One Bite at a Time

It’s Friday morning and I’m on the scale. I weigh myself on Fridays—more frequently than that potentially feeds my obsession with my weight, but anything less than that tends to close me off in denial.

I’m on the scale, and I’m not happy with the numbers.

When my dog, Lucy, died a few months ago, I experienced much pain and emptiness. I decided to loosen my nutritional guidelines, to give myself some leeway around foods that I usually don’t eat. It was a mindful decision, and I dove into it by giving myself permission to eat more comfort foods. But, after a few weeks, I realized it wasn’t working.

Lucy was still dead. And, besides her being dead, I now felt bloated, had more restless sleep, was uncomfortable in my clothing, and dreaded any encounter I might have with a mirror. Just a few weeks later, and I felt so much worse! So I invited myself back into a mindful practice of eating.

Everybody has to discover their place of balance. For me, minimizing my intake of carbohydrates, staying away from sugar, and limiting my caffeine work together as powerful pillars of balance. I’m more comfortable physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I wear these guidelines loosely and frame them as a gift to myself, rather than as a deprivation. Any deprivation that I imagine I’m enduring will only result in more acting out down the road.

I’ve had a few weeks now of ease-filled eating. My detoxification from the increased carbs wasn’t awful. I was effortlessly losing about a half a pound a week. My clothes felt better. My self-esteem was returning. I was headed toward spring with a renewed sense of body-connectedness and energy.

And now—the scale was going in the wrong direction again. I could feel my face flushing, my disbelief becoming anger. How could this happen? I’m firmly planted on my pillars of nutritional balance, and I’m gaining weight?

A few long seconds pass over me. And then, I hear myself snicker. I fell for the illusion again— that the number on the scale can determine this journey!

There are so many other benefits I’ve received from this past week’s practice of eating mindfully. I’m sleeping better, my energy is good. I haven’t had a headache in weeks. Isn’t that enough? I look down at the pants I’m wearing and laugh again. I couldn’t fit into these pants a few weeks ago. That’s a victory!

The victories are everywhere, as I allow my eyes to move away from the scale. Yes, sometimes we need the scale as a reality check. But when we reframe this journey—from a weight-loss process to a mindful experiment in health, wellness, vitality, and self-discovery—then the victories are always available.

I step off the scale. Remembering the power of practice, I walk to the kitchen, ready and willing to eat my mindful breakfast. Practice sometimes means losing and gaining and losing again; it means remembering and forgetting and remembering again. On this journey, it’s one bite at a time.

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Aruni Nan Futuronsky is a Kripalu Yoga teacher, life coach, and Legacy Faculty member for Kripalu R&R and Kripalu programs.

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