25 January 2012

Being Better to My Body: Day 1

I went to the grocery store yesterday. I spent $114.08 (but saved $32.55 thanks to in-store discounts). My list reads as such:

Kellogg's Raisin Bran $1.93
Kellogg's Raisin Bran $1.93
Quaker Oatmeal Squares $3.00
Quaker Oatmeal Squares $2.42
Mount Olive Garlic Dill Pickles $1.44
Mount Olive Polish Dill Pickles $1.44
Arnold Healthful Nutty Grain Bread $2.98
Laura Lynn Splenda Knock Off $2.48
Extra Apple Pie Gum $1.08
Bass Ale $11.97 (for the hubs)
Daisy Light Sour Cream $1.38
Smart Balance Spread $1.88
Smart Balance Spread $1.88
Skim Milk $2.73
Weight Watchers String Cheese $4.18
Yoplait Light $.75
Yoplait Light $.75
Yoplait Light $.75
Yoplait Light $.75
Purina Dog Chow $12.48
Air Freshener $2.88
Air Freshener $2.88
Frozen Chopped Spinach $2.50
Frozen Chopped Spinach $2.50
Morning Star Black Bean Burgers $2.98
Morning Star Garden Veggie Burgers $2.98
Clementines $6.98 (splurge!)
Berry Boost juice $2.50
Green Goodness juice $2.50
Smart Sausage Italian Style $3.00
Smart Sausage Chorizo Style $3.00
Tamari Almonds $3.62
Blueberries $2.50
Blueberries $2.50
Mushrooms $1.98
Edamame Beans $.85
Eggplant $1.55
Organic Baby Carrots $1.98

For good measure, let's take the beer, dog food, and air fresheners out of the equation, which lowers the bill by $30.21 for a total of $83.87.

Am I worth $83.87?

This question gives me pause. My immediate response is, "Depends on how long that $83.87 lasts." The amount represents 10 percent of my bi-weekly take home. Let's assume that I'm a creative cook with a few things already in my cabinet. Let's assume that I will have to make at least one similar trip to the grocery store and one more at half the cost. At an estimated cost of $210 for the month, groceries will have taken up 13 percent of my take home pay. I spend 24 percent of my take home pay on my half of the mortgage (the hubs and I do our banking in a somewhat complicated arrangement that works for us). The great Jimmy Buffet once sang, "You treat your body like a temple; I treat mine like a tent." And it is with that line in mind that I have decided to be at least half as good to my body as I am to the place it inhabits. In other words, as of today, I am spending the money and making the effort to eat right.

My last post was a cathartic wake-up call to what can only be described as my food addiction. Eating right is no matter of rocket science. There is no great veil of secrecy as to its means and its end. Cheetos = bad. Raw veggies = good. Drink more fluids. Avoid the trans-fats. Watch those carbs and sneaky little calorie bombs like sodas, nuts, and juices, but remember that there is room for most things in moderation.

It is the moderation part with which I have the most difficulty. Once upon a time, I went vegetarian for two months as a self-selected research subject for a graduate paper I was writing about the environmental impacts of our dietary choices. For the record, the average American diet requires the production of a ton and a half of carbon dioxide-equivalent—comprised of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases—compared to a strictly vegetarian diet, say University of Chicago assistant professors of geophysical sciences Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin. Even as a vegetarian, I struggled with moderation. I've always had a love affair with bread, crackers, chips, potatoes, pasta. And it doesn’t matter if its whole-wheat, fiber-enriched, low-fat, baked whatever if you eat the whole damn bag of it. Calories are calories. My weight swung back and forth: up seven pounds after several bagels and then back down to where I started, down a pound, then back up three. Eating wasn’t so much an exercise in not eating meat as it was in self-control.

As I again focus on what I am putting into my body, my intent is not first and foremost to lose weight. Being good to my body is the only thing that I can control about my vascular disease, as unlike high cholesterol, it cannot be treated with a pill. Yes, I need to lose weight. Yes, that will probably happen as a result of being better to my body. I'm okay with that. However, the most important thing as I take on this task is to maintain perspective. For me, this is not simply a matter of a New Year's resolution that occurs presto-chango. This is a matter of retraining my body and my soul. It is what Stanford's behaviorial design expert, BJ Fogg, would call an exercise in small habits created to establish a path in life. 

What I am asking for you to do is to join me in my effort to retrain myself. Perhaps you too wish to make changes in your life. Fantastic. Perhaps you don't. That's fine too. It is my hope that making my goal public will give me a greater sense of accountability, and that the public will both support me in my efforts and hold me responsible for my course of action. Will you help me? 

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