As I continue my journey toward my goal weight, it’s sometimes necessary to step back a few paces and acknowledge that I’m an imperfect human being. I can want, with all my heart, to be less chubby and more slender, yet rationalize—and make, then eat—a peanut-butter-and-jelly-on-white-bread sandwich for lunch. I can make note that my pants are feeling a little too tight when I put them on in the morning, yet make myself believe that a couple of slices of pizza for supper won’t really hurt. I can be frustrated and complain that I’m “stuck,” unable to get my weight to slip under that next milestone, then eat half a bar of Nestle’s Dark Chocolate when I meant to eat a single square as a small, delicious treat.
Yep, I’m human.
Because of that, I need to remind myself why I’m trying to lose this excess poundage in the first place. First and foremost, my health. Obesity hurts me in a myriad of ways, most of them subtle and nefarious. The excess adipose tissue in my body puts stress on my heart and lungs. It plays havoc with my pancreas, making it difficult for it to produce insulin and thus increasing the likelihood that I’ll develop diabetes—a truly frightening disease that damages everything from the circulatory system to vision. And carrying around excess fat, which is heavy, puts stress on my hip, knee, ankle and foot joints, making the damage my rheumatoid arthritis is doing to my joints even worse. It makes me stiffer, hurt more, and be less able to move and enjoy my life.
The other reason for losing this weight is that I, like most human beings, like to look nice. Now, I’m not saying that chubby people are ugly, because they aren’t. But I’ve found it difficult to find affordable clothing that looks nice on my chubby frame. It’s disheartening to look in my mirror after spending time making myself presentable to go out, only to see that I still look short, lumpy, thick and pudgy, the only skinny part of me my calves, which look like two sticks beneath a fat pear. Clothes don’t look flattering. While I realize that it’s unrealistic to expect I’ll ever look like a skeleton-thin fashion model or TV star, my culture and society perceives beauty in fit slenderness, not flabby tubbiness. I can’t help but be influenced by it. This is the world I live in. It’s my reality.
I’m human, but I want to be a fit, slender human.
Finally, losing that weight means I can move smoothly and with grace, the way my body was designed to. Already, with the first 50 excess pounds gone, I’m far more physically active than I was. It no longer hurts to lean down and tie my shoes. I can kneel and reach into low cupboards without being fearful that I’ll not be able to get up again. When I walk up the steep driveway to the mailbox, I’m not winded when I reach the top anymore. I have more stamina and more energy. I can walk without resting for several miles when my RA isn’t flaring in my legs. I can turn over in bed more easily, and if I’m not hurting from rheuma, I sleep better. Chairs don’t seem as narrow and spindly; I don’t worry that I might break a resin lawn chair by sitting in it. When I’m in the shower, it takes a little less time to wash myself—and when I look down, my belly doesn’t obliterate my feet.
These are all great reasons to stay on the path to slender health and physical fitness, even at the age of 53-going-on-54. And yet, I frequently lose my resolve and eat the kinds of foods I know won’t nourish me properly and that will only turn into more fat padding my naturally broad, Scandinavian hips.
I’m only human. Fallible. Often weak. But I’m also persistent. Because even though I stray into the forest now and then, I’m keeping my path to health and fitness in view so I can get right back on it.
Today’s lunch was delicious, a bit more calorific than it probably should have
been, but very healthy nonetheless. I’m sharing again:
Wren’s Avocado and Provolone Sandwich
2 ripe avocados, mashed
1 shake garlic salt
1 shake of Italian herbs
Provolone cheese, very thinly sliced
1 generous drizzle of lemon juice
2 slices wholegrain bread
½ tbsp. butter
Method: Spread the butter thinly on the bread slices and toast until crisp and golden. While the bread is toasting, mash the avocados, season with the garlic salt, and drizzle the mashed avocados with the lemon juice to preserve their pretty green color. When the bread is toasted, spread the mushed avocado on it (like peanut butter!) as thick or thin as you like, and top with enough cheese to cover. Put the slices under a hot broiler just long enough to melt the cheese, then sprinkle with Italian herbs. Eat and enjoy.
Why it’s a heathy, yet tasty sandwich: Provolone is less fatty than other cheeses, so it’s a bit less calorific without sacrificing flavor and texture. It melts quickly and has a light, creamy flavor.
The wholegrain bread provides carbohydrate energy, but because it includes all parts of the grain, it’s more nutritious than highly processed white bread. Because the fiber in it converts to sugar in the bloodstream more slowly, the pancreas can keep up with the sugar load and produces insulin in a more steady way. This avoids the sharp sugar/insulin spikes that can cause damage in the body and bring on diabetes.
And avocados! While they’re probably the most fattening of all the fruits (50 calories for 1/5 of a medium avocado, 35 of those from fat), they’re absolutely delicious and provide 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit.
My RA continues to bother me with mostly low-level pain much of the time. But I’m grateful that it’s not worse. I still have an occasional more painful flare, but these don’t last longer than 24 hours, generally. My energy levels are good, I sleep well with a little nudge from a single, 20 mg. tablet of amitriptyline (Elavil) each night before bed, and my RA drugs seem to be keeping the disease from progressing or becoming more aggressive. I see my rheumatologist next Saturday, and I expect that I’ll be adding plaquenil to my current arsenal of sulfasalazine and leflunomide. I hope that the addition will relieve the constant pain. Even though it’s not terrible pain, it does wear me down and leaches some of the joy out of my days. I remain hopeful.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’re all feeling well, strong, and are keeping your eyes open for the small gifts the world has to offer us each and every day. And, if you try my avocado and provolone sandwich, bon appétit!
Note: I use a toaster oven to toast bread, so spreading butter on it first works. This might not be such a great idea if you use a regular toaster, though… just sayin’.