This morning I arose from my bed singing a showtune and gracefully stepped outside to pick some produce and herbs from my garden. Then I road my bicycle to the farmer’s market where I purchased 100-percent grass-fed free-range beef and chicken. As I peddled home under a blue sky, I thought of the delicious concoctions I would soon be whipping up in the large, stainless-steel theater that is my immaculate kitchen. The heavens opened wide and angels started singing my name in praise and then I woke up and realized that I have a cold, there is no vegetable garden in the backyard (mostly mud and shade, if you must know), and I never learned how to cook.
Weight loss is hard for me in part because in order to succeed I will have to abandon certain perfectionist notions. For example, consider the thoughts that ran through my head as I dragged my cough-wracked body through HEB this morning: You have failed if you get non-organic bananas! Anyway all bananas are from faaar away and you are killing the environment regardless. Your carbon footprint is the size of Lake Erie! Followed by: Frozen fish fillets? Are you fucking joking? You should be catching them fresh. With your bare hands. And then, in short order: Instant oatmeal?!! You philistine, has all your research taught you nothing?! They must be steel-cut oats. Steel. Cut. I had a vision of Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford looming over me: “No instant foods . . . EVAR!!!”
I have to ignore that voice (although it makes some valid points occasionally), because if I truly indulged in its rants I would never begin. Never change. Paralyzed by inaction, I would continue my daily diet of candy, cranium-sized muffins, takeout, and pizza. As the 12-steppers say: Progress, not perfection is the order of the day. For me, eating even a single piece of fruit per day is progress. And today I’ve already had two! For those of you who’ve been on the healthy eating track for a long time, that may sound paltry. But for me it’s a major improvement in just the single day I’ve been back on Weight Watchers.
Although convenience foods (like instant oatmeal and Lean Cuisine Spa meals) still figure into my new food plan, I’m mixing it up by actually making some meals myself. To an individual more accomplished in the kitchen than I, making hamburgers tonight might sound like nothing. But for me? Major! So what if the bun is filled with ingredients whose names I can’t pronounce (I can see Michael Pollan frowning down on me from his locally-fed, sustainable cloud); well, it’s still a start. My primary goal is to lose weight eating from all the food groups, and to keep my sanity.
For the record, I really enjoy Michael Pollan’s work and the writings of the many passionate and idealistic real-food fans out there. Sometimes I admire them all so much that I think: Why bother? I’ll never be that green, that healthy, that self-sustaining. But then I set myself straight, re-visit my priorities, and realize afresh that Numero Uno is to lose weight and start incorporating fruits and veggies into my life again. Once I’m in a groove with that, then I can add some other stipulations, such as visiting the (admittedly awesome) farmer’s market for a few items Saturday mornings and sticking to buying only free-range meat all the time.
In the meantime, I’ll do what my budget and mental health allow for. Today, that meant store-brand lean ground beef and organic eggs and chicken. Not perfect, but progress. I’ll take it.