I say DOWN WITH PROCESSED FOOD!!!
Not too long ago, after watching a slew of "Dark Social Commentary" and "Fight the System" and "Recommended for Chris" movies on Netflix, we decided to completely go off processed food. And while I'll readily admit I fall off the wagon at the slightest bump my intake of processed food has dropped significantly. When I say significantly I mean from 100% consumption previously to less than 10% over the past few weeks.
So what does this mean? I could go back and list off the Grist articles I've read on food, I could post my "Recently Watched" list from Netflix, but suffice it to say that based on my "research" in recent weeks I've finally found the impetus to get myself on a healthier diet. Nothing in my past has enabled me to do that. Since my late 20s my health and energy have been on a steady decline. While I still consider myself healthier than average, I'm not the unstoppable force I used to feel that I was. The past few years this has bothered me, yet I've been unable to curb my ravenous intake of fast food, soda and junk food.
I've only been able to maintain my weight under 200 pounds because I've forced myself to be active even as my motivation and energy has waned. I worked at UPS for a few years toward the end of my undergraduate sentence. And for a time I worked at an online textbook warehouse hauling armloads of books around for eight hours a day after my four hour stint at UPS. I'm sure I was consuming thousands of calories more than I do now. I was also expending calories at a frightening rate. I knew the minute I quit both of those jobs my weight would...well, "spike" seems so inadequate to describe a round condition. My energy levels dropped off significantly as well.
I've struggled to avoid gaining weight beyond 200 pounds and I've ventured there only a couple of times and briefly then. But nothing- no fitness goals, no recreational goals, no desire to live longer, be healthier or have more energy -has helped me to kick the habit. What it took for me was understanding the modern "food chain" and being mad enough to chew nails (my own) that helped me find the motivation and the resolve to change my horrid eating habits.
Actually, I think the motivation came from realizing what effect all of the food industry monkey business will have on my children, and I decided for their sake we had to stop eating the Corporate Approved Diet.
Remember I stopped wearing the cycling costume and started wearing real clothes? Remember I stopped showering at work and have been showering before my commute in the mornings? Well, I used to weigh myself daily in the locker room. I stopped doing that when I started getting ready at home. I'm not sure why, maybe it was inconvenient to tap on the digital scale to get it to come on. I'm not sure.
After my recent cyclo-commuting hiatus while I was sick I stepped on the scale at home. I was 198. Groan. I'd been sick. I hadn’t been riding my bike. But 198?!
Yesterday morning I stepped on the scale after breakfast and with a full belly I was 191. A week of full on commuting every day and eating almost no processed food whatsoever had burned off the pounds amazingly fast. I had two sodas early in the week before reading Tom Philpott's article on Grist about what is really in diet (and otherwise) soda.
This morning with my gastrointestinal tract empty I weighed in at a mean 188. I don't remember how long its been since I've been less than 190 lbs. (I stood up to do a little dance after writing that)
No wait, I do. November-December 2005: I had a really bad bout of flu and lost 20 lbs. over a month. I'd lost my sense of taste with all the congestion and stopped eating compulsively until I got over the flu; then I put the weight right back on and then some. Immediately after recovering from the flu and just before I started to pack the pounds back on I went on a backpacking trip with my good friend Travis. It was a whirlwind trip to the Smokies in December and I ended up hiking 28 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain in postholes and over frozen snow in a 24 hour span. And that was including 9 hours of sleep...
I've not really increased my activity level this past week. We've only drastically changed our diet. I owe big kudos to my wife for having the mad June Cleaver skillz to make homemade bread, bagels, pasta and put together some amazing meals for us. She always makes good food, and has typically made healthy and more and more whole foods, but since this big decision came down she's stepped it up and has gone so far as to make crackers (Gromit) and has really made it all come together.
Our goal this summer is to start a garden. We're researching and planning. We're hippifying hourly.
And on to the other propaganda: you'll hear from moto-fascists that encouraging people to get out of their cars is akin to their own brand of fascism. How dare we challenge the freedom of tax paying American citizens to buy and drive Hummers?!
Well, let me tell you something, being a cyclo-commuter has given me freedom that I never knew possible. I'm free from traffic. I'm free from gas prices (and becoming more free). I'm free to choose my mode of transportation. I'm free to step outside of blind convention and walk (ride) a different path. I'm free to hang on to more of my hard earned money by not cramming it into the gas tank. By embracing the car-free (ALMOST) lifestyle I've started to learn to be satisfied with much, much less. Living simply allows you to take the truth path of least resistance, and not the perceived path which requires throwing money at all of your problems.
So yeah, I guess I would advocate taking away the "freedom" of being allowed to own a Hummer and I'd exchange it for true freedom and true liberation.
Get on that bike!