Dan Nielsen: Prune with peas and debris |  Business

Dan Nielsen: Prune with peas and debris | Business


Dan Nielsen

Being overweight has been a perennial American problem for decades. Many of us have fallen into the trap of moving too little and overeating.

The 8th Annual Record-Eagle TC Trimdown has started. The event is a team weight loss effort. It’s too late to join this year’s iteration of TC Trimdown.

But helping people lose weight is big business in America, and there are plenty of weight loss programs to choose from. So get a book, watch online, or invest in a guided weight loss business program. Or explore Munson Healthcare’s healthy weight options. A good place to start is shapeupnorth.com, an online resource for creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Assistance via the app, class or doctor can help keep any weight loss program on track. But some would argue that losing excess weight is essentially a personal struggle.

Everyone’s struggle with weight is a little different. We all face unique factors that contribute to our own personal fear of the scales.

This was reported to me decades ago on a clear morning in a multi-state city west of Michigan.

I had traveled 300 miles to spend a long weekend with my future wife. She was called in unexpectedly to work an extra weekend that started at 7 a.m. She didn’t appreciate the phone ringing early in the morning, especially since we had been out into town the night before and stayed out late. We’re talking about late bar closings, so she didn’t get much sleep until her supervisor called her at 5:30 am.

She rushed to do her job. Her roommate and I went for breakfast to celebrate the fact that neither of us had to work that day.

I have had a weight problem since childhood. It mostly wore off in my twenties and thirties when I spent long years maintaining a healthy weight without thinking about it. I was in the middle of that worry-free period that morning my girlfriend got called. Her roommate and I each ordered coffee and an omelet with whole wheat toast. We talked, mostly about our hard working friend.

We ate at different rates. As usual, I enthusiastically dug. She ate with much less enthusiasm. This was no surprise, since my girlfriend and I had discussed this roommate’s attitude towards food – because it was so different from ours.

My future wife and I had been raised in households that appreciated a clean plate and disapproved of unused food. My wife still talks about the time her younger brother refused to eat his peas and was ordered to sit at the table until he cleaned his plate.

It was the day my wife’s parents learned that their youngest son was even more stubborn than them. He sat at the table, alone, for four hours, then was sent straight to his room. The peas still lay on that plate like a dead fish on the beach – cold, wet, and spongy. He still shivers with disgust if they serve him peas. I’m sure no pea has passed her lips in 50 years.

After growing up in homes like this, my wife and I always face philosophical dilemmas if our stomachs are full but there’s something edible left on our plates. This state of mind is rooted in childhood and is difficult to change in adulthood. It becomes a battle of will to throw excess food in the trash, in its stead.

By the time I was 20, I was active enough that it didn’t matter if I ate a plate full of food two or three times a day. No matter how many calories I quickly consumed, they were burnt while hiking, biking, climbing, or other outdoor activities.

But back to the roommate. She was of a totally different state of mind.

She didn’t hesitate to share her lifelong struggle for Gain weight. She had always been exceptionally thin. More than one doctor had told her that she should gain a few pounds. My future wife told me that she loved her roommate deeply – they had met in college, moved two thousand miles from Michigan together, found a job at the same hospital, and found an apartment together. They were and are great friends.

Their opposing attitudes towards food were frustrating to my future wife, but were tolerated in the spirit of true friendship.

My girlfriend had shared with me her amusement at the roommate’s tendency to leave copious amounts of “debris” on her plate.

The term “debris” was that of the roommate. As soon as the hunger was even slightly satisfied, her mind turned whatever was left on her plate – whether it was prime rib, broccoli, German chocolate cake, or ice cream – into psychologically inedible debris. (name: the remains of anything broken down or destroyed, ruins, rubble).

So, the morning I shared breakfast with her at a chain of mid-range breakfast restaurants, I cleaned my plate. She was done in the same amount of time, but more than half of her omelet and most of her toast had been cut up and mashed in a miniature desert of debris, a war-torn quagmire of yellows and crumbs.

If I had had his attitude towards food, I would have been slimmer most of my life.

But I and many other Americans struggle daily to control our appetites and lose weight. This is why the weight loss industry is big business. Diets, gyms, exercise machines, and low-calorie foods all have a market for people striving to lose weight.

Unlike my brother-in-law, I eat my peas – all of them.

But I try to keep my distance from things that make you fat like bread, pie and potatoes. And if such things somehow land in front of me, I turn the psychological screws and I myself will see them as a heap of inedible debris.


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