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I'm a Slow Learner

Updated on March 21, 2010

Pick Your Poison

Cat on caffeine
Cat on caffeine

Lessons Learned and Yet to Learn

I am a slow learner. For instance, it took me almost 40 years to understand the connection between drinking too much alcohol and throwing up. It took me until I was in my 40's to realize that sex does not lead to intimacy and that it is the other way around. Now...the longest lesson to can not over eat and remain inactive without repercussions. I am fat and out of shape and it's my fault.

One problem is that I want to eat enough to make me feel stuffed...not pleasantly satisfied but the kind of full that requires unzipping your pants and unhooking your bra. I do not have enough presence of mind to measure out a portion of Chinese take-out and douse the rest with vinegar so I can not go back to the container and eat my way through it with chopsticks. I can weld chopsticks like a pro and I'll tell you why.

When I lived in NYC in the 1980's and was moving back home to Buffalo, NY I wanted to drop a few pounds so my friends wouldn't think I had chunked up. I knew part of the problem was that I have always eaten too fast...kind of like I'm in a burning gingerbread house trying to eat my way out. I had learned to use chopsticks at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in China Town. A man who spoke no English showed my 8 year old daughter and me how to hold the sticks and get the food close enough to your mouth to actually get a few morsels in. I loved the idea of knowing how to use them! I felt so worldly when I would go out to a Chinese restaurant and be able to show off my new skill. It got to the point where I didn't even enjoy Chinese food at home unless I used chopsticks...but I was never very fast. So, consequently, I reasoned that since I enjoyed eating with chopsticks and it slowed down my intake I would logically be able to slow down my eating if I ate EVERYTHING with chopsticks. So that's what I did. I carried a set in my purse and whipped them out everywhere I went for months. I would eat a salad at the Automat on 6th Avenue alone at a table and not give a hoot who watched me stab at my lettuce with my mother-of-pearl encrusted black lacquer chopsticks. Actually, one of the things I loved about NYC was that no one really did stare or notice you at all. You had to do something really outrageous like wear an armor plated bra with holes to expose your nipples before anyone even turned around to look at all. No, it wasn't me in the armor plated bra. My chopstick diet worked like a charm but the logical extension of this was my skill improved to such a degree that my eating speed once again increased. Once I got home to Buffalo I relaxed and put a few pounds back on...I've been putting them on steadily ever since.

I eat too damned fast. It takes your brain 15 minutes to get the message that there is food in your stomach. That seems like a very bad strategy for long term survival of a species with opposable thumbs. I often think of what I would do differently if I had designed everything. For one thing, foods that taste the best would be the best for you. Everyone would have to make sure to get their daily minimum requirement of chocolate. Strive for five would take on a whole new meaning. "Have you had your five chocolate bars today? Remember, health is priority one!" As far as hunger goes, in my world once you had ingested enough nutrients you would be full and satisfied and your mouth would automatically seal up. There would be no impulse to overeat. Also, skin would not stretch except in certain instances like pregnancy. Imagine how easy it would be to turn down that extra donut if your skin only got tighter and it might break. We would not over eat because we would not wish to explode. We would also have a pain dial somewhere on our body where we could adjust pain levels...pain serves a purpose but when you are suffering all the time it defeats the original plan.

I am digressing. Instead of redesigning creation you might think I should work on redesigning myself. If I could simply slow down my eating I could certainly eat less. I remember years ago at Weight Watchers one of the tricks they taught us was to put down your fork while you chew and have a sip of water after each bite. I still remember this but when it comes down to it I shovel it in and end up stuffed. It's calories in and calories out that cause weight loss or gain. I am on the wrong end of that equation.

I figure I'm getting somewhere between 1,200 and 2,000 calories with my 23 points. The fiber figures into that somehow making the high end more nutritious and easier to eliminate. I know I'm not exercising enough although I walked quite a bit last Saturday when I went to Boyce Thompson Arboretum and I walked every day for half an hour at lunch. I need to up the activity level and slow down the eating pace.

Yesterday I went to the Renaissance Festival with my friend from work.  I had planned to have one frivolous food item.  I thought it might be REAL ice cream or fried dough or something so over the top that I would have food guilt to get me through the next few weeks.  I saw a woman walking around with what looked like a square ice cream hand dipped in chocolate encrusted with nuts on a stick.  AHHH that is IT I thought.  I walked up to her and asked her where she got her ice cream.  She corrected me and said it was a frozen chocolate covered cheese cake and pointed to a stand close by.  My friend opted for the cheese cake but it didn't really appeal to me.  I selected the frozen chocolate covered banana.  I ate the entire thing in utter disappointment.  First of looked delicious.  However, a frozen banana is somewhat tasteless and frozen chocolate is not as lovely as soft melted gooey chocolate.  So...why did I eat the whole thing?  I blame my childhood where I had it drummed into my head that there are starving people in China and it is a sin to waste food.  I'm not kidding.  I could not bring myself to throw out the bland high calorie crap on a stick.  If I don't lose weight this week I will blame China. 

In the meantime, I got back on track today.  I also went for another massage.  My pain level has been very high lately.  Sometimes I think there might be some horrible thing wrong with my bones or my legs or my hips instead of just weight.  I don't want to go to the doctor until I take off all the weight because I don't want anyone to suggest surgery until I know it is not only because I am so overweight.  Frankly, I don't trust doctors very much.  I haven't found a GP here in AZ yet.  I had a wonderful Chinese American woman doctor in Buffalo but she was the only doctor that I felt listened to me.  I know my body.  I've been living in it for 54 years.  I know where I'm supposed to have pain and where I'm not.  I know I'm supposed to get my yoga in to stretch out my hips and shoulders but I just have not been able to convince myself to do it yet.  Maybe I'm afraid that the yoga won't fix it this time and I'll really need medical intervention.  I guess that makes me a fool...

I will end this hub with a Sufi story I read a long time ago.  There is a character called Nasrudin who is what you might call a wise-fool that is the butt of many Sufi stories.  Nasrudin was on a train and the conductor came around looking for tickets.  Nasrudin started checking his outside coat pockets and then the pockets of his pants.   He began to get nervous and sweat as the conductor stood and waited.  "I know they're in here somewhere, " said Nasrudin, "I'll find them." And he continued to look in his suitcase and rummage through his lunch basket.  The conductor noticed that he hadn't checked his inside jacket pocket and he began to feel Nasrudin's pain.  "Sir, many of the passengers have a habit of putting their tickets in the inside pocket of their jacket.  I noticed you didn't look there.  Why not check that pocket now?" said the conductor.  Nasrudin replied, "Oh, I did think of that...but then, if they are not there, all hope is lost."

So you see...that's why I haven't tried the yoga yet.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I have made a solemn oath to myself to resume the yoga once I am down to 190 lbs.  I guess I'm also a little afraid of all the postures I won't be able to do at this weight.  It will happen...I am a slow learner. 


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    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 

      8 years ago from Australia

      I like your sufi story, and your humorous writing style. All the best on your goal.


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