Monday, May 23, 2011

A Culture of Calories

A few days ago I wrote about "The Taste of Skinny" and shared a bit of my history with the whole weight loss and gain thing. Since writing that post, I've worried about it somewhat.  I wanted to be as honest as possible about it because I want others struggling in those areas to see that change can happen and explain how I did it, should that help but... to be honest again... I've had many a close friend and mere acquaintance dislike the fact that I care about this.  I've been viewed as shallow, extreme, fanatical, ridiculous...the works.  So, when I decide to do something like count my calories and keep up with my daily intake, mum is usually the word.  To share this would be met with a roll of the eyes, the shaking of heads and a snide comment or two.  In my non-running circles of friends and acquaintances, I try not to bring up my running, gym classes, upcoming races or anything like that unless asked.  The exception, of course, is this blog which I try to turn into a resource for those who are interested.  

There exists the misconception that I (along with many others like myself) can eat whatever I want because I run.  That is only true when running 50-60 miles a week.  And even then I try not to get carried away.  The only reason I remain at a reasonable weight for my height is because I am watching it.  The moment ANYONE lets their guard down, the weight creeps on until suddenly jeans are tight and we wonder how in the world that happened.  That goes for everyone!  Athletes and non-athletes alike!  Few are exempt.

And our society, our culture unfortunately cultivates this. First of all, let's consider lifestyle.  We drive everywhere (sitting).  We work for 8-10 or more hours a day, and I'd bet that MOST of you have desk jobs (more sitting).  We drive home.  We are tired by this point so we watch some TV before bed (and even more sitting).  And that, my friends, is a day in the life of your average American.  And what really bothers me is people will watch their health and fitness fly out the door in the name of dedication to the job! 

Let's also consider our culture of consumers.  We like convenience.  And can you really blame us?  We are busy working our 8-5 jobs every day and driving all over the place for different variations of sitting activities.  So we need fast food.  We also demand for things to be certain colors and to have certain textures.  Fruits should be brightly colored, whether they are naturally that way or not.  We want foods to have the appropriate texture and last forever, so companies pump these products full of man-made fats and preservatives to meet these demands. 

On a more positive (and possibly naive) note, I do believe our demands are changing.  We no longer want trans fats, even if they make our food flaky and soft.  We don't want our fruits sprayed with all sorts of things that might harm us.  We don't want preservatives for the sake of pleasant looking foods.  Well...we don't want it as much as we used to.  So food manufacturers are putting more things on labels and I've even seen certain things (such as partially hydrogenated oils) disappear from the ingredients of certain products I know used to contain them.  I still have to spend a lot of time in the grocery store reading labels and double checking everything I buy, but to me this is worth it.  Fun, even, at times. 

Okay, so the soapbox portion of this little project is over and I really am going to get into the details of what it is I am doing to watch and manage calorie intake and how I think it can benefit you, should you want to give it a try.  Stay tuned!


  1. Jane-I so enjoy reading your blog, and I am glad to see you writing more lately. I totally understand where you are coming from! Especially about talking about your fitness with those who don't care about their own. I find it frustrating to go out to eat with some friends because they overanalyze every choice I make-from drinking water to choosing a low calorie meal. I wish running and working out was the cure all, but there are lots of overweight people at the gym and running down the street everyday, so obviously, it takes more than that!

  2. You are right - it takes a lot more. It has to become a lifestyle, but I'd like to present it in such a way that people realize it is doable, worth it and GREAT!

  3. I admire your discipline to count the calories so well. I don't count them and don't stress about it too much. I love to eat now! But as you know, I have an eating disorder in my past. So I still have trouble liking myself and the way that I look. Even though my body can carry babies and run just fine, I still want it to look a certain way, you know? But alot of that is society's pushing the "perfect" figure on us all. I have to like me even with the extra pooches, at least for now.