For the uninitiated the idea that “Washing the dishes,” can teach us anything about weight loss might seem a bit odd or at the very least far fetched but bear with me, because washing your dishes can teach you one of the fundamental aspects of successful long term weight loss.
For anyone from the world Mindfulness, the lesson of “washing the dishes” is probably one they have encountered before but for the uninitiated it goes like this. When you are washing your dishes you can be in one of two states. You can be washing the dishes, to get them done, so you can do something else, for example watching your favourite TV program or finally sitting down with that book you have been meaning to read. Or you can be washing the dishes to wash the dishes.
If you are washing the dishes just to get them done so you can go do something else, then the washing of the dishes becomes a chore. It is a burden. In fact it is a source of suffering that must be endured in order to go do the other thing you really want to do.
But here is the thing, one way or the other the dishes need to be done and you are going to have to do them, so why make it something to suffer. Why make it a chore?
When we wash the dishes to wash the dishes we are at peace with the task of washing the dishes. We are content for the time it takes because that time is not time wasted or time that has to be used up quickly just to go do some thing else, in other words time lost. That time becomes our time. Our time with the dishes, washing them. It becomes meaningful, relaxed, focused and peaceful. When the dishes are done we then go and do the other thing we had planned.
In both scenarios the dishes were done. In both scenarios we got to go do the other thing after the dishes were done. But in one scenario we suffered, we were probably frustrated, possible angry and felt we were losing time. In the other scenario we lost no time, we were at peace. We felt content and relaxed. So given a choice, which scenario would you chose to inhabit?
When it comes to changing our diets and our lifestyles to better our health or to lose weight the dilemma is exactly the same. People often see the new diet as a chore, a drain, a frustration and infringement, something to be suffered in order to reach a specif goal. Then, once that goal is reached (if you can suffer long enough and deep enough), you can throw off the shackles of the new diet, return to something far more closely resembling your old diet and…. guess what… regain the weight and the ill health. You return once more to the place you started from. So time has passed, which you may feel you have lost, you have suffered and you are still in the same place you where before you started. There is no sense to this approach.
Like washing the dishes, when it comes to health and weight loss it is much better to engage with the new diet and exercise plan just to engage with the new diet and exercise plan. Yes there is still a goal and yes you will still move towards it. But you will learn to enjoy the plan, to experience it fully and to find your way through it in a relaxed, effortless way. You will allow it to become your reality rather than an infringement to it. Writers write, builders build and lean healthy people live lean healthy lives. Now, doesn’t that sound a lot better than struggling and suffering.
It is worth mentioning that change can be hard at first and we must acknowledged this too. If you have lived a life that has led to an unhealthy diet and poor health and you have done so possibly for many years then that has become your norm. This reality has become a sort of order in your life and in that order you find comfort and familiarity. But when that comfort and order are slowly killing you it is time to change. Initially change comes into our world as a sort of chaos. We move from what we know to what we don’t. Breakfast, which used to be so easy has become a meal you have to think about and plan and this causes you friction and suffering. Exercise, particularly if you are unused to it, can cause frustration and suffering both mentally and physically. There is shopping to do, for foods you don’t normally buy. You have to think about what to eat when you are out and how to manage things if you are in an environment where you cannot control what food is available. There will be questions from friends and family and possibly expectations, either good or bad, from them too. Not to mention that you need to find time to fit all of this into your otherwise ordered and comfortable life.
But here is the funny thing, by embracing your new world, not fighting it; by engaging with it openly and with curiosity you will find that it quickly becomes ordered and comfortable. Start with the basics, do what you can, forgive yourself when you get it wrong either by mistake or due to frustration. Build upon your success’s and learn the new skills, habits and routines that will make it a success. As some times goes by and you look back your old way of doing things your old ways will start to look more and more like chaos and suffering and your new ways will offer order and comfort.
This is the fundamental difference between those who manage to change for only a short time and those that change for good. Long term changers have moved from a place where the new is chaos and suffering to a place where the new has become order and comfortable.
So why not start your journey today.