• Nobody tells me what to do — including myself

    In July I’m going to be 59. It’s just a number to me, other than having to deal with the random aches and pains that come up a bit more frequently these days.

    Except for one fact: My dad had a massive heart attack when he was 59. He somehow managed to survive the next 20 years with a decent quality of life, even though he experienced four cardiac arrests and the implantation of two defibrillators.

    He was only 59. It makes me think…

    Yes, I do have some hereditary health issues – borderline diabetes 2 and slightly high triglycerides – which are currently well-controlled by medication. But my doctor says that if I lost 10 pounds, I could probably get off of the meds.

    I’ve thought about it, but until now I haven’t felt particularly motivated. Losing weight requires you to EAT LESS FOOD and MOVE MORE. I happen to like my lifestyle the way it’s been, thank you very much. However, there’s no arguing with family history and the march of time. I may be stubborn but I’m not stupid.

    So. I have some friends who are currently using the Jenny Craig weight-loss system and they seem pleased with the program. I like the philosophy, and particularly the UPS-delivered prepared meals they send you in the beginning. They get me going without me having to make the hard decisions. And it’s simple to transition to self-prepared meals.

    Only one major problem – the portions they give me are leprechaun-sized. No kidding. They say that this is the “normal” way to eat for someone my size and it does make sense. Apparently restaurant serving portions have increased over the years until we now think it’s normal to eat twice as much as we’re supposed to be eating. And I haven’t helped the situation by using large dishes at home. I’m used to filling my plate.

    Which brings me to my situation: Here I am, logically understanding and accepting the need to lose some weight and get more active. I’ve selected a good self-management program to help me do those. And then I proceed to argue with my food every day.

    Each morning I take out my little prepared breakfast, plus the recommended amounts of milk and fruit. The food’s not bad at all. It’s just – tiny. It’s even filling, most of the time, and if it’s not I can add my own unlimited fruits and vegetables to round it out. But I can’t seem to get past the size of the portion. When you’ve been filling your cereal bowl to near the brim, it just doesn’t seem right to stop half-way up.

    What I have, I realize, is a psychological problem. I resent being told exactly how much to eat, even if I agree with the premise. I guess I don’t like been instructed what to do, even by myself. I heard once that my knee-jerk response might be related to the fact that I was a breech baby at birth and that in those days I had to be dragged out of the womb with forceps, kicking and screaming. It wasn’t a good way to be introduced to authority.

    So with most things, including how much I eat and exercise, I like to make my own rules and then of course feel compelled to resist them.

    I converse with my food portions, even while I’m consuming them. Last night, for example, I had some yummy chicken fettuccine and salad. The fettuccine noodles slid right through the creamy sauce, and my lips could have sucked them down until my stomach couldn’t take anymore. But since the portion was perfectly (damnably!) sized to be just right for me, I was finished in 5 minutes. I stretched the dish out as long as I could, and prayed that a little miracle would produce more of it. Sad, huh?

    The upside to all of this is that I’ve already lost 5 pounds, I’m walking more and have extra energy.

    But… I have to deal with the fact that this needs to be my future as well as my present. It’s not just about the weight loss, and getting off the prescription meds. It’s about reeducating my brain to accept a healthier path as normal. A path that includes Lilliputian-sized food portions and regular exercise. While part of me complains, “It’s not fair to have to keep doing this forever,” the other part understands that sometimes you just have to go with the program.

    And I will do exactly that – kicking and screaming.

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