The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More thoughts on I.F., obesity, and personal growth

“Focus on joy and function, and form will take care of itself.”--Geoff

Wise, wise words. Does society make too much of obesity? Maybe. When I listen to heavy friends talk about the pain they experience, I certainly think so. But then I ask myself what benefits they get from remaining in a state that triggers this negative reaction. I assume that they have physical intelligence—that unless there were a positive reward, the negative input would modify their behaviors, that there would have to be an equal and opposite push to remain in the heavy state. Here are a sample of the things that have been said to me over the years about weight. “If I lose weight…”
1) I’m short. I have a lesser presence in the room, and people won’t take me as seriously.
2) Men will start looking at me as a sex object, and take me less seriously.
3) Men will be attracted to me, and I will cheat on my husband (!)
4) My husband will be attracted to me again, and I don’t want that bastard touching me.
5) I feel smaller and more vulnerable.
6) I’ll have more energy, and people will just expect more from me.

Here are some of the reasons people have given for wanting the extra weight, or being unable to lose it:
1) child abuse
2) rape
3) spousal abuse
4) constant hunger as a child
5) Loneliness
6) Aversion to exercise
7) Addiction to sugars and fats

Here are some of the complaints that I’ve heard connected with it:
1) Social rejection
2) Inability to fit in theater or airplane seats.
3) Lack of sex or sex drive
4) Lack of energy
5) Joint and back pain.
6) Inability to enjoy previously enjoyable activities
7) Sleep apnea
8) Heart disease
9) Blood pressure
10) Diabetes

And death. Now, please look at this from my perspective. Here I am, addicted to the concept of balance. If you have money problems, it is almost impossible to solve them without extensive cooperation from others. If you have relationships problems, it is ABSOLUTELY impossible to fix a relationship without your partner’s cooperation. Many health problems or fitness issues cannot be addressed behaviorally, no matter what the level of discipline, commitment, or clarity.

But here’s obesity. And like I said, I can see someone simply liking bread more than they like jogging. A little padding is nobody’s business, and might be purely cosmetic, with no relationship to any emotional or physical problem. But there is a point where that is no longer true. What’s that point? I’d have to be a mind-reader to tell, but I can tell you the point at which the little hairs on the back of my neck start twitching:
1) With relationships, it’s the third marriage. Or the third relationship that ends disastrously and “the other person’s fault.”
2) With money, its someone who is always broke, claims they don’t care about money, but then complain about how much others get paid, or all the things they can’t do that money would handle.
3) With weight, it’s having enough extra pounds that that weight would make another human being: somewhere around 80 pounds.

I’m not “correct” or dogmatic about this, it’s just the way I make snap decisions that help me predict human behavior. It’s kept me alive for fifty-five rather adventurous years.

Whenever I see something causing someone pain, and they do not change, I assume there is an equal and opposite internal force creating inertia. And over the years, every time someone has made such a change, they have admitted that it was an emotional issue that had kept them static—even if they swore up and down and sideways that that was NOT the truth before. So, another principle:

“People will lie until they’re ready to tell the truth.”
At the core of our existence, I think human beings pure evolutionary energy. Every child, every tree will grow as tall as it can. But we all run into damage along the way. And we develop beliefs, value hierarchies and positive/negative emotional anchors to protect ourselves and maximize our perceived chances of survival.

I am interested in I.F. for fitness and spiritual reasons. But what has become clear is that anyone who can practice I.F. can lose all the weight they want. And I think that, for many people, this will be frightening as hell. Suddenly, right in front of them, is something that will work, if they can simply keep their word to themselves.

Note: I said simply, not “easily.” Social pressure is massive. But then, isn’t growing up and becoming an adult at least partially the resistance to “Peer pressure”? Isn’t that what we tell our kids?

And body sensations are massive. But aren’t we supposed to resist the urge to intoxication? To sexual satisfaction? To resting or playing when we need to work? Isn’t this also an aspect of maturity?

But note something: my position is that EVERYONE has damage. Some folks are lucky enough for that damage to be relatively invisible. Others wear it on their sleeves. The “invisible” ones can project the very false image of having “all their shit together.” This, I think, is one of the reasons that we love tabloid newpapers and vidzines. They show us that the “perfect people” are just as flawed as the rest of us.

Look at the chakras. They imply that as we heal damage on the lower levels (survival issues, sexual issues, barrier/power issues) we free up energy to “evolve” toward wholeness on the “higher” levels. (Higher here does not imply more important. Cut a tree’s roots, and the leaves die.)

My basic position, after over forty years of looking at this stuff, is that people lie about money, sex/love, and weight. First, they lie to themselves, which makes it impossible to be truthful to others.

But my assessment CANNOT be correct 100% of the time. Can’t be. So, inevitably my assumption that someone REALLY wants money, or love, or a more slender body HAS to be wrong sometime. Maybe a lot of the time, I really don’t know. I know that when I go by what people tell me, I get surprised. If I go by my own instinct, I rarely am.

So what the heck do I do? With full and complete apologies to anyone who is content being broke, or alone, or more than 80 pounds overweight, I send out a message that these things can be changed, and that there are ways to do it. I try to respect the inwardness of those who hear me, understanding that they have a right to their privacy, and the playing out of their process in their own way, in their own time.

But there are those looking for answers in these arenas, and if I’ve found them (or even tools that might be useful, if not complete) then I have a moral obligation to offer them, and speak as honestly as I can about what I see in the world. We need far more kindness and love, but probably less Political Correctness in the world.
Other subjects. Heard about a pipe bomb defused outside an abortion clinic. The host on the Liberal talk show was ranting about how Bush should have been proclaiming victory over a terrorist, but won’t because it was a religious organization, opposing abortion. Sigh. What a difficult issue. I am absolutely in favor of a woman’s right to choose. It especially bothers me that the same side of the political spectrum that opposes abortion seems to support cutting the social services that would give those children a better chance at life. Still, IF I actually believed that a fertilized ova was a human being, then I might have to bomb abortion clinics too. I can see that set of behaviors arising from that set of beliefs and values.

It would be a little like a freedom fighter blowing up the guards at concentration camps, I guess. I empathize, can see their point, and believe that society cannot tolerate such behaviors. This is a very sad dilemma, really…
Today is a fasting day. I’ll do Tibetans, KB clean and press ladders, and some endurance/fat-burning routine. Probably a series of 30sec/on 30 sec/off sprints with double KB’s. A wrestler named Steve Maxwell created a killer routine designed to build the specific types of strength and stamina needed by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners. Cool stuff.
Speaking of the Tibetans. Several of you have recently mentioned them. Might I ask you to relate your experiences, and tell me what your current numbers are? You’re supposed to start with 3 and add 1-2 a week until you get to 21. Just recently, I’ve realized that there are very natural advanced versions of Tibetans 2-5, and could use some feedback on where people are right now with them. Thanks!

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