The Fruits of Mindless Living

I’ve gained 48 pounds since my dad died in October 2012. Nearly 50 pounds. Who gains that much weight in what feels like overnight? I suppose 48 pounds in 20 months isn’t overnight; it’s 2.4 pounds per month. A slow, steady, chew-and-swallow. Chew. And swallow. And let’s not forget the alcohol.

Before this morning, I hadn’t been on a scale since November. But of course I knew the pounds were piling on. I was going up in sizes, pulling my biggest jeans out of the back of the closet. Even they have become uncomfortable, and so lately I’ve taken to wearing formless dresses and stretchy skirts. And there’s my car seat. I can feel the sides of it hugging my hips and thighs. The same with my office chair. I am spreading out. And then there was the hike at Orcas Island a few weeks ago. I was huffing and puffing as we were going uphill. Huffing and puffing and sweating. It pissed me off. And I was embarrassed.

For the past several months, I’ve been trying to find a foothold. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get back to equanimity. How to find that sweet spot I was in before all the dying began. I’ve been trying, with little success, to get back to taking good care of myself. I take better care of my cats, in fact. Just this morning I steamed a lovely piece of fresh Atlantic salmon for them. I, in contrast, ate a slice of cherry pie with my coffee. Mind you, I told myself I’m working on making a shift, and so this was a last-supper slice of cherry pie. I’m terribly good at rationalization. Aren’t all addicts?

Oh, yes, this is addictive behavior. In fact, I’m seeing quite a bit of my mother in myself these days. She spent years dismayed by the alcoholism that surrounded her, never once looking at herself and seeing her own coping behavior, eating, was similarly self-destructive. I have, more than once over the past two years, felt anger with my brothers for how they killed themselves with alcohol. And I felt pity on them because they had never learned healthier ways of coping. But I, even having spent decades learning healthier ways of dealing with unpleasant events and emotions, am not coping much better than my brothers did.

It’s not like I lack self-awareness. Or desire. I’m trying. I just can’t seem to get myself going in the right direction again. I can’t get motivated to do consistent exercise. To cut back on the alcohol. And to stop eating everything I want. And I want a lot. How do I stop wanting what isn’t healthy, and start wanting what is?

I turned it into a research project. First, I set out to find the healthiest way of eating. I figured if I found it, I would be motivated to do it. I did my research and settled on the Mediterranean diet. And that might have helped, only I ate way too much of the Mediterranean diet. And I still wasn’t exercising consistently. So next I researched books on willpower. The books were not helpful. They espoused the same old advice that hadn’t been working for me. But there was one pearl of wisdom I kept bumping into: meditate.

I had a meditation practice several years back when I was heavy into yoga. But when I quit Kundalini yoga teacher training mid-course (having decided it was a cult), I threw the baby out with the bath water. No more meditation. No more yoga. Not even hatha. (I don’t do anything by halves, you see. A definite fault of mine.) So here we are, five years later, and all these books are pointing me back to meditation. Because I don’t have anything to lose, other than 50 pounds or so, I decided to give it a shot. I know my problem isn’t with eating, per se. My problem is with life. I needed something to help me cope with it. And, if I’m being ambitious, to help me find an interest in my existence here on this earth.

Just Breathe
Just Breathe

I’ve been doing a daily meditation practice for a little more than a month, now. At first my efforts were not consistent. But slowly I’ve begun to find some flow. As of today, I’ve got 14 consecutive days under my belt. (A belt that doesn’t fit.) I’ve found a terrific app called “Insight Timer.” You can program different timers, for varying lengths, with different chimes. You can do the offered guided meditations. (In addition to my mindfulness meditation, I’ve been doing a daily body scan.) You can join groups and connect with meditators all over the world. According to my app, there are 352 people meditating worldwide, right now. In addition to the app, I’ve started reading about mindfulness. I’m reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s, Full Catastrophe Living. I think I’ve finally hit upon the necessary tools to undergo a tectonic shift. Meditation. Mindfulness. And yeah, pulling the yoga out of the dirty bath water, as well. (Although I still won’t go near the Kundalini.)

I’ve been living mindlessly, sleepwalking, for 20 months now. 50 pounds was the result. What will be the fruits of mindfulness?


  • Lovely post. I liked being able to see your journey and your awareness. 50 pounds is nothing in the face of understanding and compassion for yourself. If these pounds have inspired you to meditate again and to notice and care for yourself, then these 50 pounds will be a significant transformative factor in your life.


  • If you gained 2.4 pounds per month, then set your goal at losing at that same rate. Don’t feel you have to loose 48 pounds immediately. Give yourself a chance to learn new habits and shop carefully to have the right foods in the house. If you lose more, then good, but be careful to not get on a yo yo with fast gains and loses. Good luck to you. I need to lose too and of course I blame stress of caregiving, but I know I can do it if I remember to just stay the course and lose a couple of pounds per month.


    • Thank you. You are so right about staying calm and giving myself time do undo the results of the past 20 months. Stress is a killer. While I knew this, JKZ’s book is really bringing that point home. We can do it!


  • Meditation and yoga will help lift the weight of life’s stresses and problems. It should help to allow to find way to center your mind and wake up the desire to focus on you.

    It took time to realize the gain,it will take time to lose the gain. You can do it!


  • Hi there, your post touched me deeply, I relate to it nearly every line : alcoholism, your mum coping by eating, eating not being the problem, the hard time to get to exercise again, the huffing and puffing… My 5 years experience ended with me reaching an all time high with weight after gaining between 30 and 40 kilos on an already overweight frame. I released already some and just started running again and yes meditation is the way to go to see the walls fall, let the love for self come in and lowly detach from the need to eat. You will get there !


    • Ah, so you know. Fantastic you’re getting back to running. Meditation is just what I needed. Today will be 20 consecutive days, and already I’m seeing great benefits. I’m feeling less scattered, less stressed, and I’m sleeping a bit better. And finally I’m finding the motivation to move again, and eat/drink less. I’d gotten so out of kilter. It’s nice to be finding my way back.


  • shanti, shanti, shanti om…
    we all have been there, what ever our particular ‘there’ is
    and it does take a bit of re-starting to get us back on what’s right for us
    just start over, from where you are, at any given moment
    while I have a priority for my physical yoga practice I do not have the same priority for my meditation and mantras
    I even have ‘forgotten’ the new (for me) goddess Lakshmi, as I go about my daily life that NOW doesn’t have as much troubles/trauma as before I started HER


    • I love the idea of starting over from where I am, Gert. Which is something we can do every day. Every moment. I googled Lakshmi. She’s lovely. The goddess of wealth and prosperity. Meditation, walking. But I’m still missing the yoga. I am moving toward it.


  • oh gosh my comment got away from me…
    I was saying
    before I started HER mantra and SHE came through for me, by setting things in motion to ‘clear’ the negative vibs that were in my life
    I must get back to my daily mantra to HER
    point is…start over
    and start over again,
    and start over again,
    stay with it.


  • I feel your pain (or at least the pain you were feeling two months ago). I am currently at the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I could honestly stand to lose about 80 or 90 pounds if I want to be even close to “fit and trim” again. Eating compulsively is truly like a drug to someone with at least a modicum of depression and who is constantly living the tail end of their life “in their head.” I KNOW what I SHOULD be eating… and I KNOW how to exercise… but eating that pizza and ice cream while filling my head with someone else’s version of life, or fantasy (i.e. TV shows and movies) while my own slips by day after day is so much easier. I keep telling myself that I’ll get in better shape “soon”… “one of these days”… but my mind is apparently in denial about the fact that we only get one shot at this thing called life.

    So… it’s been two months since your post… how are things coming along with regards to any goals you may have made as a result of this post?


    • I am so pleased to see you, BlueViking! But I’m sorry you are feeling my pain. It’s so frustrating how we can get into a super little groove, and then find ourselves face down in the ditch with no idea how we started on the trajectory that deposited us there. I’m still slogging along, and have gotten a little better. Meditation helps immensely. Before my recent trip to Canada, I was even getting up in the morning and walking before work, before it was 100+ degrees. I was closing in on a 10-pound loss, and then fell off a bit since my trip and haven’t gotten back to the morning walking. I’ve decided I don’t want to focus on the scale so much, but rather on healthy living. The scale can land where it will, as long as I’m treating myself well. I am back to my daily meditation practice, and I’ve substituted hot tea for alcohol. Two great helpers. I still love tv, though. My current favorite is The Fall. (I’m making my way through the various UK series on Netflix: Wallander, Happy Valley. Oh, and a Danish remake, The Killing.)

      As for getting one shot at this thing called life: I’m struggling mightily with the thought of that. I keep having fantasies of walking out on the practice of law. Sometimes they are very hard to keep in check. So I keep blogging, hoping to find my way through writing.

      Again, I’m so glad to see you again. Welcome back. 🙂


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