I can’t really blame my wife for suggesting that we could do a “bone broth” diet together. She was just proposing a solution to a shared issue (belly fat), not delivering a judgement. So, she isn’t responsible for how I reacted to the phrases: “belly like a shelf” and “massive”. It’s entirely on me that those words lodged themselves in my mind, like barnacles on a whale.
The question I’m asking myself now is how I managed to avoid noticing that my midsection has been evolving for months. Have I been drawing my stomach in while brushing my teeth, anticipating that my eyes might glance into the mirror at any moment– and then the truth would be revealed? Do I have a reflex operating beneath the level of conscious intention that allows me to deny the evidence of reality?
Now that the cat is out of the bag—or rather now that the seal has jumped through the hoop—I’ve decided that I’m not ready to saddle myself to a special diet just because it promises to dissolve unwanted weight. Instead, I plan to pursue a strategy of consuming “smaller portions”. I’ll trust myself to respond intelligently to a self-image that has crept in on cat’s feet and is sticking around days later.
Living with the vague intention to load my plate more lightly, I’m discovering that the image of myself as a seal doesn’t really have the power to sustain moderation as day stretches into evening. And when I succumb and pour a bowl of cereal before bed, I find myself admiring the practical perfection of a seal’s body. I imagine the thrill of diving off a shelf of ice into the cold Antarctic waters, and how an extra layer of blubber gives him the buoyancy to slice through waves, while staying warm inside his skin.
Imagine coming back as a seal, into an embodiment in which each fish is more valuable than having a compact shape as one skims through the sea.
As for smaller portions in this lifetime, will they really affect my midsection? Don’t I need more calories to combat the advances of spindly-arm and shrinking-brain syndromes? There must be a good reason for me wanting generous portions. Why would nature provide empty-belly sensations if they weren’t reminding me that it’s time to eat?
Surely, I just need to be more mindful about what I put in my mouth. As the I Ching counsels, I need to be aware of what I put in my mouth and also what comes out of it. Now, I should probably take the latter advice and finish up with my intentions and plans.
When I eat breakfast in an hour, I hope I can remember to mindfully chew one mouthful at a time, before my spoon is dive bombing in for another mouthful. Even a seal at the zoo sometimes lets a fish fly on by without reflexively leaping after it.