“But what if I drink two gallons of water a day?” I asked my trainer years ago. I was particularly heavy then (I lived above a donut shop for twenty-six pounds) and was looking for something. – anything – that could get me stick thin quick and painlessly.
“No,” he replied.
“Why not?” I demanded. “Surely hydration matters!”
‘It does, but-“
“Also I’ve read that eating high-fat food can help. Like that I can have chunks of butter in my morning coffee, eat only meat and get abs.”
“Thats Keto,” he replied, wearily checking his watch. “But again. If you want to lose weight, you just have to-“
“Do pilates, I know,” I finished for him. “But who has the time? And the last time I my heel slipped and I went into involuntary splits that didn’t allow me to close my legs for six months.”
“No, I meant-”
“Apparently green tea really helps,” I went on undeterred. “Especially if I put in a pinch of salt, Google says I can drop two pounds a week without even trying, but the trick is you have to have it within ten minutes of eating otherwise…”
I can see the trainger now, exasperatedly shaking me by the shoulders while screaming: “The only way to lose weight is to eat less than you burn! IT’S NOT COMPLICATED!”
We stared at each other.
“A thin crust pizza is basically a salad,” was not what he wanted to hear.
He was right, though. There is no secret to how most things work. If you want to lose weight, you eat less calories and exercise more. I know that it may not be complicated, but it sure ain’t easy to do. The words “Just Eat Less” don’t do much when I staring at a carrot cake in the fridge, rationalizing that vegetable based cakes must be healthier in some arcane way despite knowing that these are the moments that make love handles.
But knowing that doesn’t make that truth more pleasant, no more than being told for twenty years that meditating every day can do wonders for your mental well-being. Every book, article or online guru I came across always ended on the same topic: the power of quieting our minds. But sitting by myself in a room with my mind was literally a vision of my Hell. So I told myself it was just a new-age fad and never really dit it, outside of the last ten minutes of a Yoga class. Since the Pandemic began and the ways to entertain myself dwindled down to reruns of Three’s Company, I gave meditating a real shot. Its gotta be better than sitting down and doing nothing…
We stared at each other. “A thin crust pizza is basically a salad,” was not what he wanted to hear.
For the first couple of weeks I couldn’t stay still longer than a few minutes before my eyes dart open to glance at my phone or check to see if someone was waiting to stab me. I realized it was silly to do this without some kind of remedial training, so I found a bunch of Youtube guided mediation vidoes and went off. Like any habit, the more effort I made, the easier it got. By summer’s end, I was able to stay still for over 45 minutes, which is a lot of time to spend with the voices in my head. I noticed the changes gradually. My inner monologue became kinder, I was less prone to anger, and generally the distance between my emotions and my awareness of them increased. Meditation teaches that you are not your thoughts. It’s an infuriatingly simple lesson. Like exercise, meditation only really helps as long as you keep doing it with commitment. Skip a day or two and things are fine, but skip six months and you’ll be having dreams of marrying a box of anti-depressants.
I’ve kept it up for the past few months in Lahore, and even if it meant deep breathing lungfuls of smoke and dust, it’s rescued me from a state of mind in which everything turns into a reaction
I’ve kept it up for the past few months in Lahore, and even if it meant deep breathing lungfuls of smoke and dust, it’s rescued me from a state of mind in which everything turns into a reaction. Why, just this week I was in the garden sunning myself in the smog I saw a white goat peek his head in through my home’s open gate. Busy as I was, trying to conjure the delusion that I was sitting on a Grecian beach and not stalked by wildlife under a bridge like a mythic troll, I tried to ignore him. But he stood, chewing absentmindedly without breaking eye contact. I took a chakra cleaning breath and went back to picturing the beach. When I opened my eyes again there were four more goats in my garden and six fewer plants.
Ordinarily I would have flown to my neighbors on a broomstick to demand they send me a curry made with the bones of all the animals, but I realized there are worse things to waking up from a garden mediation surrounded my gleaming white farm animals. What those things are, I don’t know, but I am sure they are out there somewhere. In the meantime I’ll breathe deeply, and try not to roll my third eye as I think of peaceful things.
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