Today’s goal: Lose 10 lbs by tomorrow morning

13 Mar

I’m sure I’m not the only one getting the spring wake-up call to lose a few of the pounds packed on during the grueling days of winter. Spring has a way of doing that — inspiring us to clean house, clear out closets, clean garden and shed the extra baggage around our tummies and hips. The other day, on my commute to work, I came upon an important yoga lesson that put the idea of spring cleaning and our nagging preoccupation with weight loss into a new perspective.

Along the highway, a billboard advertisement for a local restaurant promises “All you can eat for $6.99.” In fact, it might be $6.49, and either way, the idea seems ludicrous: That we would be enticed to gorge on food, not because we needed the nourishment or we were truly hungry, but because it would cost only a mere few dollars. That’s a bargain? Can food really be a bargain? Isn’t food meant to sustain us, recreate us? Shouldn’t food be sacred and not something to be reduced to bargain-basement prices.

I’ve been studying the yoga sutras and in particular the  yama aparigraha — which teaches greedlessness in all our actions. That means taking just what we need and can use — whether it’s food, clothing, possessions, even the Earth’s resources. Had I spent the winter observing aparigraha? I realized I had not. The extra pounds — the baggage leftover from having taken more than I needed — were proof.

Looking into my closet, I came to the same conclusion. Tucked away behind the sweaters and slacks I rotate week-in and week-out, I found items I hadn’t worn all winter. I don’t think I wore them last winter. But I remember hanging them up, promising myself to wear them, reluctant to pack them into the bag destined for Goodwill. They spent the winter unused, crowding my closet, denying their value to someone who might have truly needed them.

I plan to fold them neatly this evening and pack them into the Goodwill bag, which I set aside months ago but remained empty all winter. My daughter reminds me often that Ghandi said we should each have only 100 possessions. I break that number by a lot — and most of it is shtuff I don’t really use or, really, need.

As I continue down my yoga journey, I am making a commitment to honor myself whether I’m sitting down to meals or contemplating a shopping spree: Can I eat just enough to nourish my body and find contentment, and buy shoes only when the ones I have have holes in them? It’s difficult. We are so bombarded with messages of abundancy, we become greedy and lose sight of what we truly need. But I’m hopeful. It’s time to spring clean.

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