Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How not to get healthy

My roommate my senior year of college had some weight issues. I don't take such a statement likely, as, well, my "in my head" version of myself includes seven chins. But he had weight issues, and they trumped my own.

Now, my senior year of college was probably my strangest one with regards to my health. Since I only had a partial meal plan, I did a lot of my own cooking for the first time ever, and I actually discovered that I loved to cook (to be vulgar, eating is nearly as good as sex to me. Cooking? it's mindblowingly-awesome foreplay). I certainly didn't understand food as I understand it now, but for a college senior, I ate a pretty decent diet.

I didn't have any classes until 10AM, yet my then-fiance was leaving for student-teaching by 7, and I felt the need to get up with her. At least an hour of that time between me getting up & hauling my ass to class was spent at the gym just about every morning (the other time, reserved for studying, was spent in front of a computer or the playstation, because I was awesome like that). I was hardly "skinny" or "fit", but I wasn't obese, either.

My roommate, however, wasn't quite following the same lead, and was eating truly astonishing amount of crappy food. So I was surprised when, suddenly, one day, he came home with a case of Slim-Fast. It looked like he was going to up & make a change for the better.

So the first day I was home, after he brought the Slim Fast home, I didn't have the heart to tell him that he was going about things all wrong. The program was "a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, a sensible dinner." He ate his normal "bag of tater-tots" breakfast, washing it down with a slim-fast.

A better friend would have told him to change things up, to explain what he was doing wrong. But, sometimes, I fail, miserably, at friendship. The only plus to his plan was that he severely cut down on snacking between meals while this attempt lasted. I don't know if he gained or lost weight, but, on a college-student budget, he couldn't continue the plan for long (that shit's expensive!), so it was back to whole milk before too long with breakfast, and snacking throughout the day soon thereafter.

So, why the hell am I telling this story? It's not to be mean, it really isn't -- my old roommate, if he reads this, is a kickass band director with a beautiful family these days & I wish him only the best. No, I'm posting it because I L-O-V-E to eat, and I could totally see myself walking down the same path as he was walking down here.

What would I do differently, if I were a better friend & had a time-machine? First, I would have convinced him to completely avoid the gimmick. I'm sure Slim Fast has worked for millions, but I'm also sure that it primarily works for people looking to lose a few pounds here & there, not to combat a lifelong battle with "how to be healthy".

Next, keeping budget in mind, I, personally, would have cut out "bad for you snacks" altogether at the house. I was burning a LOT of calories during the day, and could afford empty calories (in addition to beer, an absolute staple of my college diet). But, you know, if you're making a ton of money, you might be able to afford going to a strip club every night -- but that still doesn't mean it's something you should do. Instead of Doritos, tortilla chips, & pretzels (my staples), I'd have snacked on carrot & celery sticks, apples, pears, bananas... basically, the diet I'm eating at work these days. Yeah, I know it sounds sucky, but after a day or two, the "chip craving" leaves me. And, I'm not looking to solve my roommate's problems here - I'm simply trying to be as good an example as I can be, offering whatever I could (and considering how much cheaper the "rabbit food" is than the "good snacks", I'd have had more than enough to share). For those times when my body called for something more than "rabbit food", maybe a little cheddar, or some yogurt, or a peanut butter sandwich.

Again, I love food, and the idea that anybody would restrict their food intake (as somebody who has done just that) sickens me. I'm all for eating massive amounts of food when your body says "I would like to eat massive amounts of food", I just make sure that when I'm eating said massive amounts of food, that my choices are providing nutrition & not just caloric intake.

And, if you're going to eat tremendous amount of food, make it good food. Tater tots are fine - they're fun, they're bit-sized, but, as an adult, they kind of suck. In the time it takes to preheat the oven & get the baking sheet out, you can make a kick ass guacamole, bean dip, or hummus. A few minutes more? A bruscheta. This stuff isn't "difficult", it just takes two minutes with a recipe.

If I've learned anything from eating as I'm eating now, it's that my body does actually say "I'm full". When my weight is rising, it either didn't say so very loudly, or I was completely not listening. Intuitive eating works - it just takes a long time, sometimes, to communicate with your hunger level.

As for my own workout this morning, I walked the dogs & my ankle just wasn't fully right . . . I probably overdid it in the run yesterday. So, I skipped my run this morning, opting to lift weights & spin. I watched the first half of Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death while working up a sweat, because I needed something silly this morning.

1 comment:

Evil Twin's Wife said...

It is easier - and cheaper and still tasty - than most people think to make a healthy choice. Simple exercises while watching TV are easy to incorporate. I've got 7 lbs to lose (it doesn't seem like much, but I've been battling with it for months now), so I'm trying to shake things up a bit and get rid of that 7 lbs that is mocking me! LOL.