Ever since I stopped growing, I've had extra weight. In high school it wasn't that big of a deal. In college it was a minor annoyance, and everybody says that you're "supposed to gain weight" in college, due to the party culture. After college, I started to make my own money, and spend it on things I wanted, including foods I wanted. Invariably, these were terrible culinary choices. McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Chipotle were regular stops for me, and when I went to the grocery store I would buy terrible things: hot pockets, hot dogs, microwave burritos, american cheese, white bread, peanut butter, jelly, 2% milk, soda, junkfood, and beer.
I lived this way for over ten years, and now I'm the heaviest, fattest, and most out of shape I have ever been in my life. It's easy to continue, facing the choices that have to be made to turn things around. It's easy to go with the flow. But I recently realized that the path of least resistance could easily mean terrible things for me, and not very far down the road. Heart disease. Cancer. Death. I'm 32, and these are very real possibilities for an unhealthy person.
I was getting a drink with my friend Jon recently, and he was telling me about the changes he made to his lifestyle in 2010. He was just as heavy as I am, or possibly heavier, and now he looks fantastic. He lost over fifty pounds over the second half of 2010. He talked about how unhealthy food gives your brain a short seratonin rush that passes quickly, and leaves you wanting more of what you just ate, regardless of whether you're hungry.
Elsewhere and historically, fat has been viewed as a sign of luxury and abundance. Only the wealthy could afford so much food that they ate more than they needed. Their wealth allowed them to eat for pleasure, not sustenance. As with so many things, American industry has turned the concept on its head.
The cheapest, most accessible calories available in Anmerica are in fast food. The easiest and most apparent way to fill your stomach in America is to load up on extra value meals, and in so doing, pump your body full of endorphines that give you a short-lived high that your body learns to associate with eating unhealthy(but admittedly delicious) food. The result of this is that poor Americans are fat.
This means that people with the means to eat healthy in America are failing to realize an enormous bit of potential when they don't. While unhealthy food is ever-present and marketed in-your-face, healthy food is still readily available to anyone who wants it. It certainly gets a bad rap though. My friend Jon made an excellent point though, when he said that there are extremely profitable systems set up in this and every country that operate on the assumption that people will just do what's easier in the short term, and those who see through that and act accordingly place themselves at an enormous advantage.
I decided then and there that I was changing my life. That was Monday, February 21st. The next day, I walked into the cafeteria at work for lunch, and instead of going straight for the deli or the fried/grilled counters, I went straight to the "home-cooked" counter which always features two ever-changing selections. One is the "comfort zone," and the other is the "right choice." I'll leave the distinction to you, but suffice to say, I went for the right choice, and on a whim, I decided to treat myself on top of this with some roasted potatoes.
My custom when eating is to eat all the least pleasant things on my plate first. So I ate all the squash and peppers and chicken(though I love chicken, but I needed an in-mouth accompaniment with the vegetables) with it, and last on my plate was a pile of greasy roasted potatoes. I took a bite of one, and almost immediately after swallowing it my stomach roiled with indigestion. I realized immediately that what Jon has told me was correct. I threw the rest of the potatoes away, and I've been eating healthy ever since.
That was eight days ago. I've been walking about a mile per day in my commute, and trying to run on the treadmill upstairs at least once a day, but i haven't been as good about that. Even so, my most recent weigh-in has me at 8.7 pounds lower than when I started. I feel better than I ever have, I'm sleeping better, and I have more energy.
The next couple of months should be very exciting for me.