Weight gain, as a spiritual exercise

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I keep a list of potential blog topics that arise from my experience, and this morning, I’ve been trying to write about the difference between “rigid” and “rigorous,” which are two interpretations of the disciplines I try to follow to maintain my recovery from food addiction.

But I’ve stumbled out of the block three or four times, for the reason that it’s hard to talk about rigor when I’ve gained weight. [Update: After a couple of inquiries, I realized that I should have sketched the magnitude. I've gained about five pounds.]

I believe I understand the reasons, that I’m honest about them, that I’m not in denial about them — which are all good things — but they don’t change the facts a) that I’ve gained weight and b) that I’m so far unwilling to change the conditions that have led to this change in my body.

I believe it is the result of one change in my routine: I haven’t done any meaningful exercise since I stopped taking Joseph to daycare via bicycle last fall. In the 2-3 years prior, I’d had one of the best stretches of regular exercise I’d ever had, and now I’m stuck in unwillingness to begin again. I have “reasons” for this, but they pale in the face of what this change means for me.

The weight is one thing, tied not only to everything it represents for most people — body image, self-respect, comfort within my skin, etc. — but also to my professional success. I’m not going to impress many listeners from the podium when I have a paunch or worse.

But also, I know incontrovertibly that exercise is a prime contributor to my wellbeing, both physically — endorphins, oxygen in the bloodstream, etc. — and metaphysically — the aforementioned body image, self-respect, etc.

I once remarked to my friend Barbara Huebner (triathlete, marathoner, runner and biker up Mount Washington, which isn’t important to the story, but is damn impressive nevertheless) that “I know I’ll feel better if I exercise, but I’m just not willing,” to which she applied some elementary syllo-jujitsu: “Oh, so you’re unwilling to feel better.” [Correction: She never rode up Mt. Washington. What a weakling.]

Uh, yeah. Then, and again.

I “could” white-knuckle my way into doing it, but that notion has two flaws. First, if I really can, why haven’t I over the course of a year, motivated not only by the weight gain but by the considerable dis-ease the lack brings? And second, I have copious proof that white-knuckling is not a reliable basis on which to build anything, let alone my long-term health. My long-term changes have come from spiritual change and maintenance, not any iron fist, least of all my own.

So I’ve been praying, for quite some time, for a turn of spirit, and until something changes, I’ll guess I’ll just sit here and stew.

That’s where I am with rigor, today.

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
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