Fat Tuesday: It’s Always About the Journey

So this is me, at 21, in all my young, thin, fit, hyperactive metabolism glory.

I know a lot of people who are trying to lose weight have a picture of themselves just like this one – in their minds eye or even on a corner of the mirror, or on the fridge. Something they use to motivate themselves, to get back to their “fighting weight”, to recapture a sense of who they used to be.

While I will never shame anyone for their efforts or the way they motivate themselves to make better life choices, I’m also not sure that’s the right way to go about it. Despite what comic books and science fiction would have us believe, it is impossible to go backward in time.

That is, of course, the central message of the Torah portion this past week. Lech Lecha is all about moving forward to a new place. What is interesting and instructive is the specific language used:

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־אַבְרָם לֶךְ־לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּ ית אָבִיךָ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶֽךָּ׃

The LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

Even without delving too deeply into the Hebrew, we can glean from this that the way to a better place is forward, away from what we knew, away from what was comfortable and normative.

But “Lech Lecha” is not a typical grammatical phrase. Another way of rendering it might be “Go to yourself”. This is also instructive. Our weight loss journey is inherently one of finding the “new you”. And by definition the new you is not the old you of yesteryear. In fact, there is no way for you to know what the new you is going to look like, because you aren’t there yet.

This is why, for as much as I tease him about it, my coach Jeff is right. Calling this a diet, or worse, a weight loss project, puts the emphasis in entirely the wrong place. That’s goal oriented. Goals are great to have, but they’re often, maybe even usually – and certainly not in this case – the point.

The point is to go away from the land of food consumption we once knew, to a place that we will find as we travel step by step, replacing old habits for healthy ones, and finding ourselves along the way.