By Patrice Lockert Anthony
I love food. I am a foodie. My being a foodie is not the reason, though, that I am overweight. It is a common misperception that being overweight is directly related to how much food we eat. It is indirectly related. Everybody eats, yet everybody is not overweight. It is not about eating. It isn't even, necessarily, about what we eat. It is directly related to why we eat, how we eat, and where we eat. The food itself is ancillary.
I am not losing weight because I am eating less food. I am losing weight because I have shifted my focus. I am losing weight because I've decided some other things are weighted (pun intended) as being of more importance. I am losing weight because my body is not designed to give out at age fifty-three. Imagine living your life as a disciplined worker and achiever. You've gained all you sought. It's time to retire, but you can't enjoy the retirement you planned because your health is failing, or has failed. And it's your doing. Imagine living with that knowledge.
I believe in sweat equity. I put a lot of sweat equity into my company, my writing, and my teaching. Why should my body, my overall health, be of any less import? Many years ago, in a universe far, far away (Los Angeles), I worked for a bank. A couple of my colleagues had a very troubled relationship. One of the colleagues was quite heavy, and the other tall and lean. In yet another "set to" one day, the heavy colleague told the lean colleague to "go eat something" (I'm paraphrasing). With split-second timing, the lean one pivoted, looked the other dead in the eye, and said, "No, thank you, sweetheart. I'm built for speed, not for comfort." It was a stunning (and crushing) blow. At the time, I just thought it was a humiliatingly cruel thing to say.
All these years later, though, I still believe it to have been cruel, and now being not just a little overweight, I also think, "Yeah, that's what I want. I want to be built for speed, rather than comfort." I want to enjoy what my sweat equity has earned. What does that mean? It means I live consciously, not on the cusp where I acknowledge intellectual truth but am unwilling to commit to living the physical truth. It means I seek to learn, apply, and share the knowledge, growth, and transformation.
As I transform my habits, my body, and my life, I will learn to support my emotional health with something other than food. I will learn that my commitment to self is more important than other commitments. Commitment isn't about not failing, but about being willing to try again. I understand I must be vigilant concerning why I eat (because I'm happy or depressed, or because I am hungry and require nourishment). I must be ever vigilant about how I eat (for health and pleasure, or for convenience and self-medication). I must care about where I eat. Americans spend a lot of time eating away from home. And because we're raised to consider value for the dollar, we think if our plates aren't full (or overflowing), we're not getting our money's worth. (Let's not even imagine the damage done at the ubiquitous "all you can eat" buffet.)
I am a foodie, but that does not mean that my pleasure in the flavors, textures, aromas, colors of all that is edible has to be an out-of-control, or mindless, binge. In fact, I believe my pleasure in food can, and will, grow as I change my eating habits. I'll spend more time in contemplation of what I prepare and eat. I'll take more pleasure from a small forkful of whole-wheat pasta drenched in a cabernet red sauce (made from organic tomatoes). I am a foodie ... who will be built for speed. And I will relish the second half of my life because of the transformation.
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