Saturday, February 27, 2010



I’ll admit it. I think there is a cosmic injustice in this world. Good foods are bad for you. Chocolate makes you fat, big thick potato chips will give you heart disease, & Ben & Jerry will ultimately clog your arteries (and they seemed like such nice, organic guys). The list goes on. I think in primitive times, the bad foods gave some kind of a warning, like they tasted so bitter your tongue swelled and your eyes burned. What the hell happened?

I realize that modern technology, food research and the profit motive have all conspired to make foods which are simply attractive and addictive. Quite the advancement. They scientifically know how to give you a false heroin-like high of pleasure while they slowly hook and kill you. Has anyone investigated whether the food industry and the healthcare industry hold clandestine conferences where they plot their evil symbiotic ways?

I was reading in Kessler’s book, “The End of Overeating”, how food scientists engineer their food to have all kinds of perfection qualities, which will taste good, feel good and make you want more. He calls a Snickers bar the perfect food for it’s firm but biteable chocolate, soft nougat that just melts, and layer of salty peanuts coated with caramel. All these elements combine to give you just the right balance of chewy, salty and sweet to produce a satisfying "mouth feel". Maybe my subconscious thinks my mouth is actually exercising to eat it's chewy goodness. I suppose I should try and associate the evil research behind these addictive foods to something akin to cigarettes, but I can’t seem to link the two as evil equals. I know cigarettes are bad, but they have the added benefit of IMMEDIATELY making you smell bad, pant when you walk uphill and are considerably more expensive. That makes it easier for my mind to reject. Snickers, reject? Not so much.

So, obviously Mother Nature and God combined didn’t mean for us to have no alternative to Snickers, pudding and Kettle chips. We have fruits and vegetables. In fact, modern wisdom has us eating five servings a day. As though that solves everything. Really? Not for me.

I have a thing about fruit. As immoral as it sounds, I have a problem with fruit. It’s about expectations and disappointment. Fruit isn’t consistent. When I have a bite of the perfect strawberry, or the perfect orange, it crosses my mind that this is my answer to the foods mentioned above. But it only takes one rotten strawberry that I didn’t see coming, or one overly ripe orange to rip that determination away from my temporary health kick. Watermelon would be my favorite food on the planet if it promised to never be mealy or bland. After all, you never have a mealy or bland Snickers bar. Is that too much to ask? Apparently. Vegetables don’t let me down in quite the same way, but there are only so many I can truly say I like, and probably proportionally more that I absolutely, truly object to. On a daily basis, 5 is harder to achieve than it might seem.

Now let's talk about Yo Yo dieting - I can’t afford to gain any more weight. So, that’s the end of diets for me. I did Weight Watchers. Lost 17 pounds. (Parenthetically, just as I was achieving my goal weight, my husband left me.) Over the course of the next few years, I found it all. And then some. Happily remarried, and with someone for whom food is a fun activity to be enjoyed (vs., the previous dude who hated all sweets, meats and carbs), I not only found the pounds I’d lost, but found some that other people had apparently lost. But it was a happy reunion. See, there’s not really an emotional downside to gaining weight. For me, it’s usually associated with celebration, with doing what feels good. Why can’t it hurt? I then tried doing South Beach with my second husband. After all, we were both feeling the effects of our newly married celebratory food over dosing on our waistlines. We both lost weight. But with such a restrictive regimen as South Beach's Phase I, as soon as I was done with it, I couldn’t see my way to continuing on with Phases II and III. It’s always the maintenance that overwhelms me. After no carbs, I pretty much wanted all the carbs. Again, I found every single pound I’d lost. AND THEN SOME I didn’t even know I’d lost. Now I am paralyzed with fear. I can’t go on another diet. I cannot afford to weigh more than I do now.
Well, that’s the food conspiracy. Let’s talk about the exercise. I know that the real answer to any weight management issue is the old calories in, calories out. So, theoretically, I could eat anything if I just exercised enough. Michael Phelps with his 12 daily big Macs and In-N-Out milkshakes. Obviously I don’t swim for a living. In fact, truth be told, I have a long list of problems with exercise. I’m just telling the truth here.
1. I don’t like to sweat. (That alone could explain everything)
2. I find it hard to make the time. It isn’t that I don’t have it. I do. But on a cold or blustery morning, when I’m so cozy sitting in bed after the kids go to school and I have my computer and newspaper and coffee, I find myself resisting getting up, snapping on that restrictive jogging bra (which let’s face it, I just need because of my losing struggle with the Snickers war), pulling on my sweats which look ginourmous, throwing the inserts into my athletic shoes (which I now need because my extra weight has put stress on my plantars fasciitis), and going out to do anything.
3. And then if I go hike, or treadmill, or whatever, I’ll end up sweaty, stinky, needing a shower. That adds another half hour to my day. Not the end of the world, but it does sort of tip the scale towards inaction.
4. Exercises which would really help to burn fat and increase metabolism are even more complicated. I’d have to work my way up to jogging and that can take weeks of dedicated effort before you’re even closer to an endorphin rush. Weight lifting is fun and can aid metabolism, but you really have to push yourself. I find I can only push so hard. Swimming is something I even enjoy, but it’s has it’s own avoidance opportunities (the look of me in a swimsuit?). You can’t hide what’s inside, can you?
5. I can walk. I do walk. Just not enough or with enough consistency to make a difference.
6. Lastly, there is an exercise I love. I could do it for hours with joy and satisfaction. It works my arms, my abs, my legs. I sweat, but I don’t notice. The scenery is thrilling and I get to see one of favorite animals up close. No, not sex with my new husband, but kayaking. And in that same cosmic joke injustice, kayaking is not exactly easy to do all year. The lightest kayak I’ve found is too heavy for me to lift and maneuver by myself, so I had to rely on UCLA’s marine center. Just as I had figured out that as my venue, I find out that it is closed in the exact hours that would otherwise allow me to kayak every day. I have from 9-2 free; they have it closed from 9-3. I need a lake with a dock where the kayak is easy to just lower into the water. That isn’t possible around here. (oh, the animal I can see up close is the pelican.)

Well, when all is said and done, I would say it isn’t all said and done,,, yet. I’m ok with where I am, because in general in my life I’m happy. And I really don’t think the secret to success or joy is to be stick skinny. I will walk. I might even learn to jog. I will continue to explore the world of fruits and vegetables. I will control myself around sweets even if I grumble while I do it. And I might even let Ben & Jerry off the hook for tempting me. But I also might continue to rail against the cosmos for putting all these thoughts in my head.

And then, there’s always sex.


  1. Let's go kayaking! I have an ocean-going inflatable one, even you could lift it! :)))

  2. I applaud you for even trying to put an optimistic ending on that piece. The fat wars are hell.
    amy g koss