The truth is this: I am not healthy.
Now, I don’t have any “real” issues, like diabetes or heart disease, but I am not healthy. I am only thirty and not only have I been overweight for the last twelve years, but I am also pretty sure that my liver is as preserved as can be by all the difficult to pronounce and spell preservatives in the food-like substances that I ingest daily.
I am not overweight for lack of trying. I have done low-carb, low calorie, low fat, you name it. They are impossible to lose weight and keep it off if you do not keep to a rigorous and BORING eating style. I can’t live that way. I was a member of a very popular dieting group with meetings and counting for a little over a year. I was dedicated heart and soul for most of that year, and I only lost sixteen pounds. That’s not a bad thing, except that I was about sixty pounds overweight when I joined. Not cool.
I was curious as to why that didn’t work for me. I have to say that I wonder if it might be because so much of what was deemed “healthy” and “ok” to eat involved preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, refined flour, and fake crap. Let’s face it, no one likes it when you have the realization that you are eating crap. In some cases (such as ground beef) it could literally be crap. Ew!
After my experience with that diet, I kind of gave up for a while, until one fateful day at the food court of The Mall of Georgia. I had ordered a gyro with lamb on it. I was enjoying it alright, but I had been toying with the notion of giving up meat. I did in high school for a while, so I knew that I could do it. There are ethical issues involved that I will explore more in depth at a later date as well. I mention that I was considering going meatless to the love of my life who, in all his sensitivity, picks up a scrap of the meat and gives it a little voice and says, “Oh, don’t eat me… noooo,” and eats it.
He likes to tell this story because he describes my welling up slowly with tears and the one single drop that falls. That did it. I was a vegetarian at that point. I still ate dairy and eggs, but no meat. I did this for a while until I got pregnant, at which time I changed my dietary habits to include some very odd meals. I ended up with preeclampsia at the end, and my blood pressure was through the roof.
I said all that to say that the health choices I’ve made have left me overweight and with high blood pressure that did not go away post-partum. Boo!
Now, if you want to throw in the other driving force that has influenced me, it would have to be the wonderfully honest Michael Pollan. I read In Defense of Food last summer, and it opened my eyes to how important it is to be in contact with the sources of the foods that we eat. He sings the praises of eating locally grown food and non-factory farmed meat and dairy. I loved his ideas. I got to thinking, however, with the idea that we should be in contact with our foods more, I knew I would have to give up meat again. I couldn’t handle my husband holding up an anthropomorphic piece of lamb, so I knew I couldn’t go see animals who are alive and then eat them. I also couldn’t afford free range eggs and dairy regularly, so it’s easiest for me to just give them up altogether.
I’m not alone in that boat. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper to eat Hamburger Helper and give the kids Beefaroni than it is to eat fresh, local, organic foods. That’s why lower income families are often overweight. I’m not being mean; it’s simply true.
So, I decided that I would take a year out of my life to experiment. My goal is to try different (small) budgets, different sources, different recipes, and spend an entire year doing my darndest to eat whole, natural food without preservatives or refined wheat and sugars. I will try wholeheartedly to eat as much locally grown food as I can.
Now, I will provide this one caveat: I am a southern girl. I have never met a vegetable that I could not batter and fry. I have eaten deep fried candy bars and Oreos. Yes, they exist. I am a sucker for Dairy Queen Blizzards, and I don’t like weird stuff. I’m not even crazy about vegetables, so this is a sacrifice.
I have heard, however, that one can retrain the old taste buds to enjoy vegetables, and it only takes about a month. We shall see.
I vow a few things:
I will be honest. If it sucks, I will tell you. If it’s difficult, I will tell you. If it’s awesome, I will tell you!
I will give resources and links to the places that I go. I will talk to farmers when I can, and I will get to the heart of the matter.
I will not get all annoying yuppie/hippie on you. I will do my best not to get self-righteous and judgmental while I share my experience.
I will remain my ridiculous, snarky, sarcastic self in my telling of the experiences this next year.
There are a lot of things that are disposable in this world where we live; our bodies are not on that list. I’m doing what I can to take care of mine. Join me in my journey, and let me know what you think! Tell your friends. Link me on your Facebook or blog. I want this to be big. I want to start a movement. I want regular people with normal jobs to know that if I can do it, they can, too.