Missed Volume 1?
I feel like being happy and healthy does not just happen naturally in our society the suburbs. We are bombarded with magazine covers and TV programming slamming us with diet advertisements demanding that we lose weight their way and paper thin models showing off the latest fashions. The cheapest options for a well-rounded looking dinner come off the dollar menus at junk food restaurants.
Fresh, healthy, wholesome food costs me $97 and I walk out of the store with only 4 bags of items. Many of us drive to work, take an elevator up to our office, sit at a desk, (add in lunch trips) take the elevator back down, drive home, sit on the couch, watch TV and order take-out. The social activities outside of work are: dinners, movie watching (where you want to get popcorn and candy and soda!!!) potlucks, BBQs, ice cream stores or coffee dates. We eat and eat and eat and sit and sit and sit.
Without being mindful of our activity and food intake, the natural day-to-day activities are nothing but an EXTREMELY sedentary lifestyle.
I could go on and on. We know what day-to-day life is like for us in cities like this.
One of the most difficult things I ever had to do was break away from TWENTY YEARS of being bombarded with this kind of lifestyle in the suburbs. I never knew that being active would be something that would have to fight against the “natural order of daily life” every single day. I just don’t live in an extremely active community. We drive everywhere, and there is every type of tasty food known to mankind at every corner! The intersection I live at has a grocery store on every single corner. FOUR STORES.
Plus no less than 3-5 restaurants at each corner as well. How many intersections are in my town? Lots. I’ll tell you that.
I work in a different city than I live in. The city I work in has more restaurants per capita (i.e. more restaurants per person) than any other city in the entire country. Yeah. Chew on that one!
So why cook a healthy meal? Why not frequent any number of these fabulous places? So we do. And yet no one sees behind the curtain at how much fattening ingredients are used in these dishes, not to mention the insane portions that are served out to you. And you have to clear your plate. Didn’t you ever hear of the Clean Plate Club? You must be a part of it. No one likes being wasteful and a to-go box is just a pain in the ass. What about the starving children in Africa? You are going to throw that food away while other people are starving? What’s wrong with you? <—my favorite reason for being a proud member of this club for many years.
Not to mention asking for changes/subsitutions/a to-go box too early gets all kinds of judgementally attitude from the server or they just look at you like you are totally insane. And then the food comes out and nothing you have requested has gotten done. Been there. Done that. GOT THE T-SHIRT
How about this idea for the Clean Plate Club? Eating CLEANER.
Why are things so fattening and the portions so huge? Well, because they taste good. And we want lots of what tastes good. The restaurants want their patrons to come back so they serve good tasting food the easiest/cheapest way for these huge chains (Chili’s, Red Lobster, On the Boarder, anyone?) by ladening their dishes with butter and oil and cheese.
So what happens? Our waistlines grow larger and larger, and we get more and more depressed and dissatisfied with our appearance. We feel like failures even though the natural way of things almost GUARANTEE us to become overweight and miserable. The Diet Industry thrives on this, I can tell you that much.
Our sedentary lives give us no kind of endorphin rush that we get from being active except on the rare occasion we go somewhere like 6 Flags or the State Fair. Ever notice how walking around all day puts you in a good mood? (Okay not at the very end when you are tired and sore, but you catch my drift). But of course they are too busy selling the newest Deep Fried Butter or Fried Ice Cream. You think I’m kidding?
This situation frustrates me, if you can’t tell. Don’t get me wrong. I do love my city for all of its other grand features (extremely safe, perfect city planning and road maintenance) but being active and healthy in a community like this one makes me feel secluded and broke a lot of the time (I’ll never let go of that $97 day). Jogging down the street all by myself hoping I won’t get hit by a car is a fine example and the jogging “paths” we do have are the stretches of green where the huge electricity towers run…so they attempted to do double duty and make it a park. Sure. WHATEVER.
*Steps off soap box*
Perhaps I’ve gotten a bit off track. Wasn’t this series supposed to be about being positive? My apologies for the digression.
But I was making a point, being both happy and healthy did not come naturally to me, growing up with my city. It was a conscious choice. The being happy part happened as you read in my last post, in March of 2006.
If I had to slap an official date on the day I chose to get healthy and I mean REALLY healthy, it would be July 3rd 2007.
I didn’t realize this series would get so long, but I’m going to have to break it up into chunks so as to not overwhelm everybody (and myself).