Please, Don't Hurt The Bunny

I’m currently taking an Advanced Novel Writing class with a published author of 40+ books and magazine articles. Prior to each week’s class, the participants have to submit at least one chapter of their ongoing attempt to complete a first (or in my case, a second) draft of a manuscript. In addition to providing instruction on the construction of the book, the instructor spends time discussing each of our weekly submissions at length. She offers suggestions, points out holes in the story, and provides guidance on further developments.

One of her most frequent comments, especially for new writers, is that we aren’t “hurting the bunny” enough. The story behind this phrase is her’s to tell. Metaphorically speaking, though, it indicates the level at which our protagonist is challenged by the events in their life. In literature, if there’s no conflict – there’s no story. Or at least not one that is of interest to the reader. So we are encouraged to hurt our bunny often and with intention.

It struck me today as I worked on my submission for this week that I’m pretty darn good at “hurting the bunny” – particularly when the bunny is me on my weight loss journey. Over the last few months, I’ve wallowed (yes, like a pig in his sty) in the “woe is me” feelings of stalled weight loss. Every effort has seemed futile and expensive. I’ve kicked myself in the behind for every mindless bite of food or every moment spent not exercising or being productive. I berate myself when every self-imposed deadline passes without me reaching goal. I am overly critical when the scale reveals even a tiny gain.

This seems to be a common malady among long term weight loss travelers. Especially those who can “see” the final goal.

Two Weight Watcher's meetings ago, we discussed analyzing what we do well instead of what we’ve not done well. This is definitely the essence behind not hurting the bunny. It is the essence of recognizing the beauty and value behind who we are at every milestone along the way.

Today I am setting a new challenge for myself. I’m going to STOP hurting the bunny. It’s time to be gentle with myself and to recognize the accomplishments. Although my expectations for myself remain high, I plan to spend more time appreciating the bunny. I’m allowing her to enjoy the here and now, instead of obsessing about an eventual future or regretting past actions.

The bunny is, by no means, off the hook. I still have 13 pounds to go to reach goal and I plan to reach it. However, as I eat on plan, I vow to spend more time enjoying the taste, texture and pleasure of food. I vow to revel in that euphoric feeling of challenging my body through exercise. And I will fully relax into those non-food-related down times spent cuddling my canine kids, soaking in a hot bath, or strolling through the park.

As is the case with a literary bunny, our challenges make us stronger for the fight ahead. Our path is often crooked, doubles back, and, occasionally, detours completely. But for every story, there is always a resolution – a fact that is influenced by our attitude, actions (or reactions), and determination to never quit.

As the authors of our own stories, I challenge each of you to take a few moments today to really look at your bunny. When you reach lifetime, what condition will your bunny be in? Will he or she be bruised, bloody and limping or glowing with health, joy, and confidence? Will he or she have enough energy for the next phase or be too tired to care?

Be kind to yourself today and every day. You deserve it.

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