Liviting.  Nope.  It is not a real word.  It is one of my own creation because that's what I'm doing.  To help you define this, I will tell you that it is the opposite of dieting.  I've never liked that word.  Not because of the mental pictures of rice cakes and boiled chicken that pop into my head when I think of dieting but because I have failed at pretty much any diet "program" I have tried.

I did a couple of different rounds of Sl*m F*st. Neither lasted very long. Along the way, I discovered that I am a violent eater.  There is something very satisfying about the crunching action and the crunching sound.  I tried the fat free thing when all those product first hit the market back in the early 90's.  What I discovered about that is fat free doesn't mean calorie free (extra salt and sugar and who knows what else are often added to the product because taking the fat out makes it tasteless).  I also discovered that fat free cheese and fat free mayonnaise are GROSS!  The cheese doesn't melt. Shredded cheddar that doesn't melt when subjected to heat is a crying out loud shame.  I've never tried the various diet pills.  The side effects of some of those are rather frightening.  In the late 90's...into the early 2000's, there were some fat blocking medications that hit the market.  (Forgive me...the next bit of information may qualify as "too much information.") Among the possible issues with taking this medicine were excessive/uncontrollable flatulence and explosive diarrhea!  Perhaps you understand my hesitation.  Another sort of diet pill ended up causing serious cardiac death.  I experimented with the sugar free movement and decided that the chemical taste of artificial sugar is not worth the calories spared.  Why the chemical taste?  That's what you get when something is made solely of chemicals. One or two microwaveable meals from the freezer section have fallen into my buggy, now and then.  You know the ones.  Sensible portions, low fat and all that. Meh.  I've even attempted "eating X for breakfast, Y for lunch and Z for supper" every day. That lasted two days? I should have know that one was destined for failure because cooking is such a creative outlet for me.  The struggle is real, y'all.

For me, it's always been real. And I'm certain I'm not the only one.  At some point in elementary school, food became a comfort. It was a way of making up for the hurts and for the confusion.  It didn't really make up for the hurts.  It didn't really resolve the confusion.  At best, all it every provided was momentary distraction. Momentary. Not permanent.  Big difference.

After a trip to the local ER, last fall, with what I thought were the signals of a heart attack, I decided it was time to make some permanent changes.  Turned out that it wasn't cardiac, but most likely anxiety.  This was on the heels of Mr. Snark's job change and itinerant relocation to The Son-In-Love Suite, so why not anxiety?  It also turns out that I'm a serious lightweight when it comes to anxiety. This reality came to light after receiving what amounts to a kiddie dose of sedative in my IV.  I'm told that I switched to S L O W M O T I O N.  I'm also told that some of my work friends found seeing me in S L O W M O T I O N to be rather disturbing.  No cardiac blood labs indicated room for improvement.  Permanent improvement.

I've given up red meat.  And I didn't know how difficult that was going to be until I sat across the table from a friend who ordered a cheeseburger, cooked to a perfect degree of pinkness on the inside. No lie...I felt my canine teeth get about two inches longer.  It talked to me.  The cheeseburger talked to me!  I'm quite sure this is how Edward Cullen felt the first time he smelled Bella.  I gave up fried food...for the most part.  It's tomato season which means there are garden fresh green tomatoes...which means there are going to be the random garden fresh FRIED green tomatoes coming out of my kitchen.  Gotta have 'em!  I didn't eat a lot of fried food, anyway.  My gallbladder is cantankerous and fried food just gives it reason to make it's dysfunctional presence known.  No ice cream.  No more sodas.  Greatly reduced the amount of starches.  Whole grains instead of refined. Cut down, significantly, on my intake of cheese.  Added fish to the menu on a more regular basis.  LOTS of spinach, LOTS of kale.  LOTS of fruit.  LOTS of water.  Heart healthy nuts.  Intentional choices.

As good and beneficial as I know these choices are, it hasn't been easy.  My pals from the clinic will tell you that I have battled with my cravings.  I have aggressively munched my way through more than one salad, pretending they were bacon double cheeseburgers.  My director walked in with a chicken sandwich from our local branch of Truett Cathey's Chicken Shack and I literally teared up at the smell of it.  Hand to heaven!  One treacherous, shameful tear slid down my face because it smelled SO GOOD!  I have rested my head on my desk and vocally prayed for God to take the craving for salty, greasy, fatty but oh, SO delicious foods away from me.  My children get tickled with my craving announcements..."I want ice cream, French fries and gravy!"  A few days ago, I stood outside a coffee/donut shop, waiting for a friend to get her coffee.  I went in, used the restroom and came out and was going to wait with my friend but the racks of donuts were in full view and like the cheeseburger, those evil donuts started talking to me.  So I walked outside and stood by my friend's car.  And I kicked at her tires.  And I grumbled and muttered...because that's what mature middle aged women struggling with cravings do!  I recently asked a friend why kale didn't taste like fried chicken and why fried chicken didn't have the same health dividends as kale?  My friend simply said, "Because kale is kale and fried chicken is fried chicken."  I have very smart friends.  I have lost weight.  Best I can guess is twenty pounds.  Some of my very smart friends say it's more than that.  People have been very sweet and encouraging and complimentary.  I don't quite know what to do with all of that, other than try to be as sincerely grateful for their affirmations.

So...liviting versus dieting.  I'm living through this.  I want to live it.  I'm doing this so the quality of my living will be improved and that the longevity of that living has a better chance.  Eating to live...not eating to die. Or dying to eat the things that might hasten my death.

Hmmm...a brownie sure would be good.  Lawd, have mercy!


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