So I’m full speed ahead into week 2 of my $25-a-week good food challenge and so far so good. This week’s grocery total was $21.32. Almost a quarter of that was my purchase of a pound of Laura’s Lean Beef – cattle raised on a diet of natural grasses and grains, without growth hormones or antibiotics. I’m up to my eyeballs in beans and am ready for a little variety. But at $4.99 a pound, a pound is about all I was willing to purchase on a $25 budget. I did the bulk of my shopping at the supermarket because I wasn’t able to make it to the farmer’s market this week. Laura’s was the only brand of grass fed beef available, and there was no ground turkey (my usual ground meat purchase) that was processed from cage free turkey.
I was always taught to do the right thing. When someone insulted or offended me, I was taught to turn the other cheek or simply walk away, because that would be the right and “Christian” thing to do. If I find a wallet full of money I will turn it in, I hold the doors for elderly ladies and I’ve even pulled over my car on a busy thoroughfare to dodge speeding vehicles and assist a helpless and disoriented dog—because I do the right thing.
So why is it so difficult to do the right thing when it comes to health, fitness and nutrition? Why do butter plus sugar and flour equal delicious? Why do restaurants serve portions for a single meal that obliterate your daily caloric, sodium and fat limits? Why is it easier to go to The Cheesecake Factory than the gym when the gym is not 5 miles away, nor is there a 45 minute wait?
The toughest part of this week’s challenge was not sticking to the $25 budget. It wasn’t giving up processed foods or refined sugar. No, the toughest part of this week was stopping myself from counting calories and weighing myself.
I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that over the years, tracking what I could and couldn’t eat and weighing myself have become an obsession. Ironically, none of that obsessive tracking did anything to stop me from gaining weight. But it’s become so much a part of what I do and who I am, that not doing it seems foreign to me. Enter my public declaration on Women at Forty that I’d do neither. Never one to lie (well, not to large groups of people at once) I refrained from calorie checking and weighing myself – despite being tempted several times. There’s something to be said for going public.
My mother used to tell us “Nothing worth doing is ever easy.” She used that maxim to motivate us to complete our chores and homework and strive to make top grades in our Advanced Placement classes. I remember her whispering it to me at my grandmother’s funeral when my knees went weak and I began to sob while kneeling at the casket and saying my goodbyes. Those six words have served me well over the years; they’ve seen me through heartache, professional challenges and dealing with the loss of friends and relatives. Now, they are my mantra for dealing with a different type of loss—weight loss.
As I continue my efforts to improve my health and fitness levels, I find myself relying heavily on my mother’s favorite maxim. Those six words are incredibly powerful when paired with steely resolve and an abundance of faith. After ten days of making an earnest effort to be mindful of my eating and exercise habits, the scale shows a seven pound weight loss! While seven pounds is only the tip of the iceberg (and the title of a Will Smith film), it is an accomplishment, nonetheless.
Last night I ate an entire bag of corn. Not popcorn. No, it was one of those steamable 12oz. bags of corn. You might be thinking, “a bag of corn is not so bad.” But the true culprit here is not really what I ate, it’s whatever emotion I was feeling – or not feeling – at the moment that drove me to eat an entire bag of anything, despite not really wanting to.
If I was being completely honest with myself before “Corngate” last night, I’d have admitted that I was anxious about several things – finances, my health, the future, the suffering in Haiti and the rest of the world, how they’ll end LOST over on ABC. You name it, and there’s a small segment of my brain dedicated to thinking about it, or in last night’s case, not thinking about it. And while on a practical level I know that scarfing down an entire bag of steamed corn will not save even one Haitian life, in the moment, eating the corn, or the pasta, or whatever form my escape takes on that day, seems much easier than dealing with the issues that are heavy on my heart.
I’ve always been sort of a “fixer.” I hurt when other people hurt, I cry when they cry. And these past few weeks in particular I feel helpless to do anything about the suffering and pain I see around me. And as a life-long believer in a loving God, in times like these I question what exactly is going on with Him, and my inability to provide answers. That emotion snowballs into questioning my own life and decisions and I start to feel cornered. Continue reading Corn-ered: Confessions of a compulsive overeater