The Serenity prayer is well known to anyone in a 12-step program and most of us can repeat it, or at least this much of it.
- God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
- courage to change the things I can,
- and the wisdom to know the difference.
I’ve been thinking about these words and how they relate to me and where I am now with my weight loss journey. It’s a lot easier to say them than to actually live them.
The number of things I cannot change body-wise really aren’t that many but they’re there. I’m short. My knees have limited mobility and damage from arthritis, meniscus tears and ruptured ligaments. I am almost 53 and not getting younger. I’ve lived with irritable bowel syndrome for 25 years. Although I can control most of it by watching what I eat, it often flares up without notice. I have to eat to live.
Changeable things include almost everything: relationships, eating, exercise, where I live, managing money, managing time, fun activities, learning stuff, travel, controlling clutter. I complain about most of them more often than not – no time, too many things to do. It’s a lot easier to wish things were different, that I’d win the lottery or magically find myself coming home from the gym without the step of going first.
Changing them, most of them, won’t take a lot of courage, just a decision to do something different. Others require core change that does take courage. Picking up and moving to a new state and new job takes courage. Taking the courageous step to go to a Weight Watchers or OA meeting for the first time – or even going to a routine meeting after going on a binge. Facing the fact that things I think are unchangeable actually CAN be changed if I have enough courage to deal with them.
Being fat is not an unchangeable condition. Some people will deal with it by taking the courageous step of having major surgery. Others will deal with it by having the courage to recognize their lifestyle is not immutable and can be changed with many many small steps strung together.
It takes courage to stay with it over time. Waving a wand over a body would be a lot simpler but it doesn’t work like that and it shouldn’t. If I didn’t work at this, it wouldn’t have the same meaning. I can put money in a machine, push a button and get my bottle of Diet Pepsi but there isn’t a body machine that works the same way – and to be honest, I’m grateful. I wouldn’t know how to be in that world of the Planet of Girls without the time and courage it takes to move slowly into it from my Planet of Fat (thanks to Frances for the imagery).
Knowing the difference between what can be changed and what can’t does require wisdom and often several attempts to try and turn one into the other. How do you know if it can’t be changed unless you try? And if you assume something can be changed and it can’t, you’ll find that out soon enough.
I may be 52 but I don’t have to look my age. I may have bad knees but I can have strong muscles to help support them. I may be short … okay, I’m short and that’s not going to change. Time to accept it.