Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sympathy for our devils

I am not a foodie.
I like your fancy foods as well as anyone, but dropping a car payment on a meal is not my cup of tea, or $20 sniffer of brandy. I can't afford it.
Food's never really been a big part of my life.
Then why, oh why, do I have more and more days when I can't stop thinking about it?
Sunday night I got home from my weekly night shift and almost had to put a lock on the fridge to prevent me from eating a plate of nachos, ice cream and cookies.
It's an ever-increasing battle. I want to eat more than I burn off.
I shake my head at what I ate in college. I used to consume small pizzas for dinner, boxed pasta for lunch and maybe some breakfast. Fruits and vegetables weren't really a priority. Yet my weight stayed the same.
I was lucky, and I really didn't realize how lucky I was until I hit my early 30s. I remember trying on a pair of Dockers one day (because that's how I roll beeotch) and having trouble snapping the button.
It would be insulting to those who battle their weight to say that I battled it as well. But even as my diet had evolved over time, including servings of fruits and, yes, even veggies with every meal, that was the first time I realized that how much I ate actually could affect what I weighed.
Fortunately, that summer, I started running, and my college weight, about 180 pounds, returned to me with little effort.
Only now I'm almost 40. Almost! And now that I'm a fairly serious runner, trying to set PRs, I'm as restrictive in my intake as I've ever been in my life.
And it's shed some light on our obesity problem. There is a general consensus that 75 percent of us will be overweight in the next 20 years. That's three-fourths of the population. That's pretty slovenly. If this were the old days, the Vikings could work us over pretty well because I doubt most of us could get off the couch to fight.
But this is not the old days, and that's precisely the problem. Here's my ultra-amazing-scientific discovery  thanks to my own diet: It's HARD not to be fat.
As a country, we work pretty hard. Most of the day. Sometimes more. Many of us adults have offspring, too. We struggle with this, and we don't even have a commute.
That means you either need to study, learn and read how to prepare quick, easy and healthy meals or spend whatever free time you can muster on cooking said meals.
Is that all? That's not all. Temptation is around every corner.
Seriously, sometimes I feel like a heroin addict with easy access to clean needles and a cheap high on every corner. When you're trying to watch what you eat, that's exactly what fast food restaurants look like. And our grocery stores are full - stuffed, if you can excuse the pun - of high-fat, high-salt crap.
There are whole AISLES dedicated to calories, and all of it looks pretty good.
If you do have offspring, as we do, said offspring likes to have cookies and candy and sweets around the house. Yes, you can limit what they eat - and we do, pretty strictly, I think, to the point where the kids consider frozen blueberries and yogurt a treat - but you're probably not in the business of completely taking sugar out of your kids' lives. I STILL remember the resentment I felt because my parents would not let me have sugar cereal, and even today, I have trouble not putting Fruity Pebbles in my cart because of that.
And our society seems to believe in having food around at all times. How many snacks and sweets are just....around at your work? Or has vending machines? Even a cup of coffee can be full of calories.
I can't imagine being on a diet with all that temptation floating around. Those who actually do lose weight must have the willpower of Ghandi.
Is that all? Well, no, of course not. Most of us spend all day at our desks. I do. That's not gonna help you shed pounds. So exercise is the thing. And, yeah, as many of you know, I've got that down.
Yes, I do, but I run 35-50 miles a week, some of it pretty fast, and spend a couple hours a week lifting. And I still have to watch my diet. So is the 20 minutes many spend on the Stairmaster really enough? Well, it's definitely better than nothing, but not really. And most of us do nothing, mostly because we don't know how to get started, and when we do get started, we generally overdo it, find out it hurts and stop.
There are solutions to all of these problems. I know that. I'm proof of that actually. But it's not only a struggle just to get started on them, it's a constant, evolving struggle. Let's say, for instance, I get hurt. I've been really lucky. I haven't been hurt in my five years of running. But it's probably inevitable at some point. When I do, will I exercise as hard if I have to give up running for six months? No. No way.
I used to look at fat people with a mild form of disgust. I could never understand why someone would do that to themselves. But I've since become a parent, become older and struggled with my own diet.
I'm not fighting the same fight as many of you. But I am fighting it. And it's harder than it should be.
I wound up having some of that ice cream Sunday night. I couldn't fight the temptation.
But I punished myself the next day with a hard tempo run. And then I thanked my own fortune that I had the opportunity to do it.


Drizztdj said...

I recently had to give up the gym membership not only for financial reasons but I simply don't have time.

A workout at the gym takes 1.5-2 hours total (drive there, dress, workout, shower, drive home) , which doesn't fit into my schedule of work, kids, full time school, 4-6 hours of sleep.

I really want it back, but it's a choice between going to workout at 3:30am or 9:00pm and being a complete wreck at work, or finding a home gym set-up which isn't optimal but hopefully will do the trick.

SirFWALGMan said...

You are a twig. I bet you could eat whatever you want and not gain any weight. Between metabolism and your running.

I think running sometimes makes me hungry too... Like some days, not always, I just get these major munchies. It is weird.