Four months ago, Justin and I were sitting on the front porch of our new apartment in Rhode Island. It was mid-September and a thick haze enveloped the city. We puffed on what became our last cigarettes, sucked down an iced coffee from some corporate slag and made a decision right there: our lives needed to change on the inside.
I call this post Four Years Undone because it is just a bit more than four years earlier that I left Spokane for California in which almost all of my habits had exploded into some sort of megahabit for many reasons, none of which are important.
My time spent in California landed me an extra fifty pounds of weight and an extra half-pack of cigarettes a day and almost no whole foods. To say I was suffering from depression is an understatement and like most things the bad came with an equally opposing good: I met Justin in California and, well, he’s pretty great. So it wasn’t all horrible.
This is the best part though. Today, both Justin and I weigh less than we did when we met four years ago. Bonus: Neither of us smoke, we eat only local organic produce, unless there is absolutely no other option and we have less than one bag of garbage a week for the two of us. We don’t drive cars. We stopped using plastic bags. We recycle religiously.
And we did it in less than four months.
The thing is, it’s not really all that difficult to lose weight. The hard part is changing long-lived habits and deep-rooted, ill-informed opinions in a world that is guided by corporate interests that feed on your pocketbook.
I remember having a conversation with a close friend once about Americans having too many choices. I know we, as Americans, tend to think having many options is a sign of strength and freedom, but it can also be used as a manipulating tactic to create a disarray or a confusion, only to then have some well-spun corporate agent offer some convenient solution. This is what has happened time and time again for as long as American History has existed, evolved and been rewritten. Convenience almost always wins because humans, innately, are lazy.
“But Keri, what are you saying? That cheeseburger is only 59c today, being Special Cheeseburger Sunday, and all…”
A statement like this doesn’t factor in the bigger cost. Money is the least expensive currency we can spend. The greenhouse gasses emitted from the production of said 59c cheeseburger is far more expensive. Consider the cost of you getting in your car and driving the half mile to wait in the drive-thru line; the cost of said cheeseburger on the liver; the cost of the corn that fed the cows (that they can’t digest really so they are shot up with antibiotics) and the cost of that corn’s toxic runoff into our rivers (killing loads of fish, increasing the “need” for corn-fed fish farming). And that’s before we even get to the calorie load.
The likelihood that an adult would be satisfied with a 59c cheeseburger is almost asinine, so factor in the $2 coke, the $3 fries and maybe the 2 other “cheap” burgers for a $7 gastrointestinal festival that will leave you nothing short of starving in 2 short hours.
Now consider that for $7 we both eat nutritionally sound, whole food for an entire day with a carbon footprint hardly bigger than our backyard.
I’m not trying to get on a soapbox; I recognize how difficult it is to make changes. I’m not even asking you to make these changes; I’m simply asking you to think about the true costs of things you think are inexpensive or convenient or both.
It’s true, too, that everyone gets in a bind on occasion, and the use of convenient things shouldn’t be shunned entirely – that would be unreasonable and aim for failure, which is never something we would encourage.
All I’m trying to say is that it’s really not that hard. Eat mindfully, locally and consciously and you will be surprised at how quickly you can undo all that has been done.