Roller Coaster Forces

 Choices determine experience.

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Image - roller coaster

Long ago, I lost track of how many attempts I made to overcome my weight issues. So many times, I felt like I was on a roller coaster of ups, when I feel like I could do anything, and downs, when I felt like I could do nothing. My instincts told me I should be on a nice flat track, but instead I was continually soaring and plunging. Why is this?  

Roller coasters are an amazing study in physics, particularly in regards to the conditions of inertia and gravity. Initially, you are sitting in the cart on a flat track. You aren’t moving at all. You are in a state of inertia. Inertia is the tendency of a body to resist acceleration. The body tends to remain at rest. Inertia also says that a body moving in a straight line will keep moving in a straight line unless it is acted upon by an outside force.

Suddenly, the cart jolts forward. Power from an outside force (the roller coaster mechanism) has grabbed the line of carts and begins to pull them up a steep slope. The only powered part of the ride is that first long climb up to the highest point of the track. After that, gravity takes over. Gravity is a natural force of attraction that tends to draw objects from the surface toward the center of a celestial body. That first dive toward earth is both exhilarating and frightening. We feel totally out of control. Just before we meet certain death, the track veers to the side and the full impact of ups, downs, twists and turns is experienced. The ride doesn’t really last that long, but it feels like an eternity if you aren’t enjoying it.

Now, let’s apply these concepts to weight issues. We like inertia, don’t we? Our bodies like to stay in a still state. We resist moving forward once we are settled. If we do start to head in a particular direction, say toward weight gain, we tend to stay on that path unless some outside force – a doctor’s warning, going up another pant size, someone’s comment, or whatever – causes us to want to change our course.

This change from inertia to movement occurs completely in the emotional realm. We have feelings about it. Our feelings determine our actions. Usually, the more positive the feelings are, the more positive the action will be. For example, a positive feeling might be “I feel motivated to become healthier.” A negative feeling might be “I’m discouraged and cannot do this.” Positive actions are more likely to bring positive results. Negative actions are more likely to make us feel out of control.

The key to fostering more positive actions is to determine which types of outside forces will be allowed to influence you. Just like gravity pulls object toward the center of a body, you can decide what body you want to be pulled toward. The first body you can be pulled toward is your own body. Listening to yourself and your deepest desires is so important – those things really matter! The next body you can be pulled toward is someone who loves you. He or she will tell you honestly what actions are appropriate for your recovery.

Do you want society to be one of the bodies that influences you?  It’s easy to say, “No.” It’s harder to ignore its pull. Societal influences can pull you down a path that leads to destruction.

Take a good look at the outside forces in your life and see in which direction they are pulling you.  Then, decide if you want to allow that.

Unlike the rider of a regular roller coaster, you have the power to stop the ride, change the track, and then continue.

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Action Step: Make a list of the forces that influence your life today. Then, decide which ones you are going to allow to remain and which ones need to go away.

Affirmation: I am strong enough to make changes in the course of my life.

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