Lose weight by do­ing ev­ery­thing ex­cept di­et­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - Visit www.chick­en­soup.com. ERIKA HOFF­MAN

As we near the end of Jan­uary, many of us have al­ready made and bro­ken our New Year’s res­o­lu­tions to eat bet­ter, hit the gym more and lose weight.

It’s the same dis­ap­point­ment and feel­ing of in­ad­e­quacy year af­ter year. What if in­stead of giv­ing our­selves a hard time for our lack of willpower and com­mit­ment, we sim­ply dropped the strug­gle to lose weight and fo­cused in­stead on im­prov­ing other ar­eas of our lives? Erika Hoff­man de­cided to do just that, as she writes in her story “Keep­ing Busy,” in our book about “shap­ing the new you.” Erika ex­plains what hap­pened when she de­cided not to make a res­o­lu­tion about los­ing weight:

“Not this year,” I an­swered my daugh­ter. “Guess again!”

She stud­ied me hard. “You didn’t make a res­o­lu­tion to lose weight?” “I said I didn’t.” “Huh? That’s your res­o­lu­tion ev­ery year.”

“Look at me. Has it ever worked?”

She gave me the once-over as I pirou­et­ted in front of our re­frig­er­a­tor.

“I see your point,” she ad­mit­ted as she wig­gled past me to open the fridge’s door. “You don’t buy healthy foods, Mom,” she an­nounced as she peered into the ice­box.

“Like yo­gurt?” “Yep.” “Seems to me I just tossed out a dozen con­tain­ers some­one stock­piled six months ago and never ate.”

“They got pushed to the back. I didn’t see them,” she par­ried.

“And the Vi­ta­min Wa­ter you had to have?”

“That stays good. Help your­self.” She wan­dered off with some salsa to the pantry to claim an over­sized bag of tor­tilla chips. I threw a with­er­ing glance at her choice for lunch. “You buy this stuff !” “Your dad does.” I am 40 pounds over­weight. And I am never mak­ing a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion about it again. This past Jan­uary I took a new tack. I lim­ited my goals to four, and los­ing weight is not one of them.

My premier ob­jec­tive is to learn how to dance. So I take lessons at Fred As­taire once a week with a young Ukrainian in­struc­tor. Also, ev­ery Tues­day my hus­band and I at­tend group lessons at a lo­cal restau­rant af­ter hours. For those spans of time, I’m not eat­ing; I’m mov­ing and hav­ing fun.

My se­cond aim is to walk daily. I have a gal pal who traipses around the neigh­bour­hood with me. In­stead of jaw­bon­ing on cell­phones, we dis­cuss pol­i­tics, our kids, re­li­gion, gar­den­ing and lo­cal “gos­sip” as we per­am­bu­late. Again, I’m away from the pantry, mov­ing and amus­ing my­self.

My third goal is to or­ga­nize my messes for an hour a day. I don’t mean mun­dane chores like daily dishes and laun­dry. I’m de­vot­ing 60 min­utes per diem to long-ac­crued piles, draw­ers of junk filled to the brim and crammed clos­ets of stuff the PTA thrift shop would turn down.

Dur­ing this tidy­ing time, my hands and mind are busy. I reach, grasp and squat as I wres­tle with decades of ac­cu­mu­lated de­bris. No food in­volved in the process. Not a fun time, but a sense of sat­is­fac­tion sur­rounds me as I free up space.

My fourth pledge in­volves prayer. Dur­ing this I am sta­tion­ary. Yet it fixes my head, sta­bi­lizes my emo­tions and gives me a re­newed sense of pur­pose for all the tasks and di­ver­sions that lie ahead.

A month has passed since I re­solved not to re­solve to lose weight. Guess what? I’ve lost five pounds.

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