Jenny Craig, Max the Dog, and the Divine
I report sadly that the food sucks. Although I look at myself as an inferior, less creative cook than most of my friends, Jenny Craig’s food led me to the epiphany that what my family has been telling me is true: I must actually be an incredibly talented chef! “Well,” my husband said encouragingly, “at least you’re not having to eat the food in one of Sheriff Joe’s prisons…remember, they make the inmates eat green bologna.” I was thoughtful for a minute, “Hmm…but at least it is bologna!”
Nobody is forcing me to do the Jenny Craig program. Not my husband, who inexplicably seems to think I am beautiful, no matter what. Not even my doctor, who explained that I would have the same foot problems I am having, even if I were rail-thin. But I know my serious foot problems are made worse by weight. And when we go to the beach in a month, I yearn to be able to walk along the ocean, something I can only do now with an enormous black walking boot on my foot…it does eliminate the pain, and it does give me a rakish, saucy, Pirate-like charm, but it is still awkward, which has led to some frightening yet funny interactions with the toilet! (Worst fear about the boot: that I will fall over and not be able to right myself, like Kafka’s Metamorphasized Cockroach, flailing my little arms and legs futilely!)
I am a food addict, and I have a disordered relationship with food…with being willing to shop for it, planning for it, cooking it, entertaining with it (always believing it is “not good enough”), and using excess amounts of it to take the edge off my high anxiety. I have tried numerous food plans, but I knew I needed a more disciplined, structured plan, which led me to Jenny. I am such a food addict that I worried I might not be able to even get through Day One. Just thinking about not having excess food as an option threw me into sadness, hurling me back to early memories of deprivation that would make a perfect Lifetime movie-of-the-week, but one that would be too disturbing and depressing for anyone to want to watch.
I asked my friends to pray for me. I visualized Kwan Yin, whose many extended hands offer overflowing nurturance. And I felt the support of a Divine Energy full of Boundless Compassion…Boundless Compassion.
Boundless Compassion is what I feel towards our nine and a half year old Wheaten Terrier, Max. He is so fluffy and eager and optimistic — his little tail often fluttering happily, like a Metronome, even when he is resting– that he fills me with joy. And even when he sometimes goofs – quietly slinking into walking away while he should still be in a “sit,” or lurching enthusiastically for a hot dog on the counter despite the consequences – I still think he is utterly lovable and charming. Is it possible that the Divine could love me as much as I love Max – so fully, so unconditionally? Can the Divine perhaps perceive me as innocent as I see Max?
I felt touched by the Divine yesterday, my first day of Jenny. Off I went to the grocery to do what always feels like a dreadful task – marketing — this time especially heavy on vegetables and fruit. I felt willing, but subdued. Then a young man at the cash register whom I had never seen before said to me in a serious tone, “Wow, I almost didn’t see you there—you, like, blended right into the background!” I felt confusion until I realized I was wearing my hippie-era camouflage-colored dress, and felt delighted once I understood his joke. Then another young man whom I had never seen before, who was helping me out to the car, was making pleasant conversation and asked me what I had done to my foot. When I told him, he immediately responded, “I’ll pray for you.”
Were these angels sent by the Divine to remind me to take myself more lightly and to trust that the Universe is resplendent with benevolent energy? Were the friends who were praying for my emotional peace holding up a bit of the sky for me? If I goof up on my food plan, can I be as firm yet loving with myself as I am when sweet Maxie makes a mistake? May we all be blessed with some good-tasting food, some gentle self-talk, and all the healing we need in order to feed our bodies and our souls!