“Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” Yoda
Those were Yoda’s words to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke was stuck, unsuccessful and becoming frustrated with his failure. Luke precipitated that fabulous quote when he said, “Okay, I’ll give it a try.”
I always liked Yoda’s words. There seemed to be a deep meaning to them. How can you do something without trying? I never quite got what it was, but I always sensed there was a profound meaning in there some place. I don’t know how many years ago I heard that quote. It was in a movie theater when that particular installment of the Star Wars Trilogy was showing. Surely more than 10 years have gone by, maybe 20. Anyway, I finally got it.
I was riding my bicycle yesterday afternoon and just kind of playing with the idea of trying. What does it mean to try? That happens a lot when I am riding. I have told people that riding is my meditation. It just happens to burn calories. I don’t ride the bike for that, though. I do it because I love riding. Everything else is just gravy.
That’s how I finally got Yoda’s message.
Somehow, last year in the course of writing the blog, it all came together. I was talking the talk and started walking the walk – by writing about it.
I wasn’t really trying to lose weight. I had the Lose it! tool and dutifully entered the food I consumed into it every day. This gave me an insight and feeling for what I was consuming. That was that. Also, as I learned new concepts about intelligent eating, like portion control, I saw mistakes I was making in my consumption of food. The concept everything you eat becomes a part of you resonated with me.
Then there was my bike riding. As I wrote in How I lost 50 pounds in 52 weeks, I gained all those pounds but I was still riding my bike. I didn’t start riding to lose weight and riding didn’t keep me from gaining weight when I was eating so ignorantly. I gained despite riding over 2500 miles a year.
But, this past year, I had the food-consumption/calorie-burning thing down. I learned that I could stay within my food budget without a great deal of difficulty. In addition I was really enjoying riding my bicycle. Almost magically, over the course of a couple of months after starting the blog, the pounds just melted off me. I weighed 165 when we started and a couple of months later I was down to 154. My waist measurement went down from 34 to 32. I wrote about that in June (of 2011). This happened without my trying to lose. I was just eating intelligently and riding to enjoy myself.
From June 2011 till the present, I have simply hovered within a 5 pound range of 150 – 155 pounds and, honestly, it has been effortless.
I do my riding, I pay attention to what I eat and everything has simply fallen into place.
I believe what happened in that year is that I stopped trying to lose weight and just did it. I didn’t worry about it every day. I just lived my life. As it happens being retired is a rather simple life. But, I am able to ride my bike to my heart’s content and also pretty much eat to my heart’s content, too. I had been fat in my retirement.
What it comes down to for me is being in the moment. If you are trying you are thinking about the hoped for result. If you are doing, you are thinking about the task at hand. You are in the moment doing.
I still like to eat. I have chocolate and snacks some days. On the other hand, I don’t ever get into ‘pigging out.’ I can’t stand that bloated feeling I get after overindulging. Also, it slows me down mentally. I remember when I used to do that. I would finish off a giant meal with something sweet like pie a la mode, etc. My stomach always felt painfully stretched afterward. I have no desire to experience that discomfort any more. The fleeting taste of pie a la mode is not worth the price in physical discomfort that follows.
In summary, I feel that I have achieved weight control not through trying every day, but just by erasing some bad eating habits and having an active life. There is no trying, just doing.
January 2014 addition: I have been watching the Bob Dylan documentary Don’t Look Back and in one scene some British musicians who play Dylan’s music say to him that they found it very difficult trying to get people to listen to the words. Dylan answered that he didn’t try anything, “I just go out there and sing ’em. I don’t try to get anyone to listen.”
In February 2014 I wrote Why You Should Quit Trying to Lose Weight employing these same principles. And, possibly explaining them clearer.