This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve vowed to lose weight. The pleasures of the table are noticeably not lost on either of us. But we’ve decided things must change. The starting point was the decision to use separate shopping carts at the grocery store. This is symbolic of the divergence from the social element of eating generally. By restoring food to its narrow dimension of nutrition we have eliminated a myriad of dietary complexities and social distractions. Eating should after all be a highly personal undertaking. And if this endeavour is to work (by which I mean, if it is to be a serious enterprise) then there is no need to confound it with corporate cooking responsibilities and presentation issues. Just stick to the basics.
It seems that the impetus for this project is nothing more glamorous than the admission of fault and error, perhaps similar to an alcoholic acknowledging his or her drinking problem. Besides being fat is eventually so wearing that one cannot but welcome an alternative. Pointedly the separation of high ambition and conventional society is remarkable in the struggle against almost any addiction. I suspect however that this immediate response is temporary and one which can with time be tempered. But initially there is the requirement for some psychical distance.
While it is difficult to imagine that vanity would have any rôle in weight loss for a person of my age it is nonetheless a factor, not because I hope to look youthful again but because I’d love to disregard the “Big and Tall” section of the men’s haberdashery. The lifetime sentence of having to carry around the equivalent of a 30 lb bag of potatoes stimulates me to modification. Additionally it is axiomatic that losing weight improves one’s health. It is well documented that a proper diet can relieve joint pains, headaches, sleeplessness, heart and liver issues, depression, among many other symptoms.
Yet in spite of all these arguments in favour of losing weight (battling addiction and sense of failure, appealing to vanity and promoting good health) we have trouble committing ourselves to weight loss. Understanding the psychological factors of eating is an illusive goal. It is perhaps easy to say that bad eating habits are nothing more than habits. To an extent that is true. But importantly a good deal of the problem is lack of knowledge not just repetition. The knowledge about food can’t simply be an awareness of a gimmicky diet such as the Atkins Diet which requires very little investigation or intelligence to disclose its failings. We have to understand the nutritional value of different foods. And even when we educate ourselves accordingly we must further make a commitment to doing what is best for our health, not merely to satisfy a hypothetical necessity to reward ourselves or to excuse our excesses by confessing some platitude about “enjoying life while you can” or other entitlement. The deeper truth is that there is a brighter experience of life without the contamination of harmful foods. To continue to eat poorly makes about as much sense as staying in the blazing sun after you have begun to burn.
Frankly I can’t recall ever thinking that life was better because of the Key Lime pie or pecan pie or fudge or sausage or bread-‘n-butter or Roquefort cheese. Those things have about as much sustainability as a cigarette, cigar or tumbler of whiskey in spite of their immediate allure. Sure, they provide a buzz but that hardly recommends them. Eventually we have to admit that there is no deprivation to living well and that that doesn’t mean living large. We owe it to ourselves to calculate our preservation with as much assiduity as anything else we prosecute. If we insist on gambling, chances are we’ll lose the bet.
If nothing else, choosing to eat beneficial foods we have set a goal for ourselves. It is an assignment, a mission, an objective. The tiresome so-called advantages of fine dining or rich foods are no longer convincing. The awkward consequences of such indulgences are painfully obvious. At this threshold it isn’t exactly manifest that we shall succeed but it is certain we shall fail if we don’t try.