Commit to Fit | Week 10

Author | Commit to Fit 2012 Winner, Karl Mason

I am surrounded by people who offer support and encouragement to me on a regular basis regarding my workout program and nutrition. I value and appreciate it all but I have begun to notice a couple of behavioral changes emerging from those around me. First of all, whenever food is involved in any activity I am involved in, the situation turns slightly tense (for lack of better word) or a bit contemplative for a few minutes. It usually involves a few darting eyes or glances being exchanged as the others in my immediate circle look for confirmation that it was ok to ask if that food is ok to eat or if it would be appropriate for us to eat at a certain restaurant or eatery; and nine times out of ten involves me having to make a final decision on what and where to eat vs the group making the decision as a whole.

There have been instances where a suggestion was not made at all because someone, out of respect for my new found healthiness, will not suggest something or may forego what he/she wants or craves in order not to make me feel uncomfortable about eating. Instantly, I become and feel uncomfortable. I do not want to hold anyone back from what they want. If you want it, suggest it.

For example, while making dinner plans the other day with some super close friends, we had a 25 min discussion/debate on what to have for dinner. After much back and forth and not arriving at any decision, I said that while I appreciated my friends’ efforts and concern for me and for the process of making healthier decisions, I needed each of them to really KNOW – and understand – that no matter the restaurant, destination or cuisine chosen, I was absolutely capable of navigating and handling the situation and making the best decision for ME from any given menu when the time came. No suggestion and/or decision would render me helpless or reduce me to panic or tears. I save my tears for Mike’s workouts! I am sure each and every place that serves food can accommodate the request for a healthy meal…even McDonalds has salad! My favorite Chinese take-out restaurant even recently added a “Health Food Entrees” section which consists of white or brown rice, a protein, steamed vegetables and a sauce on the side. To say the least, I love take-out and am very thankful for these options. It may not be Sesame Chicken in all of its fried-gooiness-glory but it is quick and most importantly, tasty!  Options do exist! Knowing what the options are and the questions to ask and how to communicate with the staff at any restaurant are keys, lessons I learned growing up and working in the food industry. In most instances when going out, I now explain that I may be looking for a healthier option to something on the menu and want to see what the chef/place can accommodate. I choose a grilled protein and steamed veggies or side salad with dressing on the side, if nothing is available.

When stripped down to the bare bones, the nugget of truth I hoped my friends realized about food and eating out is that it is NOT really about the food or the restaurant experience ultimately. It is about sharing time and energy with people you care about and love. It is about being together. Being together is the most valuable experience. Food and the establishment are only vehicles to make that happen. I don’t expect people to change their habits or adopt my new found routine. I do, however, expect them to respect my choices as my own and to be able to make decisions and stand by their own personal choices.

The second behavior I am noticing is that if someone around me is eating something that may not be the wisest choice in the grand scheme of health, the person immediately offers some excuse to me about why he/she is eating it, basically apologizing because they are about to eat it. Why are people doing this? I wish they would stop. I do not need and am definitely not looking for an apology for anything. In the past, that person would have offered me some of whatever he/she was having or may have gone on about how much he/she loved what he/she was about to eat. If someone is feeling guilty about eating something because I am around or I see something in a lunch or fast food bag or on his/her plate, maybe that person has a real reason to feel guilty! LOL I am chalking it up to maybe that person realizes what choices he/she is making may be questionable from a nutritional perspective but are unable at that specific time and place to make a different decision. Secretly I am thinking...Shame is an ugly beast – and so is that plate full of fresh out of the fryer onion rings with a side of ranch for dippin’! But who I am to judge?  When the above happens, I sometimes am made to feel I am the food police or a nutrition judge. Getting healthy does not afford me judgments about other’s choices. I have enough issues policing my own choices and daily calories that I don’t have the time or energy to police someone else’s. I have learned I needed to look realistically how I was eating in order to change it. I am my own judge, jury and often times prosecutor – more so than ever now. Old themes recycled and updated. I wish everyone else had the capability to be or would be his/her own judge too! The next time this happens, I have decided I am going to ask: Is my healthiness making you uncomfortable? Yes the person answers. Excellent I think and will say really think about why and draw your own conclusions…