Battle for the Bulge

I’ve noticed especially recently, when I am now very much focusing upon getting myself healthier, that the food industry does not want this happen.  AT ALL!  I mean, if you poke your head inside a set of grocery store doors you gain sixty-five pounds, right then and there!  If you actually choose to walk past the front doors, then weight gain chases you up and down the aisles attaching itself to your body faster than you can run it off.  If you don’t believe me look at the frozen and canned food aisles, as opposed to the fresh or naturally grown food aisles.

The price differences are astronomical!  The fresh or naturally grown healthier for you foods are more expensive than the pre-processed, food-additive-d, growth hormone added, chemical infused, sodium (salt) laden canned and frozen foods.  Additionally, the food industry is putting more water with chemicals or flavors in the frozen and un-breaded meat products, which they justify by saying it’s necessary for preservation or some such non-sense.  In reality all it does is up the weight of the food item so they sell you less product for more money, yes, they even do this with some of the fresh meats too.

Many of the frozen foods are either cheesed to death, sauced to the hilt, buttered until one could slide to the loo instead of walk, and or the salt content is so high you could be your own “Great Salt Lake“.  If you try to find just plain old frozen vegetables in one of the large super stores in my town it’s a rare find.  All I want is a in a small sixteen ounce bag of un-adulterated vegetables, is this too much to ask?

Usually though, the un-adulterated vegetables are sold in “family size” only (twenty-six ounces +) OR you have to buy the single dinner size microwave “steam-able pouches”, which means you must have a freezer the size of your car’s trunk to store all the frozen food items you take home.

When I asked a frozen food aisle worker where to find just plain old frozen veggies, without any sauces, in small bags; they said, “Oh, they’re over here.”  We then proceeded up and down every frozen food aisle they had, which I’d already done, looking for those elusive bags of frozen veggies.  After a while the worker looked at me and said, “Uh, I guess we don’t sell them.”  When I asked them why, they said they have no control over what “Corporate” sends them and walked away.

Yes, I called the Corporate offices when I got home, because I’m a consumer and I figured I’d let them know I wasn’t pleased with their choices of veggies.  First I asked them why they decided not to sell the smaller sized packages of plain veggies anymore.  Their answer was they send food to their stores based what their computers tell them are the products most purchased or consumed by their customers.  I advised them I was one of their “consumers” who didn’t agree with their computers and didn’t want to buy the “sauced” veggies (I said this in a very nice way too),  and could they please bring back the regular size non-sauced vegetables.

This is when the conversation began to get very wearisome.  They offered me coupons to try the “sauced” vegetables; they were sure I’d like them if only I’d try them.  I kindly advised Corporate, that while I would very much like to take them up on their offer of free food it was not within my nutritional plan for me to eat such vegetables.

Corporate then decided to become more creative, they offered me “cents-off” coupons for the great big family size or the steam-able bags of frozen vegetables, my choice.  This would have brought the price down by a whopping fifty cents, wow, let me rush to the registers!  I once again very kindly explained, that while I would very much like to take advantage of their offer, the space in which I lived was a bit on the diminutive side, so I didn’t own a freezer for which to hold the size or number of those items.

Then it was as if Corporate couldn’t get me off the phone fast enough because I was just wasting their time; they weren’t going to change for just me, the computers advised them that the customer demand was for the other items and they would be continuing with the path on which they now were.  The whole time I was speaking to this Corporate office, I felt as if I was talking to the teacher in the scene from the movie “Breakfast Club”.  It was one of those moments of “Beuller?  Beuller?  Beuller?  Beuller?”  They treated me like I was a child who didn’t have a clue about which I was talking and I was just “absent”!

Well, guess what I’ve learned from other customer’s I’ve spoken to?  If a customer doesn’t have any other  affordable healthy choices provided to them, when they want to make healthy choices, then of course they’re more than likely going to choose unhealthy foods!

I believe the food industry does get this concept.  However,  it’s making so much money on the “addictive” unhealthy foods it just doesn’t give a rats patooty as long as they sell food and make a profit.  Especially when it’s their store brand or another name brand product which brings in a lot more money for them.  The more money in their pockets the better, so what do they care if their customers are dying from health problems, there will be more behind them coming along soon enough.

Now, I wonder, when is our government or our American public going to finally stand up say, “I’m not going to take this anymore!” and force the food industry to lower the prices on the non-processed food items.  Thereby enabling us to eat healthier and maker better food choices, if we so choose, or at least give us all that chance!

Okay, here’s another pet peeve.  Practically every building in which you walk there is a vending machine.  The vending machines give you unhealthy choices more often than they give you healthy choices.  A bottle of water from a vending machine costs more than a can or bottle of soda; however, a fresh apple will cost you much more, will have bruises, no flavor and a grainy texture (it’s like they go out of their way to choose the worst fruits to put in there or something), while the chips and candy bars are a third less the price; we won’t discuss the taste of these items.

I’ve looked at the back of many of the Weight Watchers® pre-packaged food items and, for one, they are so high in salt in a one serving pre-packaged meal it’s amazing their clients don’t die from a stroke or high blood pressure (by eating one of their purportedly healthier products) right at the kitchen table.  Second, the fat and carbohydrate contents are not lower than that of other similar “healthy” pre-processed food items found on the shelves.  Nor are the protein or fiber content any different, and finally, their products don’t fill you – they’re high in PointsPlus® values and leave you feeling hungry and dissatisfied.  Just like all the other pre-processed foods!  BTW, I called them too, I had the same experience with them as I did with the “Corporate” grocery store.  Free food, cents-off… “Beuller?  Beuller?  Beuller?  Beuller?”

In my opinion out to eat, should at least be given a choice between what is healthy and what is not.  This means with absolute full disclosure about the product they are receiving.  Not just a list of ingredients a person can’t pronounce let alone has to look up in a dictionary to discover the purpose thereof, but also the restaurants should be required to provide the Nutritional Values on demand (not on-line), just like one finds on food labels at the grocery store.

However, when a person goes out to eat, even the items listed on the “healthier for you” menus must be carefully read through.  Because, there, hidden in among those healthy for you ingredients are the not so healthy for you “filler” items, which make you feel full or satisfied.  Those not so healthy for you items, like cheese, real bacon bits, nuts, croutons etc. , which make it taste wonderful but also send the calorie, fat, salt, and chemical contents way through the roof.

Sitting here in front of my computer munching on my current favorite snack – Dole Banana Dippers with Almonds, I wonder if a person did a “ratio” on the number of  snack (or unhealthy) food product aisles, compared to number of aisles available to the consumer which are fully stocked with healthy, affordable foods; would we find the ratio leaning hard towards the un-healthy?  Based upon my shopping experiences my supposition on this would be a resounding yes!

Once again, in my opinion, people, always, no matter if a person goes to a grocery store they should always be given the equal opportunity to buy affordable healthy fresh food items, not just the quick inexpensive prepackaged stuff laden with unhealthy junk that kills us.

Every year, right after Christmas, the parade of ads begin for “having success this coming year with your New Years’ Resolution.”  All the “how to’s” you could ever want such as, discounts to gym memberships, health programs, kitchen gadgets etc. can be seen in a matter of moments.  They’re on T.V., radio, in the news papers, and even on the internet.  All they all talk about is getting ahead of that battle of the bulge and making sure when summer rolls around your new swim suit will make you look like a fashion run-way model and not you doing the rolling down that run-way.

Whereas, just as fervently, if not more so; the food industry (including restaurants) step up their ads for “specials” on this that or the other menu items.  Every time you turn your head you’re hit with a thought about food, where to get it, how fast you can get it, and just how cheap it really is.  But wait, there’s more, still!  Yes, we now have even healthier food choices for you to choose from so come on by and see what we have because you know we’re your favorite place on earth to get…

I want to find it funny and I can’t, but even our hospital cafeterias are serving un-healthy food choices such as fried foods pre-packaged, processed, greasy, salty, chips, soda pops, and most of the hospitals don’t give alternative healthier choices.  This is for their staff and the family members of patients who are staying at the hospital, or for the patients who are at the hospitals for just a day trip.  Look around, even the hospital staff are unhealthy!  I’m not talking about their weight, I’m talking about their habits.  They’re forced to sit most of the day behind a desk, or carry out long shifts while doing mindless grazing of whatever food they can get their hands on just to fuel their bodies enough so they can make it through their shift.  Some can’t remember the last time they took a pee let alone ate a real meal or had a chance to take a break.

Do these hospitals care, are they doing anything about it, like making sure each member of their staff has an uninterrupted break so they’re not stressed out from long work days?  Apparently no, they are not!  I still hear of hospitals, which have their doctors, nurses, and emergency staff on shifts consisting of 3 to 4 days straight, on (yes, that’s no sleeping during that time-frame) and then one day off; then they start all over again.  By the way, most hospital “policies” do have a clause which state these staff people must catch an eight-hour snooze, but this is to cover the hospital’s own bottoms, it is not a reality for their staff.  I must be fair, the hospitals do offer their staff with a great comfortable bed on which to sleep: such as a cot with a hospital blanket and pillow; these are usually found inside a broom closet-like room set off the side of all the “action” on the medical floor.

It’s important to remember this, because these staff members are “on-call” during their entire shift, so they get awakened from sleep when a consultation must take place on the medical floor.  Therefore the area in which they sleep must be on the floor for which they are serving at the time.  This also means there is lots of noise, with which they must contend during their time of rest.  Hospitals have a lot of audacity to query mistakes made by their staff, this astounds me when their fellows and staff get pushed to such a degree.  Go figure; and don’t get me started any further on this one.

Let’s get back to the original subject shall we, in reality we all know body types vary by our eating, activity and resting habits learned while growing up as a child, our inherited genetics, the current length of our lunch-time and requirements of the job during said time, and even our current environment, i.e. stress levels, sit-down jobs, etc.  Speaking of environments, heaven forbid you walk into an interview with a few extra pounds!  The only thing that runs through the interviewers’ mind is, health insurance costs, productivity levels based on body size, etc.  Oh come on, don’t hassle me here, you know I’m right about this one, I’ve spoken (off the job site) with human resource and people who hire people, it’s exactly one of the deciding factors even though they’re not allowed to voice it due to discrimination laws.

Kids’ parents berated because their child is over the average weight for their average height for their age group; girls are being obsessively and continually pounded into the ground with what they will look like, starting as early as age two and three.  Because now we have them competing in beauty contests where they’re expected to dress up and act like the real grown up women in the real beauty pageants – oh boy, you hadn’t better get me started on this area, either.  About children being dressed like adults and taught adult “words, body actions and language” because, oh isn’t it just so cute!  When I see the Children’s Pageants and look at the clothing available for children on the store racks – all I can think of is…

Can we say “fishery(s) for pedophiles just waiting to happen?”  If you don’t believe me go to the children’s clothing aisles and browse through, take your time, get a really good look at what we’re trying to turn our children especially our little girls into.

You bet I’m angry, I want to fight back at the food industry, and even the fashion industry but I don’t really know how.  However,

HERE ARE SOME OF MY IDEAS I’VE EITHER BEEN DOING, HEARD OF, TRIED, OR HAVE DONE, ETC.

Check with your doctor before starting to do anything “new” in a health regimen, especially when it comes to a new or different activity or exercise, or food eating practice.  Healthy is healthy.  This is what one doctor told me.  What is healthy for one person is not healthy for another person and this is why we need to have each person get evaluated and set up for a focus on their own health.

To heck with the grocery stores, when the season opens, start supporting your local farmer’s markets instead.  Did you know you can go straight to a meat locker and order your own meat?  Yes you can, get together with some family members or neighbors, plan ahead pull your money together and figure on buying a cow or a pig or some chickens, or goats, etc.  Get those processed and packaged by the meat locker an divide it accordingly.  Yes it might be more expensive, but at least you know you are getting healthier foods.

Before you eat lunch and at your break, after you pee, take a walk around your building, if it’s a reasonable distance around that you will return in time so you’re not late or so you don’t have to “wolf-down” your meal.  If it’s not paved or it’s too large outside, then find a comfortable space inside.  Find a large enough area for a decent walk and unblocked (by shut doors) then walk around this area.  Or if that’s not possible and you have stairs, go walk up and down the stairs!  Make it a practice to not make calls on your breaks or lunch, that includes personal calls.  This is your time to decompress and relieve your stress, take it, be selfish.

Keep water with you at all times, in your hand, if not at your desk.  I knew one woman who used to bring a gallon jug of water to work every day (she was a telemarketer too) and she had that gone by the end of her shift.  That was her way of “monitoring” the amount of water intake she had each day.  I carry a twenty-four ounce sports bottle with me, on average I’m refilling it with the coldest water I can find about every thirty to forty-five minutes, but then I have “dry mouth” syndrome.

Work?  Pretend you have to pee every half hour to forty-five minutes, take the long way around then walk around in the bathroom a few times for good measure and take the long way back, if someone comes in, quick go for the sink and be washing your hands then leave.    While sitting, practice pulling in and holding your tummy muscles for the count of ten wait ten and do it again, challenge yourself to increase the time you’re holding it in.  Pick up a clipboard, have a pen in your other hand and walk with a purpose, doesn’t matter to where, it makes you look like you’re on an official business trip to some place, walk briskly and come back soon just as briskly.

On the phones?  Get up while you’re making that spiel!  Step in place, do some in-place backward knee kicks.  Hold your hands together in front of you at shoulder level and twist at our waist keeping your hips in place.    While sitting, practice pulling in and holding your tummy muscles for the count of ten wait ten and do it again, challenge yourself to increase the time you’re holding it in.  Make sure you are doing your wrist and ankle exercises to keep the blood blowing.  Bring in a short footstool that’s long enough to put your keyboard on and type while standing, when you aren’t using it for your keyboard use it for your feet so fluids don’t pool in your ankles.  Oh, and find a nice flat-bottomed tall vase or garbage can to turn upside down when you’re standing so you can use it for your mouse.  If you know someone handy with wood craft have them make these for you.

Over the Road Driver?  Stop every hour, walk around and do muscle stretches.  Do you have cruise control?  Put it on cruise and do (safely) ankle circles for a few seconds at a time.  While sitting, practice pulling in and holding your tummy muscles for the count of ten wait ten and do it again, challenge yourself to increase the time you’re holding it in.  No one else around at the rest stop, crank up the radio to a good song and dance your heart out till the song is over, then do it again after you take a brief rest through the next song.  Long-Distance Over the Road Driver?  The same goes as the above.  Are you allowed and can you afford a small to medium-size dog?  Get one, not only will it keep you company, it’s someone to talk to, it’s loyal, it’s prove to reduce stress, it’ll force you to make a stop to give it a chance to do its thing and help you get your exercise too because you’ll either be walking it or playing ball or Frisbee with it.  You Over the Road Drivers do the same (safely) wrist exercises too as those who are at a desk job all day long.

Don’t let the Food Industry or the Battle for the Bulge Win!  We can do this, it takes a lot of courage and self-discipline, encouragement and maybe some team work – find a co-worker willing to join you.