It’s New Year’s Eve. The cooking will begin soon. For now, I’m watching one of my favorite movies: Up in the Air.
Up in the Air first intrigued me because George Clooney’s character travels for a living. I sit in airports frequently enough to be amused by his travel tips and comments about airlines. That’s life when you teach overseas.
Something different strikes me today. As a side job, Clooney’s character lectures about life as a backpack. He encourages his audiences to lighten their lives. He obviously goes too far by asking folks to consider lightening up their personal relationships – an error he later realizes.
But I think there is some wisdom in lightening up our lives. Perhaps lightening our bodies has something to do with lightening our lives.
I could make all sorts of resolutions for the new year. I could talk about goal weight or list out foods I will avoid. But I won’t. In 2012, I will aspire to the following:
Take at least 5 minutes per day to clear my head.
I’ve often heard about the power of meditation and prayer. I can achieve five minutes per day.
Think less about food by focusing on the moment.
This sounds counterintuitive. I should be counting calories and cooking for myself. What strikes me is that, those year I was my thinnest, I gave very little thought to food. I’d sometimes forget to eat. I was enjoying my job and my friends.
If I focus on the moment, cooking becomes more enjoyable. I remember a long period where I had company at my house. While I enjoyed their company, I longed for a few minutes alone. My Hong Kong kitchen was so small, it fit only one person. My guests walked into the kitchen to say, “You don’t need to go to so much trouble. We can go out somewhere.” I was perfectly honest when I said, “I’m really enjoying this. Enjoy your time in the living room.” My need for “alone time” was saved by the process of chopping vegetables an my kitchen-for-one.
Think less about food and more about the people around me.
I once sat at a restaurant for a friend’s birthday party. She had invited some France who were born and raised in France. I was struck by the slow speed at which they took bites. The bites were small. It was obvious that the food, while spectacular, was far less important than conversations with the people sitting around them.
In Marva Dawn’s book Remembering the Sabbath, she discusses the Jewish ritual of Shabbot as being about time and relationships rather than things. The experience frees a person from the activities that helps us materially “get ahead,” freeing us to spend intentional time with God and with family. While it’s not realistic for me to resolve to keep all the Shabbots in 2012, it is realistic for me to change my focus from material food to relationships.
Let go of emotion through tears rather than a binge.
I am emotional eater + I lost my mom this year = I overate. I wish I was one of those people who lost my appetite when emotional.
Think of food as fuel for the body rather than a reward.
I wonder how and why our culture started thinking of food as a prize, something we deserve because of…whatever. I’ll make a list of non-food rewards – things such as foot massages, shoes, and theater shows.
I also grab whatever food is around me. I’m not sure why. If food is fuel and I don’t need fuel, I don’t need to eat.
I’ll start with the kitchen. It’s more than just throwing out the “junk food” – I really don’t have that much. Expired items are taking room in my pantry. By de-cluttering, healthy items begin to look more attractive. I can’t explain the phenomenon, but I know it’s true. Then I’ll work on my closet and drawers.
So I’m offering a virtual toast: To a lighter body through a lighter life. Have a great one!
In what other ways can lighter lives equate to lighter bodies?