Tuesday, June 2, 2009

#46 Things that Make Me Go Ah-Ha

Oh, I wish for so many things, like peace on earth, an end to global warming [and adult acne], and of course skinny thighs. I wasn't a chubby kid, but I was one of those meaty ones whose cute tushy and chunky thighs screamed, "take a nibble". Well, those thighs are still somewhat ample, but I'm not so sure that they are yummy anymore nor cute. Actually, my husband kind of liked "rolly polly" when I was combing the thesaurus for the right word to describe my thighs.

Cheerfully, I'm going to move away from descriptive thigh words and talk about my ah-ha's. I was in the salon reading the December 2008 Allure Magazine the other day when I came across an article called the Total Makeover. It showed 3 women in their before and after photos with their before and after weights and measurements for the readers to ooh and ahh over. Each woman talked about their professions, how they changed their diet, exercise, food plans, goals, etc. Heather, 31 and a University Fund-Raiser, said that her favorite tip was to make a list of the foods that she had been abusing. She said, ..."after she wrote them down, it was relatively simple to avoid them". This wasn't a major ah-ha for me, but I'm definitely going to try this. I've heard before that once you share something, or journal it, it loses its power over you. Let's hope.

Ok, onto other things that make me go ah-ha. I was thumbing through a book called The Hunger Within and saw something that rang true [no longer, thank g-d] for me. In this chapter, the author is working with a group of people who are sharing their histories. They discuss the "fat me" and the "thin me" and how their life, work and relationships would be different if they were thin. As I'm hearing their words in my head, I realize that they are using their body weight [ok, this is where I saw me] as protection, like a suit of armor. Because my body matured early, older boys and men would say things to me and interact with me like I was a woman. The problem was, chronologically I was 13, physically I looked 18, but my emotional/sexual mind was still a tween. The author says, "when your early environments were not safe and did not allow us to have effective boundaries, increased body weight can become an imaginary boundary". All I have to say about this is that I wish the weight was imaginary too. I mean I put on some serious boundary there for a while.

Next ah-ha, French women don't get fat -- or something like that. I was reading a blog recently where the blogger talked about her stay in France and of course the food she ate there... chocolate sandwiches for lunch, a pastry here, hot chocolate there. Well, you get the idea. She worried that when she arrived home and stepped on the scale things would not be so jolie [pretty in french speak]. However, when she did step on the scale, Voila... she had actually lost 3 pounds. She attributes this weight loss to all the walking and climbing -- certainly not her dieting. My ah-ha is that perhaps it's the consistent "exercising" that stokes the fire all day and helps the [french] body burn calories. I wonder if our working out for an hour in the morning [perhaps] does nothing for us in the afternoon. The French are walking or biking to and from stores, school and work, and if they take the bus, they may have to walk a mile or two each way. A couple of summers ago, in addition to my morning workout, I used to walk every evening after dinner. I had no trouble maintaining my weight that whole summer. This is something I think I need to revisit!!

Enough ah-ha's... Our raison d'etre [reason to be] should not be to cherchez et mange la plus [look for and eat the most]. As De La Sabliere says, "Il est difficle de vaincre ses passions, et impossible de les satisfaire" (It is difficult to master your passions and impossible to satisfy them). Sadly, it seems that for us food passionate people, sont vissées [we are screwed].


Michael said...

This IS one of those a-ha moments for me. Not a weight, body image, food issue a-ha moment but an invisible hand of the universe, Jungian, synchronistic, a-ha moment... The French Paradox!
This is not anything I had ever really heard of before. Well, I did hear about the French Women's Diet thing a few years ago, eat fat, drink wine, get thin, but not that it had a specific name anyway.

So, last week I read about The French Paradox for the first time in a book I highly recommended and just finished reading, “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan (get it, very important reading). And now, VOILA, here it appears in Bobbies Babbles. Fantastique! The French Paradox. Hmmm, think I wanna be French! I also think the universe is sending me a message so I am paying attention. And this is what I think it is telling me:

The basic scoop on this paradox is that the French, (as well as the Italians, Greeks, etc.) who eat more fat than we Americans do, drink more and even smoke more, do not get as overweight and maintain better overall health and have lower national rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer than us. We can ponder and be perplexed by this but we should'nt. Here is the bottom line…

Our friends across the pond do not eat processed foods, or trans fats, or hydrogenated this or that, nor high fructose corn syrup. What they do eat is real food, nutritionally dense, grown in good soil and presented for sale within a few short days or being harvested. And the meat they consume is from animals fed well, not factory farmed on a diet of nutritionally depleted, pesticide filled, over fertilized crud. In addition to the quality of their food, as rule they eat fewer calories, take longer to consume them (chew before swallowing, what a great idea) and really enjoy it more. When asked the first thing that came to mind when shown a photo of chocolate cake, Americans more than any other answer said “guilt”. The French response was “celebration”.

Our American food psyche is really screwed up. We love our bad food and hate ourselves for eating it. Our portion sizes are insane. We eat until we have nothing left on the plate relying on visual cues rather than on our bodies telling us we have had enough.

Our U.S. dietary supply chain is a mess! It is comprised of agriculture raised on farms that use only three basic chemical fertilizers and loads of pesticides. It produces food stuffs that are void of many of the nutrients that were present in them 40 years ago before the farm became a factory. These substandard foods then become the processed crap Twinkies are made of. The animals we eat are raised on this same crap as well. Factory farmed corn, wheat and soybeans grown the same way and thus nutritionally depleted. As we American humans are the final stop on the food chain brought to you by Kraft and friends you have to wonder... are we eating right? And if the links in that chain have become weaker and weaker as big agri-biz re-tools it in the name of faster food and bigger profits, what are the results for our health?

The answer? The French Paradox! Sadly though, the result is not so much that there actually is a French Paradox but more that we are witnessing an American dietary train wreck! The Western diet is so bad and deleterious that a regular, normal, fairly healthy diet eaten in another country just seams paradoxical. There is no magic at work here. They are the norm, we are not. While The French consume real food, unprocessed and full of naturally ocurring nutrients, fat and red wine and dairy and pork and beef and smoke like chimneys and live better lives with less disease, we Americans pour high fructose corn syrup (hello obesity), hydrogenated soy bean oils (Cholesterol and heart disease please) and poly-goopy-glopacide (cancer of the what?) down our throats and wonder why we have such high rates of illness.

Its no paradox. Its common sense.

OK, that’s my rant!

Anonymous said...

I think you may have something there regarding moving around all day, rather than an hour of exercise followed by mostly sedentary lifestyle. I'm starting to hear rumblings regarding the health and science of this. Exceptionally Fat had a good post about this recently, with a bodybugg chart at http://attrice.wordpress.com, it's called NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis, though I'm probably botching that). Interesting stuff.