Back Out There

As of today, I’ve gone for three small runs.

It’s about one exact year since the surgery on my right knee, done to repair torn cartilage after taking a wrong left turn.

In the last year, I’ve put on over 45 pounds, and subsequently lost about 30 of that through diet, but still find myself pudgy and soft around the edges – and not the man that Raymond met three years ago.  I have such a journey ahead of me to regain a shape and form that suits me, but, of course, it’s important for me to stop and reflect about the things I’m discovering and learning about myself along the way.

First, there’s the weird anxiety that floods my circulatory system every time I start to head out the door to run.  I sip on a mug of coffee, or chug it, and spend a great deal of time psyching myself up to put on my running gear.  I listen to EDM, at volume, and pace around in some sort of weird dancing swagger as I let the beats and rhythm build inside me.  What I’m doing, essentially, is trying to build up the courage to get out there.  What could I possibly be afraid of, though?

Injury, for one, is a thing – I’ve been there, done that, and it sucked a lot.  It sent me into a pretty steep depression last year at this time as I was prepping for surgery on my knee, and I don’t want to go back to that headspace again.  Ever.  I know, I know…we are a biological creature and aging means breaking down and facing injury on a daily basis.  Still.

Then, there’s the idea of me in running gear.  To be honest, I look foolish.  Lycra, day-glo attire, hell, even the sneakers themselves – all of these things look really weird on my plump and curvy body.  I’m no Usain Bolt.  I’m not lithe, or muscular, or lanky, or even attractively shapely in anything other than baggy jeans and loose tee shirts.  But, running in jeans would look even more stupid, so here I am.  Dressed like a fool.  I know this is super-duper basic of me to be even commenting on, let alone admitting to, but I hate, hate, *hate* wearing clothing that makes me stand out in some fashion.  This shit? This gear?  Yeah, no.  Thankfully, most of it’s a light grey color, which means I’ll blend into the fog and drear that is Oregon’s signature weather pattern.  And that day-glo shirt goes well under the grey hoodie, with only a few bits of it showing.

Beyond looking stupid and not wanting to rip a muscle, what else is this fear coming from?

Well, if I’m being perfectly honest, it’s all related to my past experience with weight and body and eating.  I’m still, and will forever be, a recovering anorexic/bulimic.  For over two years, I spent a great deal of energy and effort to expunge my body of everything and anything, exerting exquisite control over my daily caloric intake like it was my reason to even live.  Exerting that kind of control over my body, my physicality, has been my default go-to response whenever I’m feeling like the world I inhabit and everything around me has gone off the rails.  I know how far I am capable  of pushing myself in order to feel like I’m in control.  That, right there – the levels of mania, the willpower, the stubbornness, the monster within me that I’ve turned loose on myself a number of times – that’s the thing that arrests me whenever I lace up my sneakers.  I am afraid of the level of harm I am capable of doing to myself in order to feel like I’m in control of something.

Then, there is the feedback loop that one gets when they get into shape.  People do notice.  Interactions with others become different.  Every single time I’ve dropped a lot of weight, there’s the inevitable compliments that come in from various people I interact with.  Their praise and notice feeds into my ego, feeds into the desire to keep pushing myself further, and that, in and of itself, is highly addictive.  I love praise.  I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t, right?  The thing is – and especially with my history of eating disorders and body dysmorphia – every compliment I ever got when I was at my thinnest was made to a person who had put on the skin of confidence and power, when on the inside, he knew it was all one great lie.  I don’t know if that makes any sense, so let me try explaining it another way.

If you’d seen me at my thinnest – and you probably did because I kept posting photos of myself along the way as a means of stroking my own ego and getting validation for what I was doing – you’d see a guy who looked great and gave off a sexy and confident vibe that was quite attractive.  You’d have no idea, though, what kind of turmoil was going on underneath that outer self.  Under that skinnier, sexier exterior, was a man-boy who was broken.  If you had questioned me, even just a little, as to how I was doing – especially if you’d given me a gin and tonic first – it would have soon become quite apparent that my exterior was really just a facade and that things in my world were quite broken.  The first time I “got skinny” I wasn’t eating but maybe 500 calories a day, was failing in a few college classes, couldn’t pay my car payments or keep insurance on my car, and had a whole host of other issues going on up to and including an identity crisis that eventually led me out of the closet.  The next time I “got skinny” was about the time my marriage was failing and I was facing down the reality that I’d made a real cock-up of things related to my education, career, and finances.  Oh, and I was lonely as fuck.  The most recent time I again “got skinny,” I was living in the spare bedroom of an ex-boyfriend’s house, had no job and no prospects for one, had been called – to my face – fat and unattractive, had zero friends, and went day-to-day wondering just how I was going to eat enough food to curb the growl in my stomach yet not get yelled at by the ex-boyfriend for being a leech.

It doesn’t need to be like this.  It doesn’t need to feel this way.  I don’t need to be afraid of myself.  I know this.  I *know* this.  I’ve spent most of my life waging this inner battle with myself.  I’m tired of it.  I’m not in a place of desperation.  I’ve got a stable roof over my head, a job that pays quite well with pretty damn good benefits.  I have a magical and wonderful man who still enjoys curling up around me at night and holding me tight.  I have a lot of great things going for me and I feel like I’m in total control of my life.

So, really, I need to get over myself and just get out there.  I’m dressed in these horrible running clothes right now anyway.  This doesn’t need to be like every other time I’ve decided to go running.

 

Eleven

Since Thanksgiving, I’ve managed to hit the gym eleven times.  That’s eleven more times than I went all summer long (apart from the one-off from time to time) and eleven more than I was expecting.  While I realize that I still have a long way to go with regards to my fitness, I have been finding myself gaining back lost strength since the last time I was hitting the weights regularly.  I feel my legs and arms swelling, growing muscles yet again.  It feels good.

I’ve also noticed that my body is definitely aging.  I’ve got a creaking right shoulder, stiff neck, and other parts of me that aren’t functioning as they once did.  I am definitely noticing the effects of my sit-down/stress-laden job of bus driving.  I have been reading over and over again just how bad my job is on a person’s body, with repetitive motion injury, stress, constant high levels of cortisol and the like.  The gym, much as it always has been, is a proving ground for all of these things, and also an antidote to it, I hope.  I hope it’s not too late for me to regain what I’d given up the moment my right knee gave out just under a year ago.  I hope I can continue with this streak of going-and-doing the exercise that my body definitely needs.

Movement, as it always has been for me, is a method to sorting out my thoughts.  I still don’t fully understand the chemistry or biology of it all, but I know that once I start putting my body into motion, suddenly, I can feel my thoughts stretching out into palatable lines of comprehension, rather than remaining a lint-ball of cross-purposes within me.  I can take one idea and follow it to a logical and reasonable conclusion.  I can ask myself the questions and do the reasoning that fully thinking something through requires, all while walking a fifteen-minute-mile on the treadmill, or bench pressing a few sets.  I think it’s this dual purpose of exercise – not only to gain strength and stamina, but to also help process my thoughts with an added level of clarity – that keeps me going back.  Sure, I’d like to once again be the skinny pretty man that I have been from time to time, but that might need to just be a by-product of it all, rather than the sole purpose.

It’s nice to be back there, back at the gym, back staring at the weight racks and noticing the fellas around me with the massive chests and multi-faceted arms and legs.  It’s nice to feel my own personal power growing again, to allow myself the surge of endorphins that comes from a set well done.  I’ve already got my eye set on the conditions outside so that I might make a return to running.  I do need to purchase a couple of new pairs of sneakers – one for the gym, one for running outside – so hopefully I can find some good deals once the holidays are over.  I want to get myself some new gym clothes too.  It feels good to have something to focus on that I have complete control over, all while the political world that I find myself now inhabiting seems to be burning down around me.  The gym is a respite from all of that, and I’m realizing that fact more and more these days.

 

 

Summer Progress Report

As of this writing, I’m officially down twenty-four pounds since June 21st, 2016.

That’s almost half-way to 200, from the 250 I was at.  It’s been two months.  That’s twelve pounds a month.  If I can keep this up, I will be around my goal weight of 175 pounds, which is where I was when I met Ray, by the end of the year.

I’m really having a moment about this today, and really needed to get it out of me.

I still am not ready to share what I’ve been doing, mostly because I had a bit of a revelatory moment back in June about how I’ve been approaching health and weight loss.  For me, it seems, the more I announce things online, the more I share my gains and goals and plans with those who know me online, the more apt I am to falter and fall off the wagon.  This time around, though, instead of posting about it (though I’ve come *really* close at times), I’m just sharing photos of myself.  I think, in time, the weight loss will become more evident, and if asked about it, I might share my secret.  It’s really no secret – it’s just a better system of eating that works for me – but because I’ve imbued it with a little magic – a little bit of my inner pagan self who finds power in concoctions and potions and recipes – I can’t talk about it.  Doing so will dissipate the magic.  It’s a little like Fight Club in that the first rule is that you don’t talk about Fight Club.  So goes this new journey I’m on.

In any case, I feel a ton better.  I’m feeling way more alive, more energized, and more in tune with the animal-creature-being that I am.  I’m figuring out what cravings actually are, what hunger actually feels like, and how best to respond to these needs.  It’s really a re-learning of the things that have always been inside me – the biofeedback loops we are all born with – that have been muffled by years of eating incorrectly and responding to cravings in a way that is detrimental to the rest of my health.

I’m anxious to start exercise again, especially since I haven’t done much since I had surgery on my knee last February.  I really put myself in a hole after that, afraid of pushing myself, afraid of hurting myself more, and psychologically, it took a massive toll on me.  I found myself justifying the pizza, the beer, the constant naps and lethargy to just compensate for how awful I was feeling about being broken and not being the young and elastic man I once was.  Right now, I can feel those emotions sliding back, dissipating, leaving my body, and what’s replaced it is a new-found confidence.

I still have quite a few milestones to arrive at.  I still have things I’m not quite doing right, but overall, I have to say I’m really, really enjoying this little journey of mine.  Who knows.  I might actually be Fit by Forty.

18 Months

I woke up this morning with the anxiety-laden realization that, as of May 1, I am exactly eighteen months away from turning forty years old.

Sure, I’m anxious about this, which is a mix of social training and pressures from external forces, but in reality, I’m also anxious about it on the inside.  My body is not that of a twenty-year-old anymore, and hasn’t been for exactly that amount of time.  I have been rather abusive towards the flesh I’m in, bouncing up and down in weight and size repeatedly over those years.  I’ve flung myself from calm repose to panicked insanity more times than I can count, and through all of that, my body has taken on the scars – externally and internally.

This morning, as the weight of all of this pressed down on my flabby, fatty, man-boob chest, I decided to face it down with a walk.  I needed to clear the air, clear my mind, and just get out there and press the pavement for a bit.  Walking, as always, seems to have helped me clean out the cobwebs and set me up for some productive thoughts, increasing with each stride and milepost I passed.

I am going to set up a personal fitness challenge for each month.  For the month of May, to mark the start of my eighteen months of crunch time, I’ve set a goal to walk at least 100 miles.  Walk, run, skip, hike, or whatever movement with my feet underneath me – but a 100 miles by May 31.  I did some quick math, and that works out to twenty-five miles a week, and if today’s walk is any indication of the speed and time that will require, I can do a five-mile walk in just over an hour.  I now, as of today, have a loop that is measured out for me, and that I can do, and add in variables such as taking different side-streets, adding in a stop for coffee or the bathroom, or even run at parts.  What I need to do now, though, is commit to doing this five times a week.  My days off, Monday through Thursday, will allow for this to be a morning ritual.  What I do need to do, though, is pick a day during my work period – Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, to complete one more loop.

I can do this.  I can fight back the urge to just collapse at the end of a day and say goodbye to the world in it’s entirety.

Alongside this walking goal, I’m going to pay closer attention to what and how much I eat.  Right now, even though I’ve had spurts of “healthy clean eating,” basically, it all breaks down at least once or twice a week and I reach for the pizza, peanut butter, or beer/liquor.  While I could promise myself that I’m going to not do those things, the reality is I’m not going to give them up.  I enjoy them too much.  What I can do, though, is mitigate them and their caloric grandiosity by countering those richer days with leaner days.

What I don’t need to do, though, is make this whole experiment stressful.  The other night, while Ray and I were having a “reset conversation” about the state of things in our relationship, he called me out on my obsession with my weight and size.  It bugs him that do it.  It bugs him to hear me go on and on about how fat I am or how weak I’ve become.  The fact is, he loves me in all of my various states and shapes.  He is supportive of me and my efforts without castigating me when I slip and fall.  He’s the first person to offer a glass of wine after a long, awful day, and while I know it’s not the most healthy way to deal with that kind of stress, I will not deny the deliciousness that is a fine red wine.

I can do this.  I can find a balance.  I can make the next eighteen months count.  I can make them as enjoyable as I dare.  I can’t wait to see where this takes me.

On a Walk

Today was the first lovely spring day we’ve had in a very long time here in Portland, OR.  This winter busted lots of records with regards to rain and damp, and as you all know, I’m way too much of a princess to go out in the rain and get my move on.  That, coupled with the knee injury last month, has really, really set me back in terms of my fitness.  I was already on a downward slope from the place I was a few years ago, just before I met Ray, but as of today, I really have hit a point I am not proud of.  I’m as heavy as I was at my heaviest last year (circling around 240 pounds), and for me, that’s way, way, way too much.  My body feels just out of control, and even though I’ve been somewhat good about my diet, and somewhat good about exercise, clearly it’s not working the way it once did.

Today, after a nice chat with my pal Andy back in Denver, it sank in that I’ve arrived at my middle-age.  This means, in terms of weight and food and all the rest, that I will never have the same level of metabolism that I once did, even just a few years ago.  Decadence and indulgence now doesn’t mean just a few more reps at the gym, or even another mile of walking or movement.  Now, it means another tick up on the scale, needing a *lot* more effort to correct.

The other factor, though, that has come to light while I have been arriving at this little place in my life, is the comments that I get from those around me who have seen me change over the last two plus years.  Things like, “you look so much happier/healthier than you ever did before” are coming up in conversations across many of my friends, none of whom talk to each other.  I find this striking, considering that when I thought I was at my sexiest, I was also at my leanest and meanest I’d ever been.  What is the x-factor there that they’ve seen grow and develop even as my waist has expanded and my energy level is coasting at best?  What is that thing that they see when they look at me that I simply cannot see when I look in a mirror or catch my reflection in a passing storefront while I’m out walking?

I set off on a short jaunt this morning – about two and some miles – because it’s just so damn lovely outside and my vitamin D levels have been tanking for so long.  Out there, wandering through the neighborhood and taking in all of the glorious spring flowers and smells that come when the sun shines on land that’s been forever soaked by deep rains, I had a moment of epiphany.  Yes, another one.  YES, I know that these often come while I’m out moving around, and I know know know that they are the things I need to keep discovering as I meander along on this little path of mine.

Beneath this exterior flesh of mine, beneath the curves and stretch marks and dimples in places other than my face, there is a beast.  He’s hairy, he’s powerful, and he’s always been there.  For some damn reason, all this time, I’ve been really afraid to let him out.  I did see glimpses of him just before I met Ray, when I thought I was looking the best I’d ever looked in my life, but again, he’s slipped back into the shadows, back beneath the surface.  I wonder, perhaps, if he was revealing himself to me then as I was bracing to embark on a very, very solo journey, and preparing to have to take on the world all by myself.  Like some sort of protective shell, looking powerful and strong as an outward avatar of myself meant that I wasn’t going to take any shit from anyone, that if you approached me on the street, you might think twice about talking to me, or that you might see me as a person who was very self-involved, and therefore not needing your intervention, or your commentary.

The fact is, though, when I was at that point, I was at one of my lowest emotional levels in my life.  I had gone from living in a gorgeous house, with a man I had fallen in love with, and had this actual life of a big back yard, a full-size garden, a home to make my own, and was watching my dreams come true-to-life, to living in the back bedroom of a friend’s house who took pity on me, and wanted to help me find my feet again in this town of mine.  I had given over so much of my life to the will of another person that I had no idea who I was, or what I really wanted for myself.  My life with the now-ex-boyfriend wasn’t my life.  I was a mere accessory to his life, and facing that all down as he and I split up was gut-wrenching.  Of course, being me, I took it all out on myself – and my body.  I ran and ran and ran.  I hit the gym like a fiend.

I had given up on ever finding a person to share my world with, especially considering just how much of a mess it was – I mean, really, who could possibly want to be with a man who was only making about $1000 a month and couldn’t even really afford his own groceries, let alone a nice dinner date or a trip to the movies?  At that point, I had resigned myself to needing to be ultra-self-sufficient, and having to just say no to everything else but work and my bills.  I needed to protect myself, I needed to look strong, and I needed to wear the armor of a muscled man just to face the day.

Then, of course, I met Ray, and I was able to let down my guard.  In the process, I also let down my rabid need to wear the aggressive solo muscled look.  Ray re-introduced me to the world of eating pleasurably.  He supported us both, taking us out on dates, out to the bars and restaurants around Portland, and allowing me to enjoy cuddling up with him rather than one more hour at the gym, or even one more mile on the road.  I gladly accepted the offer to get lazy because, let’s be real, attaining a muscled, chiseled body takes *lots of effort*.  It also can be super consumptive of one’s time and mental energy, and Ray constantly reminds me that there needs to be a better balance in my life than being so obsessed about one thing or another at any one time.

So, while I am not blaming Ray for the extra pounds I’ve put on since knowing him – about 60, if I’m totally honest – I am saying that he’s helped me get to where I am today.  I am happier.  I am more contented in my life.  Instead of having my dreams given to me, I’m having to earn them the right way.  I am still carrying around that inner beast – the protective, muscled, furry, foxy man that I had started becoming as an act of defense.  What I need to do, and what I think is the health journey before me now, is to find a way to let that side of me out, without feeling like I’m doing it as an act of personal protection.  I don’t need the rock-hard chest, the powerful thighs, the narrowed waist to defend me.  What I’d like, though, is all of that as a statement of defiance against the demons of my past.  I want to have that kind of look as a way of saying I have overcome things and I have achieved a better, stronger life.

I know this is rambling, and I know it probably makes no sense, but it’s what I’m feeling, and it’s where I stand today.  I do have a massive health journey ahead of me, but I now know the goal.  I now know what it is I’m seeking.  IMG_3287

A Present and Resolution

This time of year is typically dedicated to getting things for others as a way to show appreciation for having them in your life.  It’s also to mark the occasion of the wheel of the year turning yet again, and spinning us back towards bright, sun-filled days (up here in the north, anyway).  It’s often when thoughts about the New Year are filled with promises to one’s self.  This, for me, has always been true, at least.  I know I set personal goals at my birthday (my Personal New Year), but I also set and/or re-set my goals as January approaches.  For me, it’s just a good way to start things.

This year, I gave myself a holiday present.  I bought 12 weeks worth of coaching on Fitocracy.  The plan I paid into – No Cardio Fat Shred – is a foundational reformation of how I approach food and exercise.  The coach, Jason, seems really nice.  He’s started us off on a real back-to-basics training with our relationships to food.  He’s  In the past, I’ve gone whole-hog into calorie counting, or whole-hog into “clean eating” (nothing processed, mostly “paleo”).  Each one of these diets has left me craving, and in the end, I’ve fallen back into old ruts that are doing absolutely nothing for my waistline, or my self-esteem.

This plan that I’m doing now, along with a number of others from all over the place, including my friend Andy from back in Denver, is all about meeting specific nutritional targets, or macronutrients, all while doing moderately intense activity at the gym.  Immediately after reading the intro to the program, and before shelling over any of my money, I realized this was exactly what I needed:  A way back to “eat right and exercise” advice that made sense.

On days that I’m exercising, I have set target macros.  For me, for now, it’s 200g of protein, 175g of carbohydrates, and 40g of fat. On days that I’m not exercising, I cut out the carbs and eat a little more fat.  I get all the “freebies” I want – vegetables of mostly every sort (except the starchier ones like potatoes).  The workouts aren’t too awful.  It’s about 45 mins at the gym three times a week – also very doable, and no cardio, as the name suggests.  That said, when the weather finally clears and I want to go out for a walk, I’m going to do just that.  I don’t need to do it out of punishment, or turn it into a 10-mile run.  I can just enjoy the stroll.  Just like I can enjoy my food in a reasonable and responsible way that nourishes my body.

Today was day one of the twelve weeks.  We had all of last week to get amped up for the program, and to start thinking about the planning and life shifts we all need to make.  For me, with my work schedule being what it is, meeting the exercise and dietary goals shouldn’t be a huge issue during the week.  At the weekends, when I’m behind the wheel of the bus, might prove to be a little more challenging, but I’ve got to figure it out.  I’ve got a team of people holding me accountable, not to mention my coach, and myself.

My biggest reflection today, as I sat down to enjoy some baked chicken and potatoes, was that I’ve always been ashamed of my body.  I’ve always, always, always hated it, and treated it awfully.  Whether overdoing alcohol, or smoking too many cigarettes, or running miles and miles on an empty stomach, to retching into the toilet just to get rid of anything in my belly, or downing a box of laxatives to “clean out” my insides, I’ve had a horrible, horrible attitude towards my body and form.  I need to relearn how to treat my body with dignity.  Now that I’ve cleaned out the nicotine addiction, and now that I’ve got way more control over the food that is available to me, it’s time to be an adult about it all.

I’ve made this promise and resolution to myself far too many times in the past, only to fall off track time and time again.  I’m done with failing.  I’m done with the shame and guilt of a broken promise. I am adult and it’s time I start treating myself like one.

Diet, Food, and Privilege

For the last three weeks, I’ve been embarking on a new way of eating food.  Well, it’s new to me, and it’s going to sound like a massive fad-diet, which is embarrassing for me to admit to, but it’s working.  I’ve done it before, and had massive results, but as I let myself slip, let myself fall back into old habits, the weight came back (duh).  I’ve cut out the carbohydrates in the food I eat.  Like before, I’m seeing massive weight losses already – something to the order of 12 pounds as of yesterday – and I feel amazing.  I have lots of energy, I’m feeling balanced throughout the day, and I’m simply not feeling the bloat and lethargy that came with gorging out on stuff I used to eat – like pizza, peanut butter sandwiches, bread of any sort really.

I’m also not spending my money on convenience foods.  Our break area at work has vending machines stocked to the gills with grab-and-go foods that are “perfect” for the bus driver job.  What they also are full of, however, is preservatives, chemically altered ingredients, and lots of other nasties that, simply put, my body just stashed away in the form of fat.  I’ve “cleaned up” my calories, so to speak, and am reaping the rewards from it in terms of vitality and overall goodness.

I’ve been here before, lost 25 pounds, and remember feeling spectacular.  Of course, I was also still a smoker then, and it was prior to my moving in with Raymond (a stressor that brought about the comfort-eating/weight gain).  Now that I’ve gotten rid of the smoking, and we’ve settled in quite well with each other, I can get back to me, to my waistline, and the goals I have set for myself.

Again, this is all well and good, and I’m pleased with my results, but what I’ve been paying further attention to this time around is the procurement of food.  On my last go-round with these eating changes, I was putting money into the household food pool with the fellas I lived with, and making a go of eating better out of what was available in the cupboard and fridge.  I didn’t have to hit up the grocery store, and thus didn’t have to experience what buying food was like.  In fact, I hadn’t bought groceries or gone on a proper grocery shop for a very, very long time – something like two years.

One of the pillars of this food thing (I’m still not calling it a diet – a word I rather hate), is eating as close to the source as possible.  Single-ingredient foods, actual cooking, using real ingredients to prepare meals and such – all of the ways in which making food has been done for thousands of years until very recently – are fundamental to this plan.  It also strongly suggests buying as organic/natural as possible, which I’ve done for the most part, and which leads me to the reason for this post in the first place.

I’m having the time of my life learning how to cook again.  I’m really, really enjoying the preparation of food that is nourishing, honest, and wholesome.  I love following instructions (akin to why I love buying IKEA furniture or those little plastic model cars) and achieving results that are pretty decent.  What I’m realizing as I do this, though, is the cost of all of it.  On average, for myself, I’m spending about $100/$150 week on groceries.  That sounds like a lot, and feels like a lot, to me, but when I look back at bank statements that show what I was spending on vending machine food and gas station treats, the cost is about the same.  Still, this is for one person on a decent income.  That’s about $400-$600 a month just to eat right.  That’s a lot.  A lot, a lot.

What I keep thinking about, as I shop, is why food that is better for me, closer to the actual source, and minimally/not-at-all altered by humans and science/chemistry, costs so damn much?  Furthermore, why do I feel like eating healthy and doing right by my actual body has become a privilege, and not a basic human right?  Why, because of my income level, am I afforded the ability to procure food that is life-sustaining and vital, but the person making less than me, or who is reliant on assistance to simply survive, has to then also make do with sub-par food?

I refuse to shop at Whole Foods.  I struggle with even going near Trader Joe’s, or our own locally-run semi-step-down from Whole Foods called New Seasons.  The feeling of classism and entitlement washes over me every time I enter those places.  I go to my local bigger (Kroger) grocery store because it’s not only super-duper close to my house, but because I do need to find stuff on sale/reasonably priced.  Also, it should be said, I feel like I’m shopping among my peers.  I don’t feel the arrogance that I can almost smell on the air when I do happen to pop into a Whole Foods.  I don’t feel like I’m “in the way” of some obviously more important person than I when I’m comparing items on the shelf, or whipping out my calculator to see what my running total is for the food shop while I’m at Kroger.  I’m just a blue-collar working-class schlub getting his food bag on the best way he can for the amount of money that he has.

What remains, though, is this gross pit in my stomach as I wonder why I need to spend more money on food that is actually healthier for me, rather than have that be the industry standard for all food, and made available to everyone at every economic level.  Why can’t a piece of chicken just be chicken, and not “chicken breast meat with salt, preservatives, added fluid, and some chemical that I can’t pronounce, etc?”  Why do I need to go out of my way to get vegetables that aren’t sprayed with goddess-only-knows-what, waxed, or chosen for looking “perfect?”

The point I’m trying to make here is this:  I am fortunate and lucky enough to be in a situation where I can afford to make choices about the quality of the food I eat, and that quality can be quite high, if not the highest available.  I know for a fact, though, especially since food-stamp approved food is clearly marked these days, that not everyone around me is as fortunate.  I know that everyone deserves the right to healthy, real, nutritious, body-positive food, but what I don’t know is why this isn’t so.

In my slow-cooker today is a piece of beef that smells just like the beef I remember having as a kid.  I seared it with salt and pepper, and added beets, carrots, onions, and celery, along with some beef broth that I made earlier this week, and have it set to cook on low for 8 hours.  I cannot wait to see how my first pot roast comes out.

That beef, though, cost me a pretty penny.  It is from grass-fed/pasture-raised cows.  It’s certified organic.  It’s also flown in from Uruguay. It cost me $23 for 2.5 pounds of meat.  I bought it knowing I was splurging, but I can’t seem to understand why this has to be this way.  I mean, I understand the economics behind feeding an exploding population, but surely there has to be a better way, both for the animals that are raised for food, and for the people consuming animals for food.