Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chattanooga Epiphany

Having just visited Chattanooga again yesterday, I was thinking I wanted to share my memories of an earlier trip. Early in September, my family trekked to Chattanooga to enjoy the awesome aquarium there.
It was extremely hot and sticky that day so the kids spent hours playing in the water pools out front. That meant that Craig and I were supervising and sitting in the shade for a long time. That meant we did a lot of people watching.

Ordinarily, an aquarium worker told me they get 400 people a day. That Labor Day weekend they were expecting 4000 visitors. It was packed. People were passing us by in wave upon wave.

For the first time in my life, I took my people watching to a very personal level. I saw thousands of heavy, overweight and obese people go by. I mean that I really saw them. What I saw was a wave of humanity that was clearly killing itself with food and lack of exercise. Without exaggeration, I could count on one hand how many fit, athletic, healthy people I saw.

Obesity Rates are Highest in the South

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that the Southern United States has some of the highest levels of obesity.Mississippi has had the highest obesity rate every year since 2004. Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Louisiana have also clustered near the top of the list.

Colorado was the least obese, with about 19 percent classified as obese. Colorado is a state with a reputation for outdoor exercise and many residents maintain a more active lifestyle.

The South is known for a traditional Southern diet that is high in fat and fried foods. This type of diet along with a sedentary lifestyle is likely the reason for their high obesity rates.

The epiphany? I closely identified with the crowd and felt like one of them. My clothes were uncomfortably tight, my face was flushed and I felt just plain fat. Granted, I am not obese. Not the point. What I intensely identified with was the fact that I was also making life choices that had the potential to kill me.

The thought that I could not shake was "I am making choices that can kill me. We are all killing ourselves." I'm not sure how to communicate how deeply I understood this truth, but hopefully the word "epiphany" gives you some idea. As Oprah says, I had an "aha" moment.

Prior to September 1st, I was consistently eating nutritionally empty foods. I was surrounded by sugar and I wasn't examining my choices. My internal dialogue was full of justification, rationalization and flat out lies.

Since September 1st, I've been listening to my rationalizations closely and combating them with what I know to be true. Here's the lie I tell myself - "Awww, I can afford to have this one chocolate bar because I didn't eat too much earlier." Truth "I don't need it. Making choices like this is life-threatening."

Losing weight since September has been an awesome accomplishment, but what is making me feel even better is increased integrity. I know what is required to live a healthy life and now I am doing what is necessary. What's so great about an epiphany is that you can't unring a bell. Now that I see how society (me included) makes poor choices, I can no longer make those choices. It has all become so clear.

3 comments:

Maria said...

I have yet to figure out how to pass up that daily piece of chocolate, but I have downsized from the full Snickers bar out of the machine, to dark chocolate squares.

Eija said...

I watch a new reality show Ruby on TV - I guess just to remind myself where these unhealthy choices can lead. And also because the lady is so likable and beautiful - from neck up. : ). A bit childlike - makes me want to take care of her, jump into TV and give her a hug. I really want her to succeed - I feel like I could call her personally if she fell off track. She once weighed over 700 pounds, now 350 or something... I think her roommates / friends might be her inablers. Why order pizza at a restaurant or bring junk food to the house if someone with a real problem tries to loose weight there. Support it the key word here. Nobody overweight needs a husband who buys junk food and sweets in bulk from costco. Last comment from my own life. I usually hate those biggest loser programs, never watch them, yak, feel really disgusted by them, but why? I don't know. I also hate reality TV, but why is this Ruby so appealing?

Catherine said...

I understand the lure of chocolate, Maria.

Now I want to find that show you're talking about Eija, I've never seen it. Sounds like you have to take Ander's Costco card away (I get it, it's not about the Costco card)