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Lions Roar : May 2017
THIS DHARMA LIFE My Stomach is Empty: A Buddhist Teacher Does Weight Watchers On the bathroom scale as on the meditation cushion, JAMES ISHMAEL FORD says, it’s the results that count. JANSEYMOUR-FORD I’VE STRUGGLED WITH MY WEIGHT since early middle age. I used to like to say, “I’ll do anything to lose weight, except diet or exercise.” So slowly, the pounds kept adding up. It finally came to a head when I had to cancel a trip to India because my weight caused my chronic back issues to flare up. While I “knew” what to do, I simply wasn’t able to do it. It was humiliating. So about ten years ago, I cast about for some external assistance and hit on Weight Watchers. What I liked was that their method was geared more towards “life- style coaching” than “going on a diet.” Their points system, which drives food choices, modeled healthy eating habits. They also used small tokens like gold stars to encourage more activity and to mark significant milestones, like a 10% loss of body weight. They also provided two essential aids. The first was the semi- public weigh-in, where you were partnered with someone else. It seemed I always ended up partnered with a little old lady. Depending on my result, she would say, “Oh, honey, you lost one tenth of a pound this week! Isn’t it wonderful?” Or, “Oh, sweetie, you gained a pound. Don’t worry, we still have more weeks left.” The other aid was the group. I’m not particularly inclined to positive thinking, so I had to be careful to find a group not led by someone too chirpy. But just being with the group was REV. JAMES ISHMAEL FORD is losing weight in Long Beach, Cali- fornia, where he also guides the Blue Cliff Zen Sangha. His most recent book is If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break. LION’S ROAR | MAY 2017 25 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE