Lately I’ve had that “old habits die hard” feeling. I find myself snacking more. I’m not snacking on anything especially unhealthy, but just mindlessly munching on almonds or apples or those “Mary’s Gone Crackers” crackers. Those are really good, by the way. The Nutritarian Way is to eliminate snacking as much as possible and rest the digestive tract between meals. It’s hard. Also, it’s baseball season, which is beer and grill season in my world. I have not had a beer since January. I really love beer…
Back in February I joined the Y. I thought I should have lost 10 pounds just for joining and remain disappointed that it doesn’t work that way. I like the Y because the facilities are decent, the childcare inexpensive, and the members are a genuine cross section of the community. I frequently run into other RNs, physicians, people who work at the stores where I shop, parents of Amos’s classmates. I went today to do my 30 minutes on the treadmill (not a habit, yet), and I’m glad I went. Just when I was starting to think, “Well, I’ve proven my point, I’m going to eat some chips,” my visit reinvigorated my commitment to Health.
Ok, I have gained weight in my life. At times quite a bit. But today I saw several people who were really, really fat. And this is not a judgment about their character, they were fat. Among them was a mom and her two ENORMOUS sons. They were 12 years old at most and HUGE. Have I impressed upon you the LARGENESS of these boys? A very graphic word I can think of: CORPULENT. Think Jabba the Hut. Ok, get this: one was eating Jack in the Box and the other Mickey D’s.
Now, if I were a judgmental sort (which we’ll assume for the moment that I’m not), I would have thought something like, “WTF is wrong with you???” But regarding my estimation of this woman’s situation, there are a few mitigating factors. First, I’m highly trained in Interdisciplinary Cognitive Arts. Which is to say that I went to a fancy-schmancy liberal arts college (several, actually!) where we learned to approach a situation from multiple angles. So here’s my thought process:
This woman works at the Y. I’m thinking this is not a high-paying job. She’s got two boys approaching adolescence, the caloric demands of whom are no doubt intimidating. Parenting alone? Statistically speaking it’s a safe bet, but even if she’s married/partnered, I’m going to guess said partner is not the one who is primarily responsible for meal prep. I’m trying to paint the picture of a working-poor, exhausted, single mom, get it? I have all the time in the world (not really) and professional food service training, and even I don’t like prepping kale. What I’m trying to say is that it takes A LOT of work against The System to maintain a truly healthy diet. Healthy calories are hard, easy calories are crap. And not that cheap.
I’m not going on about their lack of personal responsibility because these people were at the YMCA. They want to be healthy. They may even know the basics of what it takes to be healthy. They may even think they are healthy. They may not know why they are so big. I know this, because I’ve been there (well, not physically, but psychologically). And being HUGE is not that unusual anymore. It’s the New Normal.
I’m ranting about this because I am genuinely afraid that my kid is going to come home from 9th grade one day and tell me one of his classmates dropped dead from a heart attack. This is not a far-fetched idea. But I’m not going to go on a childhood obesity tangent here. I’m going to go on a Recommended Reading tangent:
The End of Overeating by David Kessler, MD a fascinating read by the former head of the FDA about the forces conspiring to sell us cheap calories.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. This is a very accessible book on how to change habits. It’s geared toward corporate settings, but also contains useful information on personal habit formation. Interesting to anyone wanting to change long held habits, but especially interesting if you want to make workplace changes.
This morning at 4am, Dale told me I had to take the bag of tortilla chips to work with me and give them away.