Ten or so years ago, I heard the famous dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp interviewed on the radio. I remember one thing about the interview. The talk show host asked Tharp if she thought her age was effecting her ability to dance. Ms. Tharp’s simple reply was, “No.”
That got my attention.
Then Tharp went on to say that, as she got older, she just had to put more into her body in order to get it back out. Otherwise, according to her, age had no effect. That was her conclusion. Well, I like her attitude. By the way, at age 68, Tharp is still very active as a choreographer in New York.
Speaking of New York, when I was writing my first book for John Wiley & Sons back in 2000, it was a rather stressful project. Big Apple sensibilities don’t usually mesh well with the laid back attitudes of the West. So I was under a lot of pressure to get a lot of work done in a hurry. And the way I dealt with that stress was to have something to munch on constantly while I stared for long hours at the blinking cursor on my computer screen.
Blink. Blink. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Blink. Crunch. Blink. Crunch, crunch.
When I was about done with the book, a friend of mine walked past me in the hallway at the church, and gave me a little knowing pat on my belly. I was hoping nobody would notice that I had put on 20 pounds.
It was time to cut back. I had to stop putting the wrong things into my body and start putting the right things in.
These things tend to have a long wheelbase, you know. It has taken me a while to get it turned around. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out how to get my calorie intake and exercise in balance. Actually, I am still trying to get them in balance. And I have good evidence that it’s pretty important that I do.
I’ve done the calorie counting thing, with lots of walking. I’ve done Body-for-LIFE, or, as Cristi called it the other day, Body for Wife. I got great results with that, but it is very intense and takes real concentration. I’ve studied The Abs Diet and have used parts of it.
Now, finally, I’m putting all this together. I am just doing some very basic things. Here they are.
- I exercise everyday except Sunday (with occasional lapses).
- I don’t eat high carbohydrate foods—like breakfast cereals, crackers and chips—and I take it easy on breads, especially light breads.
- I don’t eat after 7:00 o’clock at night (most of the time).
- I’m on a dessert calendar. Yes, I get to eat dessert, but only on special occasions, like birthdays or holidays.
- I am more concerned about my body mass index (my body fat) than I am about my weight. (It’s currently at 26.9; should be under 25.)
I’m happy to say it’s starting to work, though it does not take a great deal of thought or self-control, because the plan is simple. I feel and do so much better when I don’t eat sugar, so it is becoming less and less of a temptation to me. I don’t even really crave it that much anymore. I crave feeling strong more than something that tastes good.
But there is also one other very important lesson I’ve learned: It’s not just what you put into your body, it’s what you put into your spirit that makes the biggest difference. I’m reminded of a scripture: “Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also.” (Alma 60:23.) What’s going on inside shows up on the outside.
When I’ve put on weight in the past, I think it has been a reflection of how I was feeling inside rather than what I am eating. I look back and I realize that my extra weight was put on to protect myself from something I was feeling. Getting to the bottom of that has been one of the biggest challenges of my life, but getting that part of my life under control has been one of my greatest victories.