I guess that's what they told us in elementary school when we had manitory anti-drug programs. We were told to expect peer pressure. Fortunately for me, the people I ran around with weren't the sort of people that were interested in pressuring me to do drugs. So I never needed the "Just Say No!" tactic.
But no one was able to tell me that I'd need that tactic in other areas of my life. First it was a meeting, where folks were passing around fudge and pretzels and gingersnaps and all sorts of things. They offered and I politely refused. But then it was, "Are you sure?" Of course, the question wasn't really if I was sure, it was "What's that about? It's just a few snacks-- what's wrong with that?" Then I came home and found that my husband had made dinner...and dessert. Granted it was sugar free pudding, and he'd been all cute and put it in wine glasses and tried to make it special. And he was really sad, and at least a little offended, that I wouldn't eat it. (At least I didn't say what I was thinking-- that my body more closely resembled pudding--soft and jiggly-- than I wanted it to.)
I guess I never bothered to consider how much of food consumption in general and specifically my food consumption was based around social needs. Being a people pleaser who hates disappointing people in any way, I wonder how many times I've even food that I didn't really want or need just because it's what people were doing-- or because I didn't want to let them down.
I have made two observations: 1) Me saying no to food has lead to lots of opportunities for conversation about what I'm doing. Come January, I'm going to be inviting my congregation into this journey with me, and these conversations are building a foundation for that. As much as I would sometimes like to blend in, people are watching what I'm doing. 2) When my body is getting what it needs, I feel very little need to eat junk-- other than the aforementioned guilt of not falling into the "but everyone is doing it" trap. Maybe that's been part of my struggle-- for years, I've not been giving my body what it needs. I've given it plenty of what my brain said it wanted my body to have (uh hence my identity as the Pudgy Parson) but I have to admit to myself that I haven't been really listening to my body's needs.
One of the tactics they taught us in elementary school was to come up with a list of reasons why we couldn't or wouldn't do drugs. Like having a list ready would make the "just say no" part easier. So here is my list. (And if these don't work, I'm not sure I'm above putting a sign on my office door that says "Please don't feed the pastor.")
10) Yes, round is a shape-- just not the one I want to be in.
9) My health matters. No really.
8) I don't have extra time to work off all the calories in that dish.
7) You're killing me. Seriously.
6.) Bathing Suit Season. Or boot season. Either way.
5) I'm not a quitter.
4.) I'm too smart to set myself up to fail.
3). I value the time and relationships more than I've ever valued the food.
2) I want to be a runner-- and I can't do it with all this extra weight.
Ok, so maybe I wouldn't actually say any of those to any one but myself. Or maybe I would. But that's fine, because I would say the number one thing on my list-- the thing that matters most.
1) I don't want to be the pudgy parson forever.
And that makes the NO! part that much easier.