Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jenny's Thoughts on Moderation and Health

I suppose food and health have always been a focus of my life. 

As a little kid, I decided I didn’t like hardly anything I was forced or asked to eat.  I would put whatever I was supposed to eat in my mouth, and then pretend to wipe my mouth, while spitting the food into my napkin, asked to be excused and proceed to throw it away in the bathroom trash can.  I was obviously a picky eater; except for desserts.  Somewhere along the lines I determined I love all things sweet and chocolate.  (Thanks Dad)  A particular memory of when I was about six or so, is going to Ponderosa (my family was living the high life) and refusing to eat anything my parents put on my plate; until I noticed the ice cream buffet.  Afraid I would get in trouble for not eating the proper food, but wanting ice cream, I didn’t say anything, just sitting there hungry.  Somehow my parents figured out what I wanted and I got the opposite response.  They would let me have all the ice cream I wanted as long as I ate something.  I suppose they were tired of fighting the battle.  Needless to say, I had ice cream for dinner.

You would think having that sort of attitude as a little kid, I would have been overweight (only wanting sweets) but I wasn’t.  Whatever little I ate, I hopped, ran and played off.  I mention hopped because I was so full of energy, I never walked anywhere, I hopped or skipped.  My dad nicknamed me Tigger because of that.  But I digress. 

I think, ultimately, my parents were my source of “healthy” eating, for both good and bad reasons.  My mom’s family has a history of high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  Therefore, my mom began fixing every low and no cholesterol foods she could find, before the “trend” was popular.  My mom has a vast medical background, so she knew enough that fat was bad as was fried food.  She owned heart healthy, anything healthy, no and low cholesterol cookbooks.  Fortunately, my mom was a good cook and wasn’t above trying new things.  So my taste buds were used to having new things on them.  By the same token, however, both my mom and dad always battled their weight.  My dad didn’t have any will power when it came to food.  He told me he had been forced to be part of the “clean plate club” as a little kid, and fully believed he didn’t know when he was full.  He could eat until he was sick.  Out of that, he said that’s why he never forced me to finish my plate.  “I don’t want you ending up like me.”  My mom has all kinds of will power, but despite whatever she cooked that was healthy, she still struggled with her weight.  I think part of that was never having or allowing for time to get proper exercise in, either. 

I must add that my attitude of not liking anything tended to come from my mom.  It seems rather contradictive to say; she would be willing to try out all kinds of new recipes, but when we would go out to eat anywhere, she would stick to what she knew and if something didn’t look or sound appealing, she wouldn’t go for it.  I wanted to be just like my mom, so I followed suit with whatever she did, or didn’t do.  This aggravated my dad.  He had been in the military and been all over the world, so he was able to try all kinds of things.  His favorite was Asian food.  Finally, one day, I got a lecture at an Asian restaurant from him that I didn’t know if I didn’t like something unless I tried it.  For whatever reason, that stuck and I began trying different things.  To this day, I am still grateful for that lecture. And I love Asian food.

At the same time I say I liked very little and really only liked desserts, somewhere I had tried vegetables, all kinds, raw and steamed, with dressing, basically in any form and I liked them…no loved them.  The only one I haven’t really found a liking to is peas.  Tried ‘em, didn’t like ‘em, looks like diarrhea when you eat ‘em.  That being said, as I got older, I understood my parents struggle with weight.  Well, I can’t say I understood, it, but I respected it.  In that sense, I knew I never wanted to deal with that struggle and did everything I could not to end up like either of them. (I don’t mean that offensively, but rather, never wanted to deal with being overweight and then struggling to get it off.)

I had a little background in healthy living/food from my mom so as I got older and was able to make my own decisions about what I ate; I was able to make more healthy decisions.  I have to say though that I wasn’t an entirely healthy eater, nor am I now; it’s a constant process of learning to making the right decisions.  I still love Burger King, Taco Bell, Blue Bell ice cream, Mountain Dew and yes (God help me) Bologna.  However, all these things are in very little moderation.  Very little.  I drink more water than any other drink.  It’s always been my favorite thing to drink.  Part of eating poorly in moderation comes from not only feeling guilty about what I’m putting in my body, but also because I’ve been plagued with migraines my entire life.  Therefore I watch everything I eat or drink—not enough water and too much salt=’s a migraine, not enough water at all=’s migraine, too much caffeine=’s migraine, too much salt=’s migraine…you get the picture.  In my early 20’s, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, so reading ingredients etc., has become a regular thing for me, to see what may affect this.  My dad passed away from esophageal cancer, so when I began having acid reflux symptoms, I saw the doctor and again, made changes in my diet to counteract the effects I was having.

Aside from eating properly (or not in some cases) I have always tried to keep exercise in my life in some form or another.   Again, this comes from my parents.  I can still hear my mom say “Go run some of your energy off!”  As a teenager, my bike was my constant companion.  As was my “Fabio Fitness” vhs tape. (Insert laughter here)  As I’ve gotten older, I still make daily conscience decisions to get some form of exercise in my life.  I park further out at the store to be able to walk, whenever I eat anything, I try never to sit too long, I get up and move; I have stairs in my house and will purposely make more than one trip for the exercise. I use the Wii (purposely having bought the exercise games). My husband I take evening walks around the neighborhood.  (I might add that my husband struggled with his weight growing up, but after a stint in the Marines, and wanting to continue that weight loss, he became a “gym rat,” and still is. He also knows a bit about eating healthy and making healthy choices, so this helps. He measured our distance around the neighborhood so we know, depending on the route we take, we walk either 1 or 2 miles…) For my birthday this year, I bought myself an elliptical machine and I love it.  It’s not something I use every day, but I make an effort to use it at least once a week.  This may sound bad, but as I said, I tend to do anything I can to get in some form of exercise every day; so if I don’t use it, I do something else.  I am fortunate that my office sits way back off the road and has a very long access road to the main street.  My boss is supportive of me just getting away from my desk and going for a walk. 

As I said, eating healthy and learning more about my body is a constant process.  I love to learn from other people and what they do to stay and be healthy. I love learning new forms of exercise. (One day I will get myself in that pool!) That is very important to me.  I have always and I guess will always struggle with will power against eating the “wrong” things. (I tend to go with the “everything in moderation” motto, but I’d still like the healthy foods to outweigh the non-healthy foods) I’d like to lose a little bit of weight, or at least tone up what I have, but overall I’m happy with how I look for being 33.

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