In the ongoing soap opera known as Trying To Be Less Of A Fatass, I seem to encounter speed bumps on a semi-regular basis. One of the greatest obstacles is a slavery to habit. Sundays at the firehouse are a prime example; as opposed the rest of the work week where we eat at 11am and 5pm, Sundays are reserved for a brunch that would make a sumo wrestlers heart skip a beat. Bacon, biscuits & gravy, pancakes, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes are never strangers to the brunch table and I’ve been seduced by all of them. The scale confirms this less-than-ideal affair of the clogged arteries. And, as I try to make healthier choices, nothing sucks harder than eating turkey “bacon”, avoiding the potato pan and nuzzling up to a bowl of oatmeal.
As with all routines in our lives, habits dictate our patterns. Methheads on a bender will spend hours peeling back stolen electrical wire insulation to get at the precious copper that will fund their next hit; RoJo will dictate large portions of time to organizing his sock drawer so that all of the seams line up; The Heathens are devoted to waking up at 5am and making sure their parents are awake too, so that they can discuss their latest Transformer-inspired revelations. Creatures of habit, all. And one of my many habits is to consume food the way I did at age 18, when I had the metabolism of a hummingbird. Always the skinny kid, I ate without consequence until my mid-twenties, as did many of us.
Now would be the time in another setting where the writer would describe how his children inspired him to live better, how the radiating pains shooting down his left arm made him find religion or something like that. Well, those guys can suck it. I’m making the change towards healthier choices for one reason only: it sucks being a mid-thirties fat cliched caricature of yourself. You know it, I know it and since you’re not doing anything about it, I guess I’ll take responsibility for myself.
This came to a head at a local gas station/convenience store with a name I loathe (see my feelings here). I always pay at the pump, seeing no need to venture into the vipers den of M&M’s, 9682-ounce sodas and nasty looking hot dogs on rollers. But this time, I was forced into the situation: I needed to buy a days’ supply of cat food. Mortally embarrassing enough that you purchase cat food at a gas station, I’d be forced to enter a place where Monster Energy Cold Coffee drinks would beckon to me, those damn sirens on the rocks. I began to get a little clammy.
I headed in to the belly of the beast, confident I would not disappoint Ryan and all the other CrossFit fanatics by giving in to the deliciously sweet sights and smells of a highway convenience store. I grabbed the box of overpriced feline food (really? 4 bucks for a days supply? I swear those cats are so fu*#ing unappreciative of my efforts), and calmly strolled up to the counter. Goddddddd, I wanted to buy something, anything. The habit is strong and bred deep within me. I looked over some candy bars, kinds I don’t even like, with an instinct to impulsively purchase. Alcoholics don’t hang around bars, so what the hell was I doing here? Pork rinds were gazing at me longingly, and I found myself eyeballing the lottery tickets as though I might take up gambling today. What the hell is going on here?
Chaotically, I walked to the register and back into different aisles several times, just convinced that I needed something. The corners of my mouth started to water as I began to convince myself I really WAS hungry. After all, I hadn’t eaten in several hours, was working in the shop, c’mon, what’s wrong with a little pick-me-up? Damn, I’d make an ideal drug addict, I follow the script so well. My mouth began watering as a new concept entered my consciousness: beef jerky. My mouth is literally beginning to water at the corners, even as I write this, because beef jerky is so awesome. I found myself at the register, standing in a puddle of my own drool as I rolled the idea over in my mind. I had to excuse myself once again, to dash into the aisle that held my own version of manna. Aisle 3.
At this point, you expect me to tell you of my overwhelming mental strength, where the voice of Ryan is screaming in my head about “form” and not being fat and how I used this imagery to walk away from the sodium-laced death known as jerky. That would make a really cool finale to this story, and maybe it would inspire you in your own journey to better health.
That thought never even crossed my mind.
Finally, box of cat food in one hand and bag of teriyaki beef jerky goodness in the other, I left the store, the checkout clerk shaking her head at the weird dude who obsessively went from aisle to counter and back 23 times, leaving large puddles of drool in his wake.
Beef jerky has protein in it, right?
We’re all good, then.