Monday, October 29, 2012

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Is it true that fat people are jolly? No, I’m not buying that stereotype. How about the reverse? Are jolly people necessarily fat? There may be some truth to that. Have you ever heard anyone apply the adjective “jolly” to a skinny person? Can you even picture a jolly skinny person? I’m gonna have to go with the idea that jolly is a term specifically reserved for the corpulent. Consider, for a moment, the loss to humankind if  “Old Saint Nicolas,” for one, achieved a normal body mass index. It would be devastating to children around the world, to the elves and reindeer, not to mention Mrs. Claus.

This issue of jolliness reminds me of the old joke—Q: How many Feminists does it take to change a light bulb? A: That's not funny!!! There seems, increasingly, to be an aspect to the new improved (physically that is) Yesh that is simply not funny, or more succinctly, not fun. This was something I had feared from the beginning—that is, what part of my very essence is attached to the reckless abandon and joy of immersing myself in the gustatory delights of the universe? How would a campaign of discipline and relative deprivation affect what had been an emotional as well as a physical feast at life’s table?

Feedback from people close to me suggests that someone not only has kidnapped the body of the old Yeshaya Douglas Ballon (by any name), but the spirit as well. This is a serious issue. I look at my last two blogs and I see a vexing trend. Is this disagreeable emergence in my affect a result of six months of relative food deprivation or is this a coincidence? Are there other factors at work (e.g., changes at my job, contemplation of retirement, an overfull to-do list, irregular patterns of exercise, writing, meditation, etc.) that are the primary causes? Or is this just a “perfect storm?” Can I even sort out cause and effect or am I in a vicious cycle spiraling out of control?

There are many challenges associated with achieving my goal of normal weight. In attaining any goal, there are always trade offs, some of which sneak up on us. I must note quickly that this transformation I am undergoing is by no means over. It has only just begun. The physical loss of fifty or sixty pounds was front loaded by virtue of a highly restrictive four-month diet. The maintenance part of the weight loss program is designed to be a long-term venture. Included in that, unquestionably, is a huge emotional component. For me that’s not only a question of returning to a life of eating real food in a healthy, life-sustaining way, but also finding a comfortable presence and a palatable demeanor in our food-centered social world. Another way to put it is—can a normal body and normal behavior coexist for me?

I was delighted this summer to connect my physical quest to a spiritual quest by selecting “lightness” as my focus. To that I must add an emotional aspect—to be lighthearted, to light up a room rather than cast a shadow, to rekindle what a friend suggested was a spark that I have seemingly lost. This seems much more challenging than losing the fat. No one said losing weight would be easy. On the other hand, I couldn't have anticipated the exact nature of these intangible unintended consequences either. As in any transformation, awareness is the first hurdle, and as I gain insight I can set new goals. As long as I maintain my new trim figure I may never be labeled “jolly” again. That I can live with. There’s an alternative that I strive for. Just as I’ve trimmed a few pounds from my middle, maybe I could judiciously trim a just few letters from the middle of “jolly” and at least be left with “joy!”

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