We never repent of having eaten too little. Thomas Jefferson
Human beings, like all life, animal or plants, are designed to function at an optimal level efficiently. Our cells function with the proper balanced intake of nutrients and water. For humans, healthy function of our organs depend on the miles of blood vessels providing oxygen to each cell, and removing waste and carbon dioxide. In modern Man, the abuse our bodies sustains, may be from famine, contaminated water, and communicable diseases in some parts of the world. In the more industrialized communities, air, soil, and water pollution, workplace, family, and cultural demands add stress. Sometimes, our organic machine is more susceptible to wear and tear, with genetic predisposition to behaviors that worsen our health. Just as with too little exercise, too much – combined with anabolic steroid use can be harmful. For most people, use of stimulants (caffeine), prescription and illicit drugs, tobacco, and alcohol keep doctors, Taco Bell, Bristol-Meyers, Anheuser-Busch and all the others in business.
Nearly thirty years after my optimal years were behind me, the mediocre state of my health, from all the reasons already stated a reached a breaking point. Two or perhaps two and a half years ago, I stopped eating certain foods (that I love) when I found an increasingly severe allergic reaction was caused by them containing capsaicin. For several years, boredom and mild depression were comforted by sweets and other unhealthy eating. Ten months ago, I stared at the fat wreck I had become in my vacation pictures and had enough of all of it.
Too many trips to the Emergency Room and hospital stays over twenty-five years because of what went into my mouth. After a bout with the flu, I had lost eight or nine pounds from my peak in November. A ketosis- based diet sounded promising and over three months lost another fifteen pounds. Then my long-compromised intestinal tract put me in the hospital again. This time it put me under the knife. With six weeks of recovery afterward, another twenty pounds melted away. Weight loss became an obsession.
I started the protein shakes to replace meals. At a point I started exercising to stimulate my metabolism and tone muscle. And then I hit a point I stopped losing weight. And the longer this has gone on, the more I became frustrated. And the old negative attitudes and eating to compensate are whispering in the back of my head. The idea that a cheeseburger is not bad for me, or perhaps only one candy bar instead of the fish I had in my lunch cooler. Does it mean I am giving in?
No. I need to repent. It is time to get my dietary monk turned “on”. I’ve missed a couple days already of high intensity exercise. But at home, with the dogs eyeballing their leashes morning and evening, we all can benefit from longer and more energetic walks. And I know that food does not have to be a choice between what is “good for you” or “tastes great”.
Life continually causes stress. But eating unhealthy snacks or sweets, to stay awake when you are waiting to hear your children in a hurricane-flooded part of the country are safe? The temptation is too easy to give in. Get the snacks out of the desk drawer. It is not a test of will when you have a challenge that you have failed many times before. If I am going to be an ascetic, I want to be a dietary ascetic.
It’s in my genes. The ability to focus obsessively and live only with the essentials. Just please send someone to intervene, if the next time you hear from me I am living in the middle of the desert (like my late mother). By myself. Talking to, and answering, horses, burros and dogs. Except for Dexter and Comet. I mean any other dogs. That would mean I’ve gone nuts.