Getting skinny will solve all our problems, right? We will be unconditionally loved by all, be able to run marathons in under three hours and, of course, be able to wear bikinis and heels to any occasion, including black tie events. As one does. At least that’s what all the diet ads say. But a new study says that not only does losing weight not make people happier, it can actually increase their risk of depression two fold.
Well this is uncomfortable. Confession: Even though I no longer diet or exercise with weight loss as a goal and I eat intuitively and exercise gently and I love and accept my body way more than I ever have in my entire life — even with all that, I still believe with all my heart that if I weighed 15 pounds less I’d be happier. I hate that thought still lives in my brain. I don’t act on it but it’s still definitely there.
“You see my happy shirt?” The little girl’s insistent face pressed nearly up to mine before I noticed her, so enthralled I was with the book I was reading tonight at the library. Truth to be told I didn’t notice her shirt at all, at first, but rather her halo of little cornrow braids with various candy wrappers expertly tied in so that she looked just like a rainbow of Skittles. So I smiled. What other option did I have?
Proudly she unzipped her jacked and puffed out her twee chest, her toddler breath puffing into my face, reminding me that I still had a shirt to admire. The shirt in question was hot pink with a large smiley face emblazoned on it in black glitter. Her own broad grin echoed that of her shirt. “Well that is the happiest shirt I have ever seen!” I exclaimed both acknowledging and dismissing her in a single breath. Heaven knows I have enough insistent little faces to deal with in my life and for once they were busily reading their own books (which in Jelly Bean’s case entailed putting all the toddler board books into her tiny grocery cart and proclaiming “It’s on sale!” with each new find – wherever would she have got that from??) so would anyone begrudge me my ten minutes of peace?
Face down on my yoga mat is my least favorite position. Mostly because I never remember to wash the thing and it does a really good job as a “sticky mat” as evidenced by all the little flakes of my skin all over it. (Side note: If I ever go missing, use my yoga mat for DNA evidence. It’s a gold mine.) As I lay there, I felt the heaviness on my chest — and not just the weight of my body pressing down on it. Sometimes with a heart break, it feels like my heart is literally breaking. My chest was so tight I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My shoulders ached from tensing up. My stomach churned with worry. I hate feeling like that but the more I try to push it away, the heavier all those feelings get.
So I’ll admit it: I wasn’t really paying attention to my yoga teacher. I was too much in my own head. And also I was really digging the music she was playing. (She loves neo-gospel and hip hop; not your traditional namaste birds chirping but I gotta say there is something so satisfying about flowing to Bottom of the River.) Then something penetrated my mental fog. “Lift up your eyes first and then raise your arms and legs,” she was saying. Eh, I thought, I’ve done Locust Pose a hundred times. I don’t need directions. But then she added, “You have to look up to lift up.”