Forever is such a long time. Its something that we can skirt around the edges of, but I don’t think the human mind is really well suited to pursuing the concept of eternity. So when we talk about losing weight and keeping it off for a lifetime, it doesn’t surprise me that people can get discouraged.
Think of it this way. If I said, ‘in order to live to a ripe old age, you will have to eat healthy greens and a piece of fruit every single day, watch your portions every single day, and remain physically active every single day from now on for the rest of your life’ — how would that sound? A little daunting? Probably even unappealing!
But that really could be said about ANYTHING that we ‘have to do forever.’ We have to sleep every single night for the rest of our lives. We have to drink water. We probably ought to brush our teeth, spend money carefully, and dress appropriately as well.
And while I’m not an expert, I’m guessing that the human psyche thrives on a combination of the predictable AND the unknown-hoped-for. Personally, I don’t want my life to be a sort of ‘Ground Hog Day’ where I need to repeat myself ad nauseum. Nor do I want to wake up every single morning wondering where my next meal is coming from, trusting that the universe will provide.
The other night a young woman told me that she couldn’t bear the thought of ‘having to do this forever.’ So of course my first question was to ask her what she meant by ‘this.’ And she threw up her hands and said ‘All of it. The measuring, the planning, journalling, the dieting… all of it!’
Doesn’t her frustration make sense? It did to me. That kind of ‘forever’ just isn’t appealing. It holds out so little in the way of joy and spontaneity.
Now there are some things that I’d like to see go on and on (my marriage, my full head of hair, my teeth) but for the most part I’m satisfied with doing the best with the near term ‘for now’ and letting the long term work itself out.
In this way, I have set aside a range of unhealthy foods that I feel very drawn to (most notably, pizza, pastries and full-fat ice cream) because I know that I can live without them ‘for now’ despite their amazing appeal. ‘For now’ has gotten me through a lot of parties, some really long trips, and a couple of emotional crises. Sometimes ‘for now’ has been a month, sometimes its been an hour. Once I even set a timer for 15 minutes.
‘For now’ might be vague, but its so much more manageable than forever. Don’t you think?