Concern leads to awareness
The holiday season is upon us.
It’s just about time to bring out all the Christmas decorations. The calendar is filling up fast, and so are our plates. The memories of Christmases past are washing over us once again.
Like the Christmas night I spent in the emergency room. And the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day that I spent in the hospital.
But then, that was just one year ago. It’s still easy to remember. Painfully easy at times.
It’s been kind of a down year. My weight is down. My blood pressure is down. My A1C is down. And all that has me feeling very up about the year ahead.
It has been a challenge, though. At some point, all those ups and downs began to level out. I found myself neither progressing nor regressing. I was just stuck in the middle.
Along the way, in order to break the malaise, I had to adopt a new motto: I am aware, and I am concerned.
I became aware this year of how deeply ingrained food is in my life.
I mean, there is a degree to which we have to eat, right? But is food the only reasonable excuse we have to gather with our friends? Is it impossible to hold a conversation without at least a coffee and a scone?
I became aware that food is not only a lure to social gatherings; it is an escape from them, too. When I find myself feeling alone in a room full of people with no clue how to break the ice, you’ll find me in the corner by the food table, stuffing my face with cheesy poofs, so I don’t have to try to speak with anyone.
Working from home, I became aware of the number of times I mindlessly stopped at the fridge or the pantry when the work slowed down. A handful of nuts here, a peanut butter sandwich there. Nothing major. But something clicked when I became mindful and started tracking those calories.
I became concerned. I became concerned about the quality of the food that I ate. I realized that convenience foods I picked up at drivethru windows often were more convenient than they were food. I got concerned when I realized fast-food burgers tasted so good only because I didn’t have to fix them.
I became concerned that I thought skipping a meal here and there was a good way to go. I thought I was eliminating those breakfast calories. But no, I was just eating them along with my lunch calories later in the day. And I became concerned that all those calories at one time were making me sluggish. I was food inebriated. That’s a thing, right? If not, it should be.
I became concerned that food inebriation was zapping all the motivation I had for exercise. And exercise was at least as important as food in determining my overall health.
That’s when I discovered a marvelously simple and dastardly complex formula: awareness plus concern equals change.
I became a better parent to my inner child and stopped indulging in every fast-food whimsy and justifying a petulant resistance to exercise. I also learned to show myself a little grace when I mess up and celebrate the small victories, like a 30-minute walk instead of potato chips and TV on the couch.
I committed myself to the notion that a hamburger off the grill was better than one out of a bag. And that a turkey burger was even better than that.
I also committed to getting out of the house to work again, escaping the convenience and comfort foods of home.
I know I am not perfect. I have a long way to go to just be good. But this holiday season, I am thankful that I am not where I was a year ago, and I am joyful that I am not where I could have been today. And because I am aware and concerned, I know that even more change is on the horizon.
Scott “Scooter” Anderson is a regular contributor to 318 Forum magazine. This is part of a series of articles about his recovery from a health scare. Read his previous installments in the Health and Family section at 318forum.com.