In my math class we recently finished our unit of study on perimeter. Perimeter is the lines that provide definition to a shape and it got me thinking about the perimeters that I’ve established in my life and how they serve to define the life I live. Certainly the perimeters that I’ve set up around my free time, my relationships with others, and the ones around my belief system have changed as I’ve become a wife and a mother but as I’ve journeyed down the path of weight loss, I’ve found it critically important to frequently reevaluate and redefine them and you should too. If you’re unhappy with the shape of your body, the shape of your relationship or your career, don’t be afraid to switch up those perimeters and see what change it brings.
We recently had to evict our children from the use of our bathroom because they were trashing our space. We bought our first house about 5 years ago but prior to that our children had always lived in small little apartments where we were forced to share the space. And I always loved that they wanted to be close to us and to each other, opting to sleep in the same room and bathe in the same space despite having a large house to spread out in. We decided when we had children that we were going to use the attachment parenting style where you co-sleep (family bed until they were each 5), nurse for extended periods of time (2 years for each child), carry your children everywhere in those back breaking slings, etc. because we wanted them to develop an intimate closeness to their parents and to each other. From the time that they were born until they went to kindergarten, they slept in our bed, they bathed with us , they ate sitting in my lap, and we pretty much spent every moment in close physical contact. This attachment style served its purpose but as the children have gotten older, we have had to take a hard stance on redefining our perimeters to carve out some personal space for ourselves, our marriage, and for our children to develop some Independence. Our marriage was starting to suffer from the lack of personal space and time. My identity was suffering too. Hard decisions had to be made but once the perimeters were redefined; our family burgeoned with these more restrictive perimeters.
When it came to my weight loss journey, more perimeter shifts were necessary. If you know me, you know that there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to please my children or my husband but I found myself drowning in an ocean of service to others. My mother often reminds me when she can see that I’m overwhelmed that when you get on an airplane, that the first thing they say in the safety sermon is that parents must put on the oxygen masks first before helping their children…which of course makes complete sense- if you can’t breathe, you can’t help someone else. But somewhere along the line, we’ve forgotten that and wanting to breathe feels selfish. The time I spent working out was the only time in my day when children (both my genetic and my students) weren’t demanding something from me. It was my time to breathe. Now, it sounds easy to carve an hour out of your day to exercise but I quickly found that outside forces were whittling into that time (“Mom, I need new cleats for my game”, “Mrs. Sutton can you call me back about my child”, “Bec can you pick up my dry cleaning”)….I had to fight to keep that perimeter wide and sometimes that feels like being a bad mom or teacher or wife but that is the price you need to pay to be able to breathe in your space.
Another perimeter i had to reset was the food in our house. While I was able to exert some self control when I was at work or in the car, the amount of temptation at home was too much to bear. All the kids school snacks and the crappy dinners with their favorite carby creations were making us all sick. So we evicted most of the snacks (I only get the ones I don’t like now and I buy just enough to last the 5 days that I pack lunch for them) and I started refocusing on nutritious meals (without a lot of carbs). In tightening up this perimeter, I was able to make better, more precise and well thought out choices for myself and my family.
Examine your perimeters, make changes, broaden some and tighten others. Refine the boundaries that define you and make your life take the shape that feels right for you.