I recently read an article about priorities. The questions were posed: What would you want to do if you only had a year left to live? A month? A week? A day? The purpose of the exercise is to pinpoint our priorities so that how we live right now is consistent with our values.
As the imagined available time lessens, our desires are distilled and we discover what we truly need to be happy. For most of us, spending time with family is how we'd spend our last year/month/week/day. We wouldn't obsess about our weight, waste time feeling ashamed of our bodies, or apologize for our fat. It would no longer be an issue. Weight would be back in its rightful place. It wouldn't be front and center anymore. It doesn't deserve to be.
I'd spend my last days with my family, my pets, and a couple close friends. I'd want to tell them how much I love them. How much they mean to me. What they've brought to my life. And I'd do my best to pave the way for them to heal after I'm gone. I'd write them letters and make videos so they could have concrete reminders of my love for them. And I'd spend time in prayer and ask God to forgive my sins. There would be lots of hugs and kisses and tears, yes. But there would also be laughter. A lot of it. Because while there have been great difficulties in my life, there has been even more joy. And many, many moments of hilarity. I wouldn't have it any other way.
This priorities exercise could be an excuse for giving up my (recently unsuccessful) struggle to lose weight. After all, counting calories and exercising are not how I would spend my last days--and no one knows when her last day will be. But. Excess weight isn't just a superficial concern. It's a health issue. Everyone knows that obesity leads to diseases that shorten lives. What if my extra weight and unhealthy habits were the CAUSES of only having a year/month/week/day to live? Would losing weight and getting healthier be priorities then?
So I can't give up. Because I want to live a long, healthy life with my family and friends. But I can tweak my goals and shift my attitude so that my definition of success isn't so narrow. When a lower number on the scale is the only goal, I can only pass or fail. No other progress is deemed worthy of celebrating. This quickly leads to feelings of shame and depression. And that's the opposite of motivating.
My real body goal should be to get healthier. Weight loss is a part of that, but only a part. I may not be losing weight right now, but I am creating healthier habits. Right now I can be a healthier size whatever. I can eat whole foods, get enough fiber, get the vitamins and minerals my body needs, and stay hydrated. I can move because it feels good, relieves pain in my muscles and joints, and helps me to be more flexible. Each day can be a success as I choose to make healthy choices.
And hopefully someday, the healthy choices I make will add up to weight loss. But even if they don't, I will be much better off than I would have been if I'd kept doing what I've always done.