August: Dog Days of Summer

Friday, August 2, 2013


First: Hello again! I seem to have lost steam on the blog posts. I think I hit a wall when it came time to get to the "meat" of my story. I promise, I will get back to that story. I need to approach it in an easier way, rather than trying to piece the exact events back together from a mountain of notes and medical records. It was too daunting a task, and I panicked and fled.

One thing that has kept me very busy these months, has been Irish dancing. I did start lessons along with Sophie, in January. Alex has also joined in the fun- we're the Irish dancing Von-Trapp family performers! I have found that dance class has become a kind of therapy for me. I look forward to our weekly class all week, and leave after 2-3 hours of grueling hard work, absolutely on top of the world. It's seriously addictive. Sophie and I participated in our first feis (pronounced "fesh"), in February. Sophie got a second place for her light jig, as did I. The two of us also did a mother-daughter two hand jig, and tied for 3rd. It was so very gratifying. How often in life do we, as adults, get a chance to work hard at something and perform, much less compete? I mean, unless these are things you actually DO for a living. So we've been practicing hard, I started in hard shoes rather quickly, and now know all of my beginner solo dances. Alex decided he wanted to start dancing as well- and he loves it. But wait- here's the bummer. I have been battling terrible shin splints. Staying up on our toes is killer on the calves. While I was compensating for painful shins in my right leg, a toe on my left foot starting hurting. Which turned into my whole left foot hurting. Alot. To the point where I was having trouble even walking on it. I could tell something was not right, so I went to see the lovely Dr. Pacheco (yes, I do have a bit of a crush on him) yesterday, who showed me on the x-ray exactly how and where my stress fractures are located. Divine. So now I'm wearing the medieval torture device known as "the boot" for 6 weeks, and I'm not allowed to do any dancing. I go back for another x-ray in September. The upside is that we are on a break from dance class anyway until September. But I'm not allowed to practice in that time. Sad clown face, big time. Even walking/ jogging on the treadmill is out of the question. I guess I can do the bike machine? And now comes the serious watch-what-I-eat time, so I don't just gain back the 20+ pounds I've worked so hard to lose since December.

With this seriously careful about food thinking in the forefront of my mind, I went grocery shopping today. I planned out dinner for us tonight: I'd do a stir-fry with some leeks I already had in the fridge and a yellow pepper, carrots, broccoli, bok-choy, ginger, garlic, lemon grass paste, tamari and lemon. I'd also fry up some firm tofu, and put it all over brown rice. Total experiment to see if the kids would even touch this health-fest of a dinner. I filled my shopping cart with lots of fresh veggies, fruit, turkey sausages, organic brown eggs, organic milk, about 8 different packages of frozen wild-caught different types of fish, flash frozen fruits and veggies, hummus, canola oil cooking spray, gluten free crackers, spinach sandwich wraps, among other necessities. Now don't get me wrong: I also had microwave-able spaghetti and meatballs for kids lunches, pasta, juice boxes, turkey lunch meat, a box of fruit loops, frozen waffles, frozen chicken pot pies, frozen white castle cheeseburgers which the kids love but I think smell like dog food, corn chips...
The one most noticeable thing absent from my cart today? Bread. My love. This will be tough to cut out, but I'm willing to give it a go.
While I was walking around, (ok, hobbling around in my boot) I became hyper-aware of other people shopping, and the contents of their carts. It's a really interesting study in humanity to observe people in grocery stores. Now I don't normally grocery shop in our local co-op, or whole foods, or sprout markets. Only occasionally will I splurge on a few items at those stores. They're just too damned expensive. So I do our normal grocery shopping at our local Smith's. The average people's store. Where most everyone has the same daily struggles: income, employment (or lack-there-of), balancing work and family time, weight issues, pain, depression, etc. Most people there today, were trying to balance costs of their purchases with coupons, or food stamps.
But here's what I found most disturbing: the uncanny abundance of severely obese people- people who ride on wheeled vehicles as walking has become too difficult. What I observed  with these people, most consistently, was the contents of their carts. Mostly all of them were filled with absolute crap: donuts, snack cakes, hot dogs, bread, beer... so much crap I had to stop looking. Sugar, processed foods, carbohydrates, fat, and more sugar. Almost no fruit or fresh vegetables or lean proteins, or even whole grains. Seriously horrifying. Sad, really. My thoughts were not as much judgemental, (who the hell am I to judge anyone), but perplexed. How is it that in a country where obesity and diabetes have reached epic proportions, is there seemingly so little education about the things we are filling our grocery carts with? Why are billions of dollars spent by the government getting health "reform" bills passed that government employees themselves don't want any part of, and no one is taking the time or making the effort to educate people about what to eat and not to eat? When did we become a country where billions of dollars are spent in the pursuit of "thin is beautiful" while those who are truly struggling with serious weight and health issues are not getting the support or education about the simplest of things: food. How many countless ailments are burdening our health care system due to the epidemic of obesity? Why are these people not making better choices? Again, don't get me wrong: I also struggle with my weight. Every day is a constant battle of choices and guilt. But I know what I SHOULD be eating and not eating. I know what I should be filling my shopping cart with. Why not others? Do they not know how make better choices? Do they simply not care? Is it less expensive to buy crap? (I refuse to believe this). Is it marketing?
I asked the gal at the check-out about it. Very diplomatically, she responded with, "I just try not to look. I've seen it all. Live and let live, to each their own I guess." Absolutely right.  Point well taken. Mind my own fucking business. But then she very quietly told me what she thought was the "real" problem. She told me that she sees so many people come into the store with thousands of dollars in welfare money- WIC checks, food stamps, etc. And they blow it all on crap. Serious crap.  She said she once saw a woman come through with a cart FILLED with candy. All paid for with government issued money. When she asked her if she was having some kind of party, the woman apparently responded with, "no- I'm sending it all to my mother in Mexico." Honestly, I didn't know what to say to that. Yes- who the hell am I to judge? But surely, we could be doing better than this!? There has to be better education about food and diet. There just has to be. But where to even begin?
BTW- the kids loved the dinner I made. Small triumphs.

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