I’m reading a lovely book called The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size. It’s by Julia Cameron (author of my favorite creativity book, The Artist’s Way), who noticed in her 25 years of teaching that people often lost weight when using her tools for “creative recovery.” In addition to her standard creativity tools, Writing Diet presents a number of new tools aimed at weight loss. Really, they are all mindfulness practices: journaling, checking in with one’s emotions before eating something, that kind of thing. It all seems like good solid advice for both losing weight and finding more time to be creative and present with my life (that’s why this entry is going into this blog instead of the other one!).
I’ve been making my way steadily through this book today, doing all the exercises, getting out for a super-quick walk between bouts of rain, cooking, and so on. But now I’ve hit a snag. Julia Cameron says I have to find a “Body Buddy,” someone with whom I check in daily about how things are going. The Body Buddy is a combination cheerleader, accountability partner, and compassionate friend. The exercise for this chapter was to write down what I’m looking for in my buddy, and I almost skipped this step because I’m so reluctant to do this. I really, really don’t want a Body Buddy.
First, I don’t like asking for help. I went through years of school hardly ever raising my hand, and I’d always rather do things on my own than team up with someone else. Partly I think my parents raised me this way, and probably I’m just kind of that way naturally. It just always seems like I ought to do things on my own. So it goes totally against the grain for me to find a partner for this project, and for me to post publicly about wanting one is already pretty scary.
Second — I hate to be so completely cliché — I don’t want to admit that I have a problem. Yes, I eat a lot more than I should, and depending what reference you consult, I’m somewhere between 20 and 50 pounds overweight, but so what? I can quit anytime if I really want to… it’s not a really serious problem, not like some people… blah, blah, blah, insert any timeworn addict’s dodge you like. Seriously, 20-50 pounds overweight? That is a problem. I do believe I’ve made big strides toward a healthier lifestyle in the last few years, and I really do love myself and think I’m beautiful, but the fact remains: I’m carrying around a lot of extra weight that I would be better off without, and it shows no signs of going away on its own. I can’t get away from that.
Third, in spite of all my open-and-upfront entries about eating, I’m actually kind of defensive about my eating habits if you really put me on the spot. Certain members of my family take a total food-police attitude toward eating, so whenever anyone questions what I’m eating or how much I’m eating, it makes me feel like a cornered cat (or teenager). If I’m going to have a Body Buddy, I need this to be someone who (a) isn’t in my family, (b) doesn’t remind me of anyone in my family, and (c) treats me like a grown-up the entire time. This is what I’m terrified will happen: a friend will become my Body Buddy, the friend will say something I interpret as critical, I will hold a grudge against that person for the rest of our lives, and I will lose a friend.
Fourth, I can’t think who to ask to be my Buddy. At this point Erik has seen so much of my habits that he hardly qualifies as a fresh pair of eyes. Nearly all my female friends are also looking to lose weight, and I’m not sure if I feel like being someone else’s Body Buddy at the moment (selfish, but there you have it). Also, everyone is so busy, I don’t want to put any more pressure on anyone by asking them to do this for me.
So… I’m putting Julia Cameron’s philosophy to the test: if you really want something, put your request out there and the universe will provide. This is my missive to the listening universe. Universe, I am officially looking for a Body Buddy. Have you got one for me?
Who would my ideal Buddy be?
- Someone whose judgment I trust and who feels the way I do about natural, sustainable foods (or who at least understands that perspective).
- Someone with great caring and compassion. Someone who will treat me like a grown-up, and never make me feel like my eating choices are a reflection of my intellect or my maturity.
- Someone who has time and is willing to check in with me every day about what I’ve been eating. This might not take more than a few minutes, I don’t know. I’d prefer to do this via email, but I’d also like my buddy to be reachable by phone if I need to talk. I’m guessing I will do Cameron’s writing diet for at least three months, but frankly, I really haven’t thought about time frame.
- Someone I don’t currently eat with, because having my accountability partner be present at the table would really mess with my “I don’t like to be put on the spot about my eating choices” button.
- Not a family member, not a colleague. Maybe a friend, maybe an acquaintance, maybe a total stranger.
- Maybe not someone who’s currently trying to lose weight too. I’m not 100% sure on this one.
- Someone who’s willing to help me out with something I’ve struggled with for many years, who’s prepared to watch me launch a really fresh start for the first time in years, and who will gracefully accept my eternal gratitude if this works!!!
As I say, I’m at a total loss as to who this Body Buddy might be, but I’m hoping it might be you. 🙂 I know I haven’t made this sound like an easy task, and I’m guessing that’s accurate… I don’t expect losing weight to be easy for me, and it might not be easy for my Buddy either. But then again, it might, and how wonderful would that be? Please let me know if you’re at all interested in taking this journey with me. And if you’re not, I understand, and welcome you as a spectator. 🙂 As they say on Bravo, watch what happens!
Okay, I’ll preface this by saying that my feelings won’t be hurt if you think I might not be the best friend for the job, but I am officially offering up my Body Buddy services. I’ve actually gone through a similar process with a friend and a family member, both of who were trying to shed different habits, but they went about it in a very similar way.
I’m horrible about phone calls, between my forgetfulness in leaving my phone on silent in a bag, in the car, etc. and my crazy work schedule, but, as you know all too well, I’m readily available by email unless I’m at a show.
Hee. I feel like I’m interviewing for a job. At any rate, I’m willing to check in daily, and however much support/advice you’re looking for, I’m willing to figure out a “program” that works. I’m also not trying to lose weight at the moment, although I’m always looking for ways to incorporate more physical activity and healthy eating habits into my daily routine, so if it helps you decide one way or the other, there’s that bit of info.
i’ll do it if you like! I think I qualify for most of your bullet points, if not all. (I’m even a female who has gained bad weight in the past & successfully lost it later… so I’m not looking to lose any weight currently)
(also I’m posting this thru my phone so hopefully it works… albeit ghetto-ly)
Aw no family? 😉 Understood.
So here’s my take on it since I can’t be your buddy. 🙂 This is based off certain assumptions about both you and Erik and I’m sort of thinking about me and Devin while I say this.
I don’t think that it couldn’t be Erik. Why do you need somebody with a fresh set of eyes? Of course this would require Erik to step up and be a little more proactive himself but no one knows your eating habits better than he does and he will always be there to help you. (Again, assumption that you think somewhat like me… ) You won’t resent him (long term) and you’ll listen to his input because he is your partner for life and love and you respect his thoughts and opinions. He fits all of your bullet points except 4 & 5. #4 shouldn’t be an issue because he sees what you eat every day and has for years. Plus, he eats a lot of the same things you do. If anything, you should feel more comfortable admitting to him that you ate that thing that you shouldn’t have because at the end of the day, you know that he loves you any way that you are.
It’s not that you’re going on any extreme diet or anything that would require him to be a food nazi (“no carbs for you!!”) but it should be something more subtle. Maybe something as small as reminding you to stop and think about how your stomach feels before you get the second helping of dinner. Maybe I’m wrong but it seems that you have been gradually moving towards this healthier lifestyle and it’s just natural that eating & diet should need an overhaul also. Since it’s a lifestyle change, it has to include Erik’s input. I mean, what better way to make sure that this change will last and be enjoyable than to learn and grow together? Think about going to Bridges together! That’s really something fun and healthy that you two incorporated into your lifestyle together!
Okay that’s just what I feel. Of course you and Erik are not me and Devin but over our almost 6 years together, we’ve turned into each others consciences to some extent. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad thing but when I’m at the grocery store by myself, I don’t buy the ice cream because I think about how Devin would remind me that I had complained earlier about my jeans being tighter and that ice cream would not help (tasty as it would be). And according to Devin, it happens to him too. He stops by the frozen pizzas and thinks of me telling him how terrible these kinds of foods are for him. So it isn’t that we tell each other “don’t eat that”. We just remind each other of what we already know so that we can stop and think and ultimately make our own choices (hopefully good choices, but we’re human so they won’t always be 🙂 ).
wow sarah!!! i’m so impressed that you and devin are able to help each other out that way. i *totally* think it’s a personality thing. in the past, if sean’s trying to achieve some goal (exercise more, go to bed earlier, whatever), and i remind him of it when he’s not doing it, he’s totally fine with it. BUT if he tries (“hm you should start looking into jobs soon,” even if i’m the one who brought it up in the first place), i instantly revert to “teenager” and snap back “i KNOW.” especially when i was trying to lose weight, i was SUPER defensive about anything i ate, because my mom would sit there and be like “you REALLY don’t need to eat that” and i’d get offended and resentful and be like “NO i’m going to eat the WHOLE THING.” hahaha i realize just how childish that whole paragraph makes me, but at least i’m able to recognize it, i suppose!! 😛
but yea, i can see how the resent thing is a big factor in not wanting your “body buddy” to be your partner or even someone you have history with (family member, close friend)… it’s just too loaded!! but again, it’s a personality thing, i think.
Argh. I posted my offer yesterday…but it looks like it didn’t actually work. *sigh* I’m too lazy to retype everything, but suffice it to say that I’m here if the position hasn’t been filled already. 😉
Aw, thank you, Tamara!!! I really appreciate that. 🙂 My friend Sabrina emailed me almost immediately after I posted this entry, so I think she’s going to be my Body Buddy, but I’m so grateful to you for offering. 🙂 And I totally know what you mean about snapping at people who try to help us, but not in the way we want. I’m awful toward my mom when she gives me advice, and sometimes it even rubs off on the way I treat Erik because he’ll say something that reminds me of my parents. Ha, your “childish” response to your mom’s comments is really familiar to me. 🙂 There are a lot of times when she says things and I instantly want to go do the opposite, just to show her! What babies we all are sometimes. 🙂
Shra, I really do think Erik would be a good Body Buddy, and you’re right, there’s much to be said for how well he knows me and how intimately he’s tied into my lifestyle. But another big reason I didn’t want to ask him — besides what I wrote in the entry — is that he is already really busy (not just the apps… I’ll email you) and I didn’t want to add anything else to his to-do list. He hears all my whines and annoying self-overanalyzing already, it just didn’t seem fair to ask him to take this on too. Like… “hey, I know you already hear me rant about everything else in my life, but do you want to get together every night and scrutinize the minutiae of my eating habits?” Of course if I asked him he’d say yes, so I didn’t want to even go there. A fresh set of eyes will do me good, and he’ll have to hear about all this anyway, so I might as well spare him the obligation of being my official buddy too. ;b
I’m glad you and Devin are so supportive of each other though 😀 Yay for partnership!
Thank you again for offering, Mo! 🙂 I hope this is the last time WordPress eats your comments… 😐