Friday 24 March 2017
Epiphany At Walmart
As eagle-eyed readers may have noted in some of my posts, I am trying to lose weight. It wasn't always this way. I was a scrawny kid and an underweight adult. I've also been a low-energy person my whole life. After we had children and a house and yard to take care of, the stress started to increase, and I coped by eating chocolate chips straight from the bag. I still remember clearly the day I realized there was no one to say no to this decadence, no one to frown upon the disappearing baking ingredients. There was just me, and I looked the other way.
As the years went by, the pounds crept on. I have occasionally been able to lose small amounts of weight by watching my diet and walking most days of the week, only to have it return if I ease up on that regime. But things are getting serious the last couple of years. I'm at risk for diabetes, having had gestational diabetes requiring insulin in my first pregnancy. My joints are suffering from wear and tear, and now my blood pressure, which has been fine my whole life, is starting to go up. So I have ramped up my efforts to walk and to cut excess calories.
And yet, and yet ... I don't like not being able to eat delicious sugary and salty and fatty things. My diet is already restricted because I can't tolerate caffeine, acidic foods, and spices. I'm getting tired of counting every calorie and eating foods without sauces, dressings or salt. I'm feeling hard done by with my limited diet. It's not fair, whines the six-year-old princess inside my head. Everybody else can eat whatever they want, as much as they want, but not me. Bah, humbug.
The pity party was really going full blast last week. I felt persecuted by ... I don't know who ... just Fate, I guess. I felt hungry, tense and irritated for four days straight - I'm talking cravings, not real hunger, of course. My weight inched ever upward as the week progressed. I was cranky and crabby and felt like punching myself in the nose. And, to be honest, everyone else, right in the nose. This is not my usual outlook, and I didn't care for it.
It all came to a head on Saturday evening as I walked through Walmart, looking for a greeting card, and had to pass a display of cute little cupcakes with icing piled as high as the cupcakes underneath. A rainbow of sugary fat. A tray of sugar jolt. I knew just what those things would taste like, and yet how unsatisfying they would be, requiring half the tray to be eaten, requiring one to feel sick before being sated. Why do mass-produced baked goods LOOK so good and TASTE so terrible? And set up such a craving? (Yes, probably because of the sugar/insulin cycle. But it's not any more fair even when we know that, is it?)
For a moment my resentment rose to a new level. I thought about all the people walking by the display, and felt irrationally upset that they were free to buy and eat all the cupcakes, or brownies, or pie they wanted, while Poor Me had to pass them by and pass them up, or else I'd be passing on sooner than I should.
Then ... my mind working away like a little squirrel, as my mind always seems to do ... a seismic shift in thinking. What if that man - that one right there, coming toward me - what if he has a heart condition and has to keep his weight in check? What if that little girl further along, walking with her family, is Type 1 diabetic and has to avoid sugary foods to try to head off long-term complications of her illness? What if that woman - that slim one right there, resolutely looking away from the cupcakes - has spent years watching her diet and exercising, and still feels the pull of sugar, and has the will to keep walking?
Suddenly, I felt like I belonged. I'm one more person in the army of resisters, the silent majority who value their health and battle every day to make good choices in diet and activity. I feel like I'm not held down but that I'm pushing back - against the marketing, against the physical craving and visual allure of processed foods, and against the profit-first orientation of business.
I realize I'm the only one who can help myself. My family and friends, no matter how sympathetic they are, can't do it for me. Not even my doctor can do it for me, not even if he orders me to lose weight. It is still up to me to do the work.
But I've also realized that I'm not alone as I struggle.
And while that may seem like the most obvious point in the world, it was a point I was failing to connect with, a point I was missing.
Missing ... evading ... whichever.
But the realization makes a world of difference.
Epiphany at Walmart. It really happened.
- which I love with every inch of my self-absorbed, entitled-attitude heart. We got a Febbawarry-type blizzard on Thursday, and the woolly hats are very much in use here.
Hope you have a lovely weekend, my friends.
P. S. I may be naive, but I like to think that anyone who would bother to knit a tiny woolen hat for their kitten is the kind of person who would pull that hat over the eyes of that kitten for ONLY the short time it would take to snap the picture. That's what I'm hoping. (Photo courtesy of lolcats at icanhas.cheezburger.com.)