Friday, February 5, 2010

Why do I need someone to teach me how to eat?

First off--apologies for the lack of entries this week. Things have been hectic with crowns and dentures and cavities, oy.

As I drove to lab late this evening I was listening to a bit on the radio. This guy, John Tesh, is always giving tips about life (health, finances, relationships). For some reason he annoys me, but he actually has decent things to say. Tonight he was listing three ways in which you can lose weight, which were things like switching to whole wheat, avoiding high fructose corn syrup and eating many small meals. As is the case with many nutritionists, his language revolved around terms like "training yourself to feel full," and what kind of chemical reactions go on that cause you to have certain cravings or store fat.

For a moment I stepped away from concentrating on the molecular level and what I know about the body...and I just laughed. Is society really that far gone that we need to be taught how to eat? Something so basic in human nature has gotten away from us and made a gateway for a multi-million dollar self-help, diet industry. Why are we willing to buy into these crazy gimicks and disgusting cleansing routines when the answer seems so simple: Eat well and stay active.

As Americans we have the luxuries of all-you-can-eat, free refills, never ending buffets and we've become gluttonous and lazy, sitting at our computers and taking breaks to simulate bodily movements at indoor work out facilities. Do you think our ancestors back in the day had to schedule a break for "bootcamp," or "body pump" or "spinning?" No. They hunted and gathered and ate whatever they could come up with. They actually ran on solid ground and lifted things that weren't manufactured for the sole purpose of lifting a specified amount.

I'm definitely not knocking gyms and convenient dining establishments, just trying to examine why Americans look and feel the way we do about our bodies. For me, I was always pretty active, involved in sports and jogged by myself after team sports were out of the picture. Why I had put on extra pounds in college, despite my workout efforts, never really clicked until two specific events. One, our crazy aerobics instructor one summer (fashion stuck in the 80's, overly committed to energy drinks) said, "Fitness and weight is 99% what you put in your body. It's not about exercise." And two, Bob Greene's Best Life Diet changed my life. I realize this is dramatic to say and Bob wasn't working single-handedly, as a change of scenery and starting professional school also did my body good. This book really gets scientific and helps prepare you for a lifetime of health and hapiness. I didn't follow the book precisely but I was able to make a few subtle changes and really see results without making much of a change in exercise.

Before you even start making changes, the book helps you to figure out why you have become less than thrilled about the current state of your body in the first place. Knowing where you are coming from really starts the problem-solving ball rolling. For me, and probably many others, it was about having a sense of entitlement and basically being spoiled during childhood. Now, now I didn't get ridiculously expensive toys or wild vacations, but my parents and grandparents gave me whatever they could. Treating us with food in a big way. I remember my gramps specifically saying "nothing but the best for my granddaughters," and somehow this translated to dessert and steak and starbucks. Our grandma's form of love currency is bagels and cheesecase. In my mind, I was awesome and deserved to eat awesome stuff. I felt like I had the right to spoil myself with desserts and fancy drinks. This continued into college when unfortunately, my body started going through that second puberty no one tells you about. What the heck? Woman hips?

When I studied abroad in Barcelona and traveled around Europe I really had a field day. Nutella on white bread for breakfast, pastries in every country and no time for exercise. My American mentality did not translate on a continent where "non-fat" is non-existent and people just have enough wits about them to call it quits when enjoying a fatty piece of ham. I was on a six month vacation and I'd always been taught to load up on junk food on vacation-- grab your snickers ice cream bar and get back in the suburban. Before I knew it I came home and weighed in at 30 pounds more than I do now.

This post could go on forever, but that's just a little piece of my health history that I thought of this evening. I now treat my body like a temple and definitely enjoy food without abusing it as another outlet to spoil myself or compensate for attention deficits. It feels really good.

1 comment:

tom laster said...

I've starting doing the Best Life Diet thing too. I have decided to not cut out alcohol, but aside from that, its so great. In fact, my energy level and mental clarity in clinic has def improved. But I will say, taking his advice to go to bed hungry, is lame and I hate it. I do it... but I hate it.