DEALING WITH THE OUT OF BOUNDS COUNTRY DIET
Why Are So Many Country People Getting So 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 mindset that feeds into the desire to be fit. That means doing everything one can to look as good as, or better than, your Yuppie friends, relatives, and associates.
For the rest of the populace, obesity seems to reign supreme for a high percentage of the 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 statement to make, but I am speaking to myself as well.
I know for a fact that trying to lose weight is an extremely difficult proposition. 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 it was 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 you wind up doing in place of the daily grind is filling your days with thoughts about your next meal.
Eggs and Bacon or Pancakes will jump-start the fat creation 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, altogether.
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 into one’s system does not help the cause.
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 closer 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 beckoning you to partake of its evils.
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 the disease if I didn’t do something to stem the tide.
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 Cooked Breakfasts
I eat a breakfast comprised of cooked oatmeal covered with blueberries Monday, Wednesday, and Friday sweetned with some Sweet & Low and a couple tablespoons of butter. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I have a fortified grain cereal that I also cover with blueberries. Since I am not a coffee drinker, I have a soup cup filled with green tea, an excercise which really helps my digestive system process the foods I eat.
On Saturday and Sunday, I fix myself and my wife a regular breakfast consisting of fried or scrambled eggs, a few slices of bacon, and grits or hash brown patties. We also like Eggs Benedict and Corn Beef Hash. Apple juice is our beverage of choice because it keeps far longer than orange juice.These weekend meals are not diet friendly, but they give us a break from the weekday regimen.
Cutting down to mostly 2 full meals a day, dinner usually consists of broiled marinated chicken or ground chuck patties cooked on a griddle with a vegetable or salad added to complete the dish. Sliced tomatoes are a favorite. Other favorites are meatloaf, a London Broil roast treated like steak, Red Beans & Rice, and Fajitas.
Almost all of our meals are prepared at home. That way we know what we are eating. Dining out usually means a local Chinese Buffet, Mexican, and Vietnamese Pho-Ga. Sort of yuppie-like I guess, but we still have city slicker genes affecting our way of life.
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 for an occasional seafood dish.
Processed foods, especially those with fructose corn syrup and heavy doses of preservatives, are avoided. All those additives and chemicals on the ingredients list are mind-boggling. Health sapping soft drinks have been replaced by apple juice, green tea, lemon flavored water, and an occasional beer.
To show you what I have given up, some of my favorite deserts are listed that I can’t have in the house:
- Bread Pudding
- Vanilla Ice Cream
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Apple and Cherry Pie
- Rum Cake
- Blueberry Muffins
When I have them around, they call out my name unmercifully. I have very little will power when it comes to decadent delights! I usually reserve those type of indulgences for when we are eating out once a week. As for a nighttime snack, a couple of fruit bars are what I eat instead.
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 be a perfect number, 5.4.
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 or battery powered weed eater. The renovations on my country house also continue, so that is another labor-intensive endeavor when it entails heavy lifting or plastering drywall.
Although I am fairly healthy with no internal or blood pressure problems, I do have issues with my legs which are stiff when walking, bending over, and getting down on the floor. However, there are no pains in them like you have with muscle cramps, arthritis, sore backs, and nerve end malfunctions.
Now being 75 years old, 6’4″ tall, and weighing around 275, I would like to lose more weight and be more fit. I don’t like the sagging skin and lower belly fat that comes with such an effort, but I will just have to deal with it.
On the flip side, my wife has recovered nicely from a mild heart attack earlier this year. After receiving stints in 2 of her arteries, a recent ultrasound test indicated excellent results were on tap for her current state of being. She also lost about 25 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 us relief from the stress caused by working in the big city, endless traffic jams, and being around clusters of unfriendly people. Still, it has also presented new challenges.
We are not as active as we should be, but we do eat better because we want to. It seems that whatever 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 those lifestyle changes. Adding a little bit of fasting now and then 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 one that contains the phrase “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!
I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!