to staying healthy physically and mentally so that I can continue to find myself attractive. I am dedicated to balancing my needs against the needs of others. I put the love I have for me above the love I have for my family (I can’t do much for others if I secretly loathe myself–and loving myself well also means disallowing myself to become a jerk or egotistical).
I commit to the up’s and down’s that I’ll have over the years. I’ll exercise regularly for awhile, but there will come a month where I don’t get to the gym as often. I will remind myself that marriages take work. I can’t just lose 65 pounds and stop trying, just like I can’t be faithful before my wedding day and then “drop the act” (as so many do) once the ring is on the finger.
I am committed to make this relationship work, so I have to keep working at it. Forever. Because just like I don’t know what great things are lying ahead for me and Jake, I also will be pleasantly surprised at what’s lying ahead for me and my body and mind!
Thanks for reading.