Semi-Zen Wisdom

© WavebreakmediaMicro -
© WavebreakmediaMicro –

Dispensed here, perfectly free, is the closest thing to a real insight I’ve come up with this week: Sometimes, living life to its fullest requires you to get comfortable with discomfort.

When I first started Weight Watchers, a couple of years back, wanting to finally lose the “baby weight” I’d gained, the hardest lesson I had to learn was that it was OK to sometimes feel a little bit hungry. When I stayed up late at night, long past the early dinner I’d eaten with the kids, I’d find myself craving something to make me feel full again.

“I can’t sleep on an empty stomach,” I said.

Then, at a meeting, someone broached this very topic. And she, a “lifetime member” who’d lost weight and kept it off, said this, “When I’m getting into bed and I feel the tiniest bit hungry, I smile. Because that means I did well that day: I used the energy I took in.”

It was, for me, one of those Oprah-esque “lightbulb” moments. Instead of feeling deprived (and totally entitled to that hunk of raw cookie dough because MY LIFE IS HARD), I decided that think, instead, of that no-longer-satiated feeling as successful. I could go to sleep, happy that this was a day that was getting me closer to my weight goal.

You know how, once you learn a new word, you start to hear it everywhere?

Well, I started finding this same principle in other places as well. Like when a yoga teacher would say that we should “stretch to the edge of your discomfort.”

It was great guidance: don’t hurt yourself, but do challenge yourself.

I embrace this, now, when adding distance to my runs, training for a race. I don’t want to work so hard that I’ll need days and days to recover, but I do want to push myself just a bit on each long run, so I get stronger and faster.

The newest application of this principle came to me this week, in conversation with a group of moms.

“Working full-time, with kids in elementary school …” one said, “How are we supposed to do it all?”

There were many answers, from the pragmatic — shop and cook on the weekends — to the philosophical — don’t try to do it all; let some stuff go. But my answer was simply this, “You just have to get used to the discomfort of it. You’re going to feel tired and frazzled and occasionally overwhelmed, but that’s all okay. You just feel it and acknowledge that it’s completely rational to feel it and then you move on.”
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