Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Anchors A-Weigh

In mindfulness meditation, the instruction is to choose an anchor that will keep you present and bring you back to the present when your mind has wandered. Most of the time that anchor is the breath. But staying with the breath as the mind goes off in a million directions is, as Tara Brach says, “…basic and it’s hard.”

Things are different here in my new place. The hot water’s on the right, the refrigerator door opens on the left, the stove is electric, I share a wall with neighbors, I have a garage, there’s carpet in the bathroom, I have cable, and the walls are made of plaster. And because the walls are plaster, anything I want to hang must be anchored.

In bed this morning, meditating and watching the sun rise through the blinds, I thought, ‘I am a plaster wall.’

I need anchors.

Until today, I hadn’t exercised in two weeks and I’ve weighed in twice. I’ve eaten pretty much on plan, but not as consciously as usual. Between the move and a couple of medical issues, I haven’t had the time or energy to do anything except deal with my life. I’ve moved through these last few weeks feeling like a stranger in a strange land. Years ago when I lost weight, my usual MO when times were tough was to follow the free fall into its usual abyss of easy comforts. This time, at least, I’ve had enough sense to grab on to the sides and pull myself back up.

When I worked out this morning, I felt anchored again, like I’d come home, come back to the breath, come back to the present moment. Making soup and paprikash and omelets and other familiar foods this week has helped me stay anchored, too. So does the company of people who “get it.” People who understand the whole weight thing.

In a recent blog, Debby from Debby Weighs In posted something that felt like an anchored breath. Here’s a bit of what she wrote:

“So, when I went to the gym last Wednesday, and weighed four pounds over my current maintenance goal, I have to admit it threw me for a loop…I wanted to restrict my diet severely. I wanted to exercise it off. I also wanted to eat myself into oblivion. But I didn’t do anything. I just kept eating the same way I usually do (healthy, moderately,) and I just kept exercising like I always do…


“Sunday…I got up early and headed to the gym for a workout, but mostly to weigh myself and see what the situation was. My weight was DOWN five pounds, one pound less than my maintenance goal. Disaster averted.


“But was disaster ever really there? I went on to have a most vigorous workout, buoyed on by my ‘big loss.’ I wanted to eat to celebrate. I wanted to up my exercise. But I didn’t. I ate the same way I always do.”

Disaster in this weight-loss/maintenance journey might feel eminent, but disaster is never really there if our anchors are in place. Anchors keep us present. They keep us mindful of why we eat and move the way we do. Anchors hold our plaster walls in place. But staying anchored is as basic as it is hard.

So what are your anchors? What keeps you from freefalling on this path?

12 comments:

  1. My anchors are exercising daily as best I can, striving to eat healthfully daily as best I can, Remembering if I'm not hungry food is not the answer. A pan of brownies won't help the situation and lately I've wanted them badly but have not given in.
    Mostly what keeps me from free falling is I'm not the same person I was 13 years ago and what used to work then won't work now.

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  2. I can't "unknow" what I know. I have a set of tools that work, if I pick them up and use them. Like your quote said, if I just keep doing the right things, it will be okay.

    Right now I'm in a spot where my motivation to exercise is almost gone. But motivation does that, it comes in waves, so I just try to hang on where I am until the next wave propels me forward with renewed energy. Expecting to lose weight and be "done with it" is not the truth. There is still movement and it still requires a plan or program.

    Sending good thoughts your way as you navigate these new waters.

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  3. My anchors right now are people like you and I'm holding on tightly!! Struggling to relose these last 18 pounds, tired of it and wanting a quick fix, a handful of you successful (one of which is Debby, whom you quoted) maintainers are truly my anchors. That post from Debby, this one and others keep me focused on just doing what I know works day in and day out. No quick fixes, no quirky changes, no new "diets," just calmly moving forward and holding on to my anchors. THANKS!

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  4. I remember reading Debby's post, and really appreciating the "stability" of it. Just keep on, doing what we know to do... don't over-react and get all stressed and make it worse.

    I'm glad to see it helped you, too, in this time of transition. Anchors. I like that. I'll think on that.
    Loretta
    =^..^=

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  5. Reminding myself that my blood pressure has dropped a bit, its easier to bend over, cloths fit better--I FEEL better and have slightly more energy--basically reminding myself that every pound lost makes my life BETTER

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  6. I think my anchors are my prayer/reflection time each morning, my workouts, and my blog. Having those to regularly turn to help me feel more grounded. I think having time for anything that is just mine makes me feel better.

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  7. Great post! Debby's comments are so true. I'm glad there are people like you two to look up to.

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  8. Lynn, you are a pillar of strength. I've been right where you are where nothing feels as it should. You are so smart to grab onto the things that are familiar and comforting. These are the things that will bring you into your own again. It is so easy to go into panic mode when things we once recognized are suddenly foreign to us. What helps me are leaving behind the things I know that I have no control over, and taking control of the things I know I can. Routine brings comfort.

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  9. Oh Lynn, I am honored that I could be of some help to you. As you know, you are the one who led me down this marvelous blogroad.

    I'm too tired to think deeply, but the last commenter resonated with me "Routine brings comfort."

    Also the concept of an anchor brings W.W. to mind again, as this is a concept they try to teach you. ww is such a good organization. They try very hard to teach you life skills like this one that will help you to change the way you eat. They aren't perfect (hello processed food) but I do think they get criticized unfairly by people who are not completely familiar with their whole program, and by people who want to use the system to lose weight but not to change anything significant about their lives. Just my little mini-rant that escapes once in a while.

    Wish I lived closer so we could get together to just sit and have a cup of tea.

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  10. "Routine brings comfort." So true, Wearing Thin. Surrounding myself in my new place with familiar things and placing them in relatively the same places as before has helped, too. I used to think I had to be super tough, but I've learned over the years that being tough doesn't mean going without comfort.

    {Debby} I wish we could have tea and a chat, too :) I also agree whole-heartedly with you about WW. However, I might take that back after they reveal the new plan! LOL

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  11. Mine are a couple of people that I talk with about EVERYTHING. And equally important is the quiet time I claim for myself every morning when I get up... it's a time to center and get in a good mindset for the day ahead. I come back to those moments throughout the day as needed... some days more than others.

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  12. Lynn - thank you for alerting us to the dangers of "disaster" thinking! That's been me all week. And I really needed to hear about "anchors" and the importance of just doing what you are suppose to do to stay healthy.

    To be honest, I don't know what my "anchor" is in weight loss/maintenance. BUT, I'm going to find one because I hate my "disaster" approach.

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