As I perused the library’s graphic novel section for more fantasy fiction, I came across an unexpected book entitled One Year Wiser: An Illustrated Guide to Mindfulness by Mike Medaglia. I picked it up and flipped through the pages to see if I was interested. Indeed, I was. I was on the brink of beginning my journey back to health and vitality and was ready to attack a longstanding bad habit that had infested my life for many years…food addiction. Last week, I wrote about My battle with food addiction, and since then, I’ve been trying to center my thoughts and be less distracted. Lo and behold, I find the perfect book about mindfulness (see how the universe works). Mindfulness, as defined by the author, as “the practice of training our minds to stay focused and concentrated on the present moment.” By staying mindful, you allow yourself to experience life as it’s currently happening.
I constantly get lost in my own head; my thoughts swimming, swirling, spinning around my mind. I found that many of my issues with food addiction comes from this lack of focus on the present moment. When I begin to lament over mistakes I’ve made in the past, or when I begin to daydream incessantly about the future, I often snap myself out of it and go immediately to the kitchen. Food becomes my stress reliever in those moments. Temporarily allowing me to lose myself in the taste, in the chewing, in the distraction of it all. I’ve been choosing to distract myself with food for years, unknowingly of course, instead of facing my pain and fears head on. But through reading this book I’ve learned that through mindfulness, I can learn to confront the challenging moments of my life and move past them. Moments that may be seem uncomfortable and overwhelming seem to fade when I center myself and bring my mind back to the present. I can just exist as I am today; not the me in the past who made mistakes and missed opportunities, or the future me who is wise, smart, and well put together. When I bring my mind back to the present, I’m able to focus on the birds chirping, the cool soft touch of a spring breeze, the blue hue of the sky, and watch adoringly as the leaves on the trees move as if they have their own personality and yet one common mission among them. In the present, I’m not judging myself or lost in thought. I’m just observing and breathing. In these moments, I feel less tempted to pursue outside stimulation.
As humans, we have been taught to distract ourselves with a variety of stimuli. Television, internet, social media, smart phones, and of course food. With no moments of quiet stillness, we’re losing ourselves in our daily addictions: the never-ending Facebook scroll, the countless hours of court tv or Youtube, the entire box of Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Crème Pies.
Some of us are okay with our addictions, choosing to enjoy whatever luxury they provide regardless of the cost. But for me, being addicted to food has always been a burden. Being 40 pounds overweight is in direct contradiction to my values. I’m a person who likes to motivate people to be healthier. I’m a vegetarian, I juice regularly, I drink apple cider vinegar daily, I drink mostly water; all things that would depict the health conscience person that I am. I’m very good at maintaining my weight. But I need to lose weight. One, because while I might have good daily habits, being 40 pounds overweight still puts me at risk for cardiovascular diseases. Two, if health truly is a priority for me, then I should do everything it takes to live a healthy life. Lastly, how can I inspire others to be healthy, if I don’t look the part. People are far more inspired by results than words. And even though I know all these things, I still choose to eat less than healthy foods on too regular of a basis. So, while my healthy choices help me to balance out the poor choices, it’s not enough. I need to do more. If food continues to be a comfort to me during stressful times or a joy to me during times of celebration, I know I’ll continue to abuse food and remain overweight. So, rather than focus on the food itself, I want to focus on my behavior regarding food.
Practicing mindfulness, living in the present is a mental and behavioral shift that can help us to stop moving from one distraction to another, as the author of One Year Wiser suggests, and begin experiencing true happiness, which is within us. We tend to look for happiness in external places, such as our vices or addictions. But “true happiness doesn’t rely on any external factors…Instead we arrive at happiness as the result of mindful living, gratitude, and beneficial activities,” says Medaglia. I’ve already begun my mindfulness training, and it’s tough, but in those moments, I truly feel a difference; calmer, more peaceful, more blessed. If you’re dealing with addictions and distractions that are keeping you from living your best life, I invite you to start your own journey into mindfulness. If you are new to the idea of living mindfully, read One Year Wiser: An Illustrated Guide to Mindfulness by Mike Medaglia. It’s a short read, with pretty illustrations, and a wealth of information that will incite you to think more deeply about your own views and behaviors. I’m rereading it now for a second time, just so I can thoroughly soak up the wisdom. Ladies and gentlemen, get into it.
Until Next Time,