'Thinking right' gets you where 'eating right' doesn't

Originally published on www.spirituality.com

When I was Growing up, my friends said I had stubby legs, my mom described me as "round," and I thought I had large bones.

I didn't think about what they said much - in fact, I didn't think about it at all until I started playing competitive tennis in high school. My tennis coach kept telling me I wasn't moving fast enough or soon enough. I got the serve and strokes down pretty well, but going after the ball was such a huge effort!

Between my freshman and sophomore years in college I figured out that I was just plain fat. Bummed? Well, not at first - I mean, I was still playing tennis (more doubles) and coaching, and I looked OK, just "thick."

But one night I knew I had to do something. I had just finished dinner and my boyfriend called: "Let's go get a burger!" Well, all I really wanted was to go out with him, it didn't matter where. But when we got to the restaurant, I ordered a burger. My boyfriend was surprised.

"You just ate!"

"Yeah, but I love these burgers..."

"But you don't need to eat!"

"But I WANT to!"

Well, there it was. I was eating for the TASTE - not because I was hungry. And, for me, there was no way to satisfy taste - when it tasted good, I just wanted more!

Well, I did what most everyone does: went on a diet, joined a health club, lost weight ... and alternated between feeling good and feeling mad because I was "sacrificing." Started gaining again. Then losing. Then gaining. Worse, now I had added a load of fear about getting fat again!

This went on for a few years. Thinking about food (eat? not eat? what to eat?) was consuming my life - it was awful.

Clearly, looking to food for the solution wasn't the answer; the more I thought about it, the more depressed I got. "Eating right" wasn't the real answer - I had to think right.

I asked God to help me rethink eating and my weight. How could I think spiritually about these physical things?

Driving to a family gathering one afternoon, thinking and worrying about what I would eat, the First Commandment in the Bible came to mind: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Huh!? Was I allowing food to have more influence over me than God? Yes - by letting it control my life. Instead of thinking about food and wanting its taste or energy, I should think more about God and want more of His spiritual characteristics in my life.

At that moment, it was like the sun coming from behind a cloud. I felt this lightness - like freedom - that I hadn't felt in years.

I went to the family party and ate what was offered. But during the party, more spiritual ideas came to me about feeling satisfied with the love that God has given me. I realized later that I had eaten less than usual and stopped naturally when I felt full.

Over the next several months, I lost some weight and stopped obsessing about food (really the heavier load of the two). Whenever I wandered into what-should-I-eat-to-control-my-weight-land, I'd remember the First Commandment. I would relax and eat whatever was available, and would know when to stop.

I noticed some practical changes in my eating at that time. I ate only when I was hungry. I ate more slowly, making it easier to tell when I was full, and then it was easy to stop. But the new way to eat was an outgrowth of the spiritual insight, and didn't require intense will-power or complicated regimens. My weight stabilized and has been just about the same ever since.

Another good result was I felt energized to take on more community activities and to play sports. Yes, I lost weight, but it was my thinking that got in better shape.

The First Commandment,

'Thou shalt have no other gods before me,' is a law never to be abrogated - a divine statute for yesterday, and to-day, and forever.

Mary Baker Eddy

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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