I’ve usually been pretty comfortable with my weight. For most of my life, it wasn’t something I thought about much, which is a reflection of viewing myself as medium-size. I’ve always known people who were smaller and people who were larger. Of course, whether I actually was medium-size is up for debate. I also thought I was tall for a while, because I was tall in 8th grade. My college roommate (who had been shorter than me in 8th grade) disabused me of that notion. This lesson has stuck with me: my perception about myself can be pretty flawed.
Right now I weigh less than I have for the last 5 years (and probably longer. This is just as long as I’ve had a scale in my house). I have mixed feelings about sharing this with the world. For one thing, I’ve never been big on dieting. I was raised in a home that didn’t focus much on outward appearance. The impact of our eating on our weight was never discussed (that I remember).
My parents taught us the typical lessons learned from their depression-era parents: be grateful for what you have, eat what’s available, and finish your plate. Both working and raising 7 kids, the meals they made needed to fill two criteria: most of us needed to eat them and they needed to be relatively quick to make. We had lots of processed foods, but there were always fresh fruits and vegetables (not always served with the meal, but they were in the house).
I think my parents did pretty good threading the needle of a society obsessed with thinness and saving time (a combination leading to our obsession with both fast food and fad dieting). That said, there are some things I’ve learned since getting married and being introduced to a different family’s food culture.
First, how to recognize when I’m full. Until recently, my main gauge was whether I’d eaten more than everyone else. After all, men are supposed to eat the most, right? But as I’ve tried to imitate my wife – who is very good at listening to her body – I’ve begun to recognize that I won’t waste away if I stop eating before I feel uncomfortable. Second, breakfast doesn’t come with fruits or veggies. I’m still struggling with this one. My time in Australia actually revealed to me the fact that American breakfast is just an excuse to start the day with dessert. At one of the first activities I attended after I arrived, the Elders’ Quorum (the congregation’s men’s group) played basketball and had pancakes. At 10 in the morning, that seemed sensible to me. Then they served the pancakes with ice cream on top. I was surprised and when I said so, they said, “Pancakes are a dessert, so why not put ice cream on top?” And, well, I’ve couldn’t gainsay them. Third, carbs are not the base of the food pyramid. Why they were placed there in government messaging is a topic for another post, but most of a meal should be fruits and veggies. My favorite guide for how much of various categories to put on your plate is here. Once again, my wife’s example has helped a lot here. Though there is a little part of me that’s sad I’m not baking more often.
Thanks for reading a likely somewhat boring, oddly personal post. This was me priming my brain for writing my novel (which will be less boring, I promise…I hope).