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.

We, who are also battling the bulge, are not amused by your self-absorbed, entitled attitude toward your first world problems, Donkey. Suck it up, buttercup.

 (Photo courtesy of Pixabay. I could post pictures of highly processed and attractive food items, but I CHOOSE NOT TO. I feel the pounds falling off already.)

 And, to lighten the mood a wee bit, this picture -

- 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


Elephant's Child said...

Yay you. Ephiphanies are always welcome. Even when shamefaced I am forced to admit that I should have had them years ago. Decades ago.
I too am restricting my diet. For my height to match my weight I would need to be a redwood. Since my upward growth has stopped, I need to address the sideways spread. Made difficult because himself has a sweet tooth and can eat with impunity.
Perhaps we can cheer each other (and many others) on.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Overweight, underweight, there are very few people (over the age of 10) who are not fighting some weight battle.

Joanne Noragon said...

Good for you! I had the food realization years ago. Once we ate properly. Right up until the invention of white sugar and white flour. I read a statement: there were no ulcers before white sugar. I got it. Sweet stuff came from trees before that, and you worked hard to get it. Flour was milled grain; a treat was a small cake. Frosting was unheard of. Oh, wait, we worked hard for all our food. Grew it, raised it, slaughtered it, harvested it. We need to eat to live; many, many, many of us live to eat. We have been sold such a bill of goods.
Congratulations on turning the page. You can get to and maintain any weight you want, and you know why you are doing it. For you health.

Steve Reed said...

I appreciate the honesty of this post! Believe me, you are certainly NOT alone. We all have to make decisions about what we do and don't consume, and many, many people who don't look like they struggle actually do, as you point out. (And some are struggling against other less obvious things -- alcohol, for example.) I'm glad Wal-Mart is good for something! :)

Jono said...

You are definitely not alone. If I walk a lot I can fight it off, BUT, winter, ice, cold, etc. makes it only work in the not winter time of year. Mind over cravings is difficult on a good day, but just keep trying. Every now and then something good happens.

only slightly confused said...

You have set yourself free...congratulations.

jenny_o said...

You made me smile with the redwood comparison!

I knew this thing intellectually, but I did not know it deep inside, and that is what changed. It's embarrassing to admit, but there it is.

And some people do have magic metabolisms, don't they? But perhaps we can't all have everything, and I know your SP has had his share of other health issues.

I would love to cheer everyone on!

jenny_o said...

Thanks for stopping by. Yes, as I wrote above to EC, I knew that fact in some part of my brain, but it hadn't completely registered. Now it has.

jenny_o said...

Good summary, Joanne. I hope you're right. I feel optimistic.

jenny_o said...

Good points, Steve. They've been filed away in my noggin with the Walmart experience!

Yep, greeting cards and ephiphanies - Walmart hit a home run that day :)

jenny_o said...

Nature seems to want us to store up fat, it seems, especially in cold climates. Thanks for the encouragement, Jono.

jenny_o said...

It wasn't me, it was Walmart! Thanks, Delores.

Janie Junebug said...

What a great post. I've been fighting the battle of the bulge for about eight years. It's so hard, but we're not alone.


Red said...

Good luck on your journey. success is well worth while.

Mr. Shife said...

Keep fighting the good fight with the weight. I can totally relate. My weight has slowly creeped up this year and now I have to actually work at it to keep it off. It was never an issue before but my slowing metabolism and aging are conspiring against me. Hope the warmer weather arrives soon. Take care and have a great weekend as well.

jenny_o said...

I don't know why it was so hard to internalize that. Thanks, Janie.

jenny_o said...

You're right! And good luck is always appreciated.

jenny_o said...

I SO wish I had doubled down on this when the weight started to go on. I never thought it would be so hard to lose.

Waiting for warmer weather here too.

dinthebeast said...

Realizing you're not alone is powerful, actually saves lives sometimes. Deep down in our evolution we need a tribe to belong to, and we often don't even realize that's what we need until we bump into something that gives it to us. Sometimes that can be really good, sometimes not, but knowing about it can clear up enough of the mystery to allow for good choices (sometimes).
I got really lucky when my post-stroke metabolism reset didn't start me putting on weight from my former diet, but I have also improved my diet somewhat. Still, I try to be thankful for that bit of good fortune, as I have friends who weren't so lucky.
Fuzzy hats are political now, and also sometimes adorable:

-Doug in Oakland

jenny_o said...

Highly adorable! I love it!

And thank goodness for small (maybe large) mercies, eh? Well done on making changes as well.

e said...

Wow...a kindred spirit at last! Hugs and may you make the best of your life every day.

Martha said...

You have incredible insight. That is such a great thing. I hear you, my fellow resister. I too have chosen to eat healthier and fight the good fight. Like you, I was a scrawny kid and an underweight young adult. Then as I got older, the amazing metabolism I had started slowing down. And when menopause hit - BAM - my metabolism went on an extended vacation. And it hasn't returned yet. So now I'm very careful about what I eat - and don't eat. There are many of us in this club, so let's lean on each other :)

Geo. said...

O_Jenny, I'm 67 years old and still have habits I should give up. Your post helps me to at least cut down on them. Sometimes it's reduced to a battle between addiction and anxiety. Next step is always uncertain --however, I do seem to keep going back to my therapist. Best wishes to you in happiness and progress.

jenny_o said...

E, it feels like there may be more of us out there than I suspected ... hugs to you, too.

jenny_o said...

Thanks, Martha. I don't know why this was so hard for me to figure out! I knew it in one sense, but it's so much clearer now.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Geo. - and to you. Let's keep fighting, in all the ways we can.

baili said...

I can feel your situation dear friend as i too was very fond of spicy food and chocolates and sweets.
I suffered with stomach ulcer for fifteen years unknowingly. After almost 3 years treatment i recovered from this but i had to eliminate all my favourites though i found it hard earlier but now i am used to it .
I am glad that you understood that only YOU can help yourself my dear.hope wish and pray that you will stick with your positive plans and get good results out of it.hugs!

jenny_o said...

That is a long time to be suffering from a stomach ulcer - how painful, baili. I'm glad you have recovered. And I know you understand the restrictions of a different diet. I have much optimism now about being able to follow a better plan and being happy about it!