A Compartmentalized Life Is Fattening

March 7, 2013 at 2:20 PM

“How do you integrate weight loss goals with your everyday lifestyle? You are not going to like the answer.”

 

Billy Graham calls it spiritual schizophrenia; the bible calls it double mindedness, or a divided heart, and you do it without even knowing it. The symptoms can be as simple as an inability to lose weight or much more devastating. I see it in my own life all the time, which is why my 2013 year’s resolution is to live an integrated life. Read

 So why is a compartmentalized life fattening? Picture this. It’s the morning of January 1, 2013, you get out of the shower, stand in front of the mirror dripping wet, naked as a newborn. Instead of instinctively sucking it in or flexing, you relax and get real. Years of fat hang there like a personal affront to self-image. In that moment of despair you make a promise to yourself. “I’m sick of how I feel. Starting today, I’m going on a diet. I’m going to get my teenage body and health back again.”  You’re angry at yourself—you mean business. Resolve and determination wake up inside; there is a sense of the importance of this moment. To solidify the decision, you write it down, hang it on your fridge, tell your friends, and throw away the half eaten bag of chips and tub of ice cream in the freezer. Game-face is on—this is exciting! 2013 is the year when everything changes. 

Monday morning comes, and off to work you go. By the end of the long day, you’re tired and blue. During the drive home, that familiar feeling of emptiness comes visiting like an old friend. You feel trapped by the list of things that still have to be done before bedtime. Life gets that mechanical feeling. Without thinking, your mind searches for something you can look forward to, something just for you.  The emotional go-to has always been munchy food. I’ll pick up a treat for later tonight. Bam! You instantly feel better. The to-do list feels doable. Then you remember. Dam!  I’m on this stupid diet. Come on, it’s been a crazy day, I will start tomorrow. Seriously, I will. 

Let’s step behind the scene of this little emotional drama and watch what’s going on. The person in front of the mirror is a different you then the you driving home after a long day’s work. They are two well-developed personalities and they are at war with each other. The one in the mirror is the thoughtful, spiritual you, earnestly desiring to be true to the goals and dreams God has planted within. It’s the you that shows up at night when you are trying to sleep, or on those weekend spiritual retreats. It’s the you that says I need to slow life down, spend more time reading and in prayer—live a simpler life. But then there is the other you. This is the personality you live in most of your waking time. It’s the practical, get things done you. It’s the busy, do things without thinking you. Just get through the day you. Knee-jerk reaction, hand to mouth you. 

Think of today’s mental disorders that plague people today. Obsessive Compulsive. You obsess about your weight all day long to the point of exhaustion, and at the end of the night you compulsively pig out to escape the jail of obsession. Been there! Manic Depressive. In one state you can conquer the world, and in the other state you cannot conquer a butter tart. Been there too! 


So here’s the big question. How do you integrate your life, becoming a single-minded, whole person? How do you integrate weight loss goals with your everyday eating lifestyle? You are not going to like the answer.  We see compartmentalization depicted in its extreme during the notorious The Godfather scene when the hit man says, “it’s just business, nothing personal” before blowing the guy away. And then attends Mass on Sunday. Don’t be shocked, we all compartmentalize our lives like this to some degree. And just like The Godfather movie, some can romanticize a compartmentalized life, thinking, for example, that if business practises could be unfettered from Christian scruples, then you could enjoy greater success. But watch the movie to the finish—the final end of a compartmentalized life will not only end in sorrow for you, but those you love. A men’s secret porn addiction at war with his desire to be true to his wife. The busyness of work at war with the desire to spend more time with the kids. Spending habits at war with the desire to reduce credit card bills. A compartmentalized life is even worse for the Christian, especially if their lifestyle is constantly sabotaging the God given vision planted within. This kind of life can only result in profound frustration, spiritual exhaustion and finally, loss of faith. 

First of all, you are going to have to slow your life enough to become more conscious of what you are doing. This can be remarkably hard to do. Losing weight takes more than just a killer diet program; it takes thought and self-honesty. Many programs force you to start keeping a journal of everything you eat; this makes a lot of sense. I have talked to people who have done this for the first time, and they are amazed at how much they were shoveling into their mouths. The same can apply to keeping track of how much money you are spending every day, instead of waiting for the dreaded credit card bills to arrive in the mail. The point is, most of our day is so busy that we become unconscious of what we are eating and spending. Unconscious of what we are doing! That’s a dangerous place to be. Intentions and dreams may be good, but if you are a slave to a crazy lifestyle that does not allow for contemplation and prayerful thought, then you will face a great deal of anxiety and failure, all crashing in on you when you finally slow down enough to think—like at night when you are trying to sleep.

Slowing your life down sounds easy, but actually it is a complicated business. I want to talk more about it in my next blog. If you want the perfect book to read on how to slow down and live more deliberately, then read Fasting To Freedom. Fasting is the perfect antidote for a lifestyle that has spun out of control, with the added benefit of detoxification and weight loss. 

 

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