The OutOfBounds Country Diet
Why Are So Many Country People Getting Fat
It seems to me that one of the facets of being a Yuppie is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This usually means an urban or suburban home and all that goes with it. Yoga, multiple diet fads, the local gym, and health food stores are all embraced in a religious sort of manner to be fit. Do everything one can do to look as good as, or better than, your Yuppie friends, relatives, and associates.
For the rest of the populace, obesity seems to reign unchecked for a high percentage of people. In particular, my research shows that rates among the rural populations of America are out of control. I guess there is no incentive to watch your weight if you are not trying to impress others who are trying to do the same. If all your friends and relatives are fat, who cares? This may seem like harsh dialect, but I am speaking to myself as well.
I know for a fact that trying to lose weight is very hard. And it is even more difficult to maintain that weight loss. You really need to change your lifestyle and stick with it or the situation just gets worse as time goes on.
Transferring from city life to country living is a shock, at least for me. Especially when you do so as part of a retirement scenario. Suddenly you are no longer going to work anymore, and one thing to do to fill your days is sitting around thinking about your next meal.
Eggs and Bacon or Pancakes will jump-start the fat demons in the morning. A big ham sandwich or burger at midday will accelerate the weight train. Roast beef and Potato dinners jettison the whole load of cargo over the cliff. Forget the vegetables and salad. Calories, Sugars, and Carbs are coursing through the body and all kinds of health issues start popping up.
And it’s not just country folk. City dwellers are joining the “Humpty-Dumpty” lifestyle. This issue seems most prevalent in the South. Being from New Orleans, many of my favorite dishes are loaded with calories, fat, processed meats, and carbohydrates. A barbecue meal can easily show your scale who is boss. Fried food is something else.
Country Corn “Pones”
I would think that being a farmer or rancher would have its benefits. Getting up early, feeding the chickens, milking the cows, chopping and bringing in the firewood would certainly burn the calories. But eating those calories back does not help.
If you have a tractor or log-splitter that does all the work, or a ranch hand does all the heavy lifting, you lose! Electronic and mechanical devices means that your hands and fingers get most of the exercise.
I have found out that as you get older, blood tests become less friendly. Unless you wake up to the fact that you are going to have to really start paying attention to your diet, you die. Maybe not right away, but little by little. Diabetes, heart attacks, deteriorating bones, and lung malfunctions are waiting to draw you towards the grave.
Living in the Country requires that you find things to do that replace popular pastimes available with city life. If one of those things is constantly sitting around and eating meals or snacking on junk food, you are in big trouble.
But You Already Know All This
I am not telling myself or you anything new. I am just not pulling any punches as to the realities of life. Sort of looks hopeless for most people, and promises to get worse as time goes on.
Cookies, cakes, ice cream, pies, fast food, pizzas, you name it. They taste so good, yet do so much damage. If regular trips to the market are few and far between, you stock up on the stuff. And it sits there in your house and beckons you to partake.
In the city, I ballooned up to 290 lbs. Living in the Country as a retiree threatened to push me past 300.
My wake up call came when I had a doctor request an a1c blood test that monitored the long-term effects of my blood sugar. It was my first test of this type. The results showed that, to my horror, I was on the verge of becoming diabetic. I would have been the first person in my family to have diabetes.
Since I did not have the bulging stomach that most overweight men have, I had been tricking myself into thinking I could get away with my eating habits. Photographs of me, especially when sitting down, don’t lie. It was thick body and spread out “plopsville” all over. Enough already!
I looked at the doctor and told him I would take care of it myself. I didn’t want drugs to solve the problem.
Country Cooking Corrections
I threw out the processed cereal and oatmeal and exchanged that for blueberries and yogurt with mixed nuts for the morning meal. Not a coffee drinker, I have either a glass of Ovaltine with milk or some Juice.
Cutting down to mostly 2 meals a day, dinner usually consists of barbecued chicken marinated or ground sirloin cooked on a griddle with a vegetable or salad added to complete the dish. Sliced tomatoes are a favorite. My wife adds cottage cheese to her meal.
We do like red meat, but I try to buy it across the state line in Alabama where I can get the grass-fed variety. Local farmers sell it in bulk, but some allow you to split a side of beef with others customers. And it tastes so much better than the tough, hormone-laden stuff in the grocery store. Nutrition wise, the benefits are enormous.
Most of our meals are prepared at home. That way we know what we are eating. Eating out means Chinese Food, Mexican, and Vietnamese Pho-Ga. Sort of yuppie-like I guess, but we still have city slicker genes.
We get fresh vegetables from local farmers and our friends give us beans, watermelon, chilies, and tomatoes from their fields. Tiny red potatoes go into our shrimp boil.
Processed foods, especially those with fructose corn syrup, are avoided. All those additives and chemicals on the ingredients list are mind-boggling. Health sapping soft drinks have been replaced by grape juice (diluted), green tea, lemon flavored water, and an occasional beer.
I am not ashamed to say that I drink a glass of prune juice (watered down) every other day. It’s keeps things moving inside. Constipation was a real problem for me after retirement, but the juice actually works. There must be more to it than just fiber content.
The weekend is where we have things like bacon, eggs, and grits or Eggs Benedict for breakfast and a barbecued steak and a vegetable for dinner. We want to try to stay fit at a reasonable weight. Not live a Spartan life.
These are some of my favorite deserts that I can’t have in the house:
- Bread Pudding
- Vanilla Ice Cream
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Apple and Cherry Pie
- Rum Cake
- Blueberry Muffins
If they are in the house, they call out my name unmercifully. I have very little will power when it comes to decadent edibles! I usually reserve indulgences for eating out once a week.
So What Does All This Jabbering Mean
After several months of diet corrections, my a1c blood test showed a number that physicians and health experts consider to exhibit a perfect number.
Having lost about 35 lbs, it is noticeable to family members who haven’t seen me for a while. I don’t exercise like I should, but I work around the house by cutting 2 acres of grass (in stages) with a walk behind power mower. The renovations on my country house continue, which can be labor-intensive when I have to do heavy lifting or plastering drywall.
I still have problems with my legs with stiffness and bending and such. However, there is no pain like you have with muscle cramps, arthritis, sore backs, and related problems.
Now being 72 years old, 6’4″ tall, and weighing around 250, I would like to lose more weight and be more fit. I don’t like the sagging skin and lower belly fat, but I will just have to deal with it.
On the flip side, my wife had a heart attack earlier this year. However, a recent ultrasound test presented excellent results for her current status. She had also lost about 35 lbs and looks like a new person.
Am I bragging. No! Just running a little scared. Our new life style in the country has allowed the relief from stress caused by working in the big city, endless traffic jams, and clusters of unfriendly people. But it also has presented new challenges.
We are not as active as we should be, but we do eat better because we want to. What ever you do in life, you have to stop blaming circumstances or others for your problems. A fat person is fat because they don’t care. I hear all the excuses but the simple truth is you have to eat fewer calories and improve the quality of the food you eat. You will be far more healthy than before you did make the lifestyle changes. Adding a little fasting won’t hurt either.
Is it hard? Yes! But life is hard. You either do it or you don’t.
Am I being unrealistic? No I am not. If I can do it, than so can you. You have heard that before. But putting the saying into practice is like “the present day you are in being the first day of the rest of your life”.
You have to start somewhere. Is it today or the tomorrow that never comes. You be the judge!