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We're still a team

Sunday, November 07, 2010

I was a little down the other day because it's tough living with a spouse who is trying to quit smoking. I quit myself about 25 years ago, so I know it's a struggle and it takes usually several attempts before success. The same has been true for me with weight loss. It takes a long time to acquire bad habits, although with tobacco I don't know.. there's not much debate about the chemical addiction of nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes. But I digress.

I have been in denial or sublime ignorance for so many years! To start, I was always really skinny as a child and through college. I was the pickiest eater there was. I was such an embarrassment to my mom when we'd go someplace to eat. I remember when we went for Thanksgiving Dinner to relatives house my mom would make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I wouldn't eat anything else. My mom and relatives are great cooks, I just had very limited tastes. Even through college this persisted. The things I liked then were limited to peanut butter, hamburgers, ice cream, cookies, candy, etc. Really bad I know, but added to my dislike of anything good for me, I was a rather nervous person and when I got stressed out at school or home (which was all the time) I literally couldn't eat and dropped more weight. My mom and sister have always been pretty heavy, so I was really the exception in my family.
So what happened? I keep asking myself this. It wasn't one thing, it was a lot of things. This is what I think now.

(#1) For one thing, because I could eat anything I wanted to growing up (I just didn't WANT to eat anything) I never learned anything about nutrition or portion size or any of that. I continued to just eat anything I wanted.

(#2) When I got married and finished school, I wasn't as stressed out as before, so continuing the same eating habits was a huge mistake. All those high calorie high fat foods started to hang around.

(#3) I married a man who loves to cook. In fact, he cooks for a living. Growing up the menu was pretty bland, but my husband introduced me to many new foods. Unfortunately, I developed a taste for most them. Things like cheesecake. I never had cheesecake until our honeymoon because I thought the name sounded like it would taste awful.

(#4) No portion control. My husband served up food and I ate it... ALL of it. He's a man and he's a foot taller than I am. (We also have two sons who were very active in sports.) I didn't really realize this as an issue until I went to visit my parents for a few days last summer and my mom served dinner. The servings were way smaller and I was plenty full. In fact, I had no idea what a proper portion size was. Holy cow, Batman! What an epiphany! How could someone who considers herself reasonably intelligent miss the obvious for so long?

OK. So here I am. Since the boys are on their own now, my husband and I are both trying to deal with our bad habits -- him with smoking; me with eating. It's tougher for him I think because he doesn't have support like I do. We have started going to the farmer's market and we're even dabbling with organic produce and meat. Yes, I actually like vegetables now. My husband is being much more sensitive about letting me fill my own plate, and I sometimes use a dessert plate instead of a dinner plate. There are definitely struggles and we're both just getting started. The other really good thing that has happened is that my husband and I are spending a lot more quality time together. We have fun going shopping together and finding recipes that taste great and are more healthy. My husband really is an excellent cook and he tweaks things to make them more healthy for us.

So, it's all good...

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