Friday, May 6, 2011

Dieting is not a piece of cake...

Current mood: Hungry
Current song: Imogen Heap - Lifeline

Look at this picture and answer me honestly; which one of those foods would you choose to eat right this second?

If you chose the carrots, I call bullshit. What person, who isn't currently on a diet, would choose plain, dry, raw carrots over a moist, sweet, chocolately cake?  No one, that's who. We're biologically wired to follow our sweet tooth, thanks to evolution. Our primate cousins live on a diet of the ripest fruit they can find, which of course is higher in sugar content.

So why is this bad? Seems like nature to me. It's only thanks to today's neurotic focus on being as healthy as possible that has twisted our thinking. Now, I am all for being healthy. But there are many levels of healthy. Someone can be a bit overweight, and still be healthy. No, in this culture, it's more about appearances than health. A woman can be a smoker, a drinker, out of shape, and low on all the vitamins and nutrients her body needs... but if her metabolism keeps her thin, well that's usually good enough for a man. And vice versa with women looking at men. I always try to keep things gender balanced. Conversely, if a person is healthy, active, in shape, eats well, but is unfortunate enough to have a poor metabolism... nope, not in today's society. Weight is everything.

You don't see male primates choosing their mate based on who eats the least amount of fruit, or which one is thinnest. Well, that's probably because most primates seem to be more or less built the same. When there is not such a wide array of shapes and sizes, males can focus on other *much* more important qualities in a mate, such as climbing and tick picking. If humans were all shaped alike, things would probably be similar. I know I for one would be able to focus much better on a guy's skill to pull junk from my hair if I wasn't so worried about how his body looks. But unfortunately, humans come in all shapes and sizes, and even more unfortunately, in today's society, we have deemed only one size appropriate and acceptable.

So how do we achieve this one socially acceptable size, aka, how do we get to the weight of all those celebrities and models in our media? Well not through the same method they use, that's for sure. The people whose weight we idolize have other methods available to them that only money and fame can really achieve *coughliposuctioncough*. So what's our solution? The doctor's answer: diet and exercise. Well I am all for exercise. Not necessarily sweating off all 2/3rds of your body's water every day at the gym, but just generally staying active. Once a day, do one activity that involves movement. Go for a bike ride, work in the garden, take a walk through the park with a friend. I personally enjoy cleaning the house to upbeat music. It kills two birds with one stone! (Ew I hate that saying, why do I still use it?)

As for dieting, I am not a fan. I have many great loves in this world, and food just happens to be one of them. One of my many "I have always wanted to be a"s include a culinary critic. There are so many wonderful foods on this planet, from hundreds of diverse locations and cultures. And life is too short to stick to a diet of raw vegetables and soy, when instead you could truly enjoy every single meal you have. And I hate sayings like "other animals only eat to survive, and eat only the amount they have to to last each day." Humans are different from other animals in a hundred ways, including our eating habits, so don't give me that crap.

In my opinion, the true advice for people who want to enjoy food but still be healthy, is "everything in moderation." I agree that overindulging can be bad. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't. But I don't think cold turkey diets are good either. I have tried completely cutting out foods or soda before, and it never works. Just recently I decided again to cut sweets out completely, despite my evolutionary track. For over a week I avoided all kinds of cookies, cakes, ice creams... anything overflowing with processed sugars. Instead, I started eating many more fruits and vegetables. Well, aside from being suddenly much more miserable from counting calories and avoiding everything I loved, I also noticed myself wolfing down every kind of fruit I could get my hands on. I would eat an apple, then some cantaloupe, then a bowl of grapes, then an orange... all in the span of a few tv shows or just one movie. My normally moderate fruit intake suddenly skyrocketed. While trying to *avoid* being like a primate, I instead embraced my inner monkey, enjoying all those natural sugars that fruit offers to compensate for my sudden drop in processed sugar. I tried to be healthier, but I ended up consuming even more sugar than cookies and cake give. So needless to say, I stopped that diet fairly quickly.

So why am I worried about dieting in the first place? Well, if you must know.... I'M SO FAT! *weeps hysterically* No no, just kidding. I'm not one of those annoying skinny people who goes up to someone who weighs more than them and calls themselves fat. Nor am I the type who complains to someone older than them how old they are. No, I'm not fat. But it can't be ignored or denied that I have gained about 10 pounds since last year. This is mostly due to the fact that I've spent a whole semester basically on my tush. My burning/consuming ratio has been greatly skewed from my norm in the last 6 months. My off and on depression over the past 2 years could also be a factor, as well as stress levels. Or as my mother suggests, I may just be at that age where my body packed on a few more pounds to fully prepare to bear children.

Whatever the reason, the weight has begun to show. I have a stomach pudge, as well as thickening thighs, neck, and jowls. If you ask me how much I weigh though, most laugh at me, since the number is still way below the average of an average height person. But I'm not of an average height. As the late Shelley Winters so wonderfully put it, "I'm not overweight. I'm just nine inches too short." I'm pretty sure she meant that as a joke, but in my case, it's completely true. Being so short, any pound I gain usually shows somewhere. And while I'm usually the first person that stands up against the stupidity of weight norms and the expectation to look perfect in our society, I still have my insecurities about my own body. I admit I get wrapped right up in that stereotype, that if I become a few pounds overweight, I will be looked at badly by friends, family, guys, and just society in general.

So while I'm trying to lose weight based mostly on vanity reasons alone, I am going to do what most people who are ashamed of their weight do to motivate themselves, by also saying "I just want to be healthier."

So here I am, eating raw baby carrots as I type this, instead of chowing down on a delicious piece of chocolate cake. But not by choice. In a perfect world where weight and stereotypes didn't exist, I'd choose the chocolate cake any day. Man... now I want some cake....

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