Eating & Mindlessness

I’m a good cook, and I don’t care who knows it. Problem is, I’m not a good eater. Oh, it isn’t that I don’t eat what I cook (never trust a skinny chef, they say), and I certainly know how to eat. That’s the problem. If you read my posts tagged with “food” or “health” or “wellness” you’ll see how much of a struggle it is. You’ll also see how little real discipline and effort I’ve put into it. I mean, let’s be honest. Keeping a food journal seems to work for a while, but only for a while.

So it was months ago that I ran across a story in the New York Times (sorry if you’ve used up your free articles for the month… try next month) about mindful eating, not so much about dieting as about being more aware of what we eat and why, about putting food in proper perspective. Then, about a month ago I came across another story about binge eating among men and the “Fat Dad” NY Times blog bosts. My situation isn’t as dire, but there’s no denying that those extra pounds contribute to a range of undesirable outcomes, and I am about as far from being a mindful eater as you might care to imagine. And then I suppose there’s something to be said for the first step in any recovery program, recognizing that you have a problem.


Over the Lips….


Please don’t call Mr. Leibowitz and tell him I should have flunked algebra in eighth grade. This is my formula for the next fifteen fourteen weeks. Our wellness committee at work has launched its version of “Biggest Loser,” just in time for the post-holiday guilt fast in which many of us are now engaged. I was going to do this anyway, but if there might be an actual prize, then I might try harder. Which is the point, after all.

I have spoken many times on this blog about my fondness for food. Much more the gourmand (gourmoo?) than gourmet, I don’t shy away from much and have little in the way of will power. Portion control in a world of double this and triple that extra value meals is a constant battle. As inaccurate as they may be I have to rely on the nutrition facts panels and a daily running calorie count of everything I eat in my little black notebook (and you thought that was for something else!).

Now if you’ll pardon me I have to go find my hiking boots or, if we finally get some snow, my cross country skis and work on the output side of the equation.

Digging Out

No. Sorry. Still no snow. Not to tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing, but here it is early January in Maine and there’s no snow on the ground, at least not at this end of the state. It never fails. Every time I want to get the cross country skis out it doesn’t snow. I think it’s out of spite.

Anyway. Just because there’s no snow doesn’t mean there isn’t digging out that needs to be done. Digging out? Digging out from what? Why, the mountains of food left behind by the holidays, of course. Cookies, chocolate, other assorted candies, spiced nuts, crackers, cheese….. I swear it’s right out of the scene with the Ghost of Christmas Present in Scrooge’s sitting room.

Really it’s not all that bad, but as so many people do at this time of year I have resolved to eat more healthfully and sensibly. I won’t call it dieting but, hey, if that’s the effect it has, so be it. Besides, the wellness committee at work has started its own version of “Biggest Loser.” Naturally, I signed up.

Now if we could only get enough snow to make use of those skis.

Big Bald Peak

Having whetted our appetites with the pleasant walk up Bradbury Mountain the other day, our middle daughter and I were looking for another hiking experience on Father’s Day, something a little more challenging. We found it.

Pleasant Mountain isn’t a long drive from where we are, but it’s interesting to note the change in decorative motifs. In about an hour you go from coastal/nautical, to country, to alpine. Since Pleasant Mountain is home to the Shawnee Peak ski area and not much more than a stone’s throw from Conway, New Hampshire and the White Mountains it doesn’t take long for old buoys as wall decor to give way to skis crossed on the gable ends of a faux Swiss chalet.

The point of our trip wasn’t to study people’s choices in decor, but to explore the landscape. It’s easy to overlook places like Pleasant Mountain because they’re so close to home. Even though I had never really been there I thought, “Oh, it’s only Pleasant Mountain. How exciting could that be?” The answer is, pretty exciting.

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Take a Hike!

Among the things my wife and I used to enjoy way back when, in the years BC (as in Before Children), was an occasional hike. We were never serious hikers, but enjoyed being outdoors, the challenge of the climb (as modest as they were), and the reward of the views. Returning home tired and sore in a good way and relaxing over a dinner that had been cooking slowly all day long made these hikes something to remember.

The upside of my recent medical excursion is that I have no health-related reasons not to take a hike, and plenty of reasons to get more exercise. And with a free day pass to a Maine state park of my choosing from a recent Red Cross blood donation, I’ve set my sights on this coming Friday.

Lighten Up!

About a month ago I was on my way to work when I began to feel increasingly unwell. It was an abdominal sensation – epigastric, the doctors (including the apparently sixteen year old resident – not really) would later tell me. By the time I got to work I felt light-headed, clammy, and not at all well. I got into my office and sat down, thinking it would pass. Given my family history, and the fact that the symptoms continued to worsen, I decided it wouldn’t. I heard the fire chief’s voice out in the hallway, as luck would have it, and got his attention. We went in my office, and I told him I thought I had a problem. A few minutes later paramedics were in my office, I was hooked up to a heart monitor, and my symptoms were subsiding – nearly completely gone, actually.

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Riding the Crazy Train

Yeah, well, for those of you expecting a tribute to Ozzy Osbourne:  Sorry. This has more to do with the regularly scheduled departure of our family’s overbooked, out of control calendar express than any kind of heavy metal. That said, it’s about this time of year I feel like biting the head off something, so I guess there’s a little bit of a connection there.

Please forgive me for whining, and it’s not like there aren’t other times of year when things seem to spin a little out of control, and I am (or at least I try to be) mindful of how fortunate we are to be able to have so much going on and, yes, I know it’s largely self-inflicted, but, still, I’ve never liked feeling like I’m being pulled in sixty-eight different directions at once. Work, kids, school, work, kids, sports, work, kids… oh, and did I mention work and kids?

Oy! (sorry)

I really am grateful, but it’s at times like this that I have the hardest time maintaining some sense of balance, and am least able (it seems) to keep old (i.e. bad) habits from reasserting themselves. Every day, it seems, I have to be even more conscious, more mindful of my tendency to lapse into old, familiar, but ultimately unhealthy (both physically and otherwise) patterns of behavior.

Sometimes it helps to say it out loud (or see it in print). Beyond that, is there really any point to this post? Probably not.