Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Squashing the scales

Have you ever heard of the term 'butt buddy'? Maybe, but not in the way I'm about to describe it. A number of years ago my good friend P and I, on an endorphin fueled breakfast during a health kick, came up with a hypothesis about people's weight. It goes like this.

The world's population carries a determined amount of weight. As one person loses weight, that weight rather than disappear shifts somewhere else, specifically to another person (usually to their butt). Hence that person is their butt buddy. We hypothesised everybody has one.

We also joke that he and I can't be feeling 'up' at the same time. If all in life is going well for me, he says 'uh oh, I'm going down' and vice versa.

You probably are wondering where this is all going? Both these ideas carry with them the concept of finiteness. If I lose the weight, someone else gets it. If I'm up, my friend has to be down. What it does not suppose that the excess weight just disappears or that we can both be feeling happy at the same time.

I had a lightbulb moment the other day when realised the how much I actually think like this. I have been doing a lot of research into and experimenting with my diet and exercise regimen lately. I've lost quite a bit of weight fairly easily by making adjustments. Someone who I feel is always in competition with me noticed the change and asked what I'd been doing. Rather than share the information I was deliberately vague about how I'd managed to do it.

Thinking about it later I realised that I felt that if I gave away my methods to this person, they would have the information and therefore I would no longer have it myself. In my head it was a simple equation. Either I had the information or she had it.

I realise you're probably reading this thinking it's totally crazy, that it's irrational. You'd be right. Of course we can both have the information - me giving it to her doesn't mean I can't continue to do what's been working for me. If she loses weight following my plan, it doesn't mean I put weight back on. Its possible we can both lose weight at the same time. The weight is not bounded. It was quite a revelation.

Reflection is a wonderful thing. I have been thinking now about how many other areas of my life I attached this crazy rule to, and have decided it's high time I let go of it and stop concerning myself with others and holding on to this belief system. Knowledge isn't the power, it's what you do with it that's important. And the process of gaining the knowledge about what works for my health through trial and error has been a really important part of the process. It's up to me to keep it up, and even encourage others to join me rather than try and prevent them from doing the same.

And next time I see my friend P and he's feeling chirpy about life, I'll remember what's going well for me and celebrate just how very lucky we both are.

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