It's a strange business losing weight. Without appearing to trivialise or lessen the impact of severe eating disorders, I think I've learnt something over the last few months that helps me understand what some people go through. I never quite understood how a painfully thin person could look at themselves in the mirror and see a fat person staring back. I do now. Okay, so nowhere near as severe a distortion, but the truth is that even though I've lost a lot of weight I still see more or less the same person in the mirror. I know I'm thinner. I've gone from a 48in jacket to a 42 and a 40in waist pair of jeans to a 34in waist. When I look down I can see a fairly flat profile.
All very encouraging. I know these things, but what I see in the mirror remains distorted. The disturbing thing is that I actually don't feel any lighter or thinner. Occasionally I catch sight of myself and realise how much I've changed, but most of the time I'm unaware. Body image is such a subtle thing.
So I have to learn to see myself honestly. Perhaps that's part of the reason we put on weight in the first place, we don't pay attention to our increasing weight and we don't pay attention to our changing size and shape. I know someone who maintained for years that the clothes makers were making them smaller as they slowly added more weight.
Lessons too for our spiritual journeys. The keys to succeeding in losing the weight and maintaining a healthy weight will remain discipline, monitoring and honesty (accountability) about what I eat. The same is true for my spiritual development. I have to commit to a disciplined pattern, be accountable and honest with myself and before God. My journal helps me do these things, and as the new year approaches I ought to make a commitment to use my journal more thoughtfully than ever.
Here's to 2011 as a year of celebrating a successful weight loss programme, getting fitter, playing more tennis, and becoming a better follower of Jesus Christ than I've managed this year.