Hedonistically Healthy | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Hedonistically Healthy

I'm not big on deprivation. Never have been, and I've been blessed to not feel like I've had to deprive myself much over the years in order to be healthy or to maintain a decent weight. Of course, I suppose I've been blessed that I'm not a big fan of many habits that are really bad for you, like eating meat or smoking. To me, those things aren't hedonistic pleasures. They are habits that offend my sensibilities.

Of course, I do have my non-guilty pleasures. My main bad habit was always drinking alcohol. I learned to be a partier at Mississippi State, and, well, was kind of good at it. But in recent years, I'm much more interested in quality over quantity—give me one good golden margarita any day over several mixed from bad tequila. Likewise: I can drink half a mug of a good pilsner beer or a glass of Cabernet or pinot grigio, and I'm good. I like to say that I'm pleased that the hangovers hurt worse than they used to: Who wants to drink like a 20-year-old in your 40s? It tends to mean that you need help.

I haven't eaten meat (which means any animal, folks, including fish and chicken) in over a decade, and that isn't hard at all. And it means I have a more interesting and varied diet, and try more things, than I ever did when I ate meat. But I have never been on a "diet" in my life, and never plan to.

I hate those trendy diets that, inevitably, don't work and are unhealthy. I tend to think more European than that: It's more about portion control and moderation. That is, you just don't need the delicious unhealthy dish you love every day or every week. (And this is my advice to people who don't want to give up meat: Do as Todd and I initially did and have meat "as a garnish," as he called it. Or, have it once or twice a week.)

Of course, we all have our dietary weaknesses, and mine are bread, pasta, carbs. Fortunately, it is easier to get bread without trans-fats (the healthiest is at Rainbow), and we eat whole-grain pasta now. But I am too much of a hedonist to give up bread entirely. I'm happy not to eat a pig or cow, but don't get between me and a good baguette! On this Road to Wellness, though, I am eating less bread, and am trying to eat everything more mindfully.

I am also discovering the hedonistic pleasure of good fruit, which is easier during the summer, of course. One challenge is always getting delicious, organic fruit that we can afford. But I've also started reminding myself how much we are willing to pay for two cups of coffee at a coffee shop: no more than a bag of sweet cherries can cost. And I love going to the farmer's market, although I don't always get there on Saturdays in time to get the best stuff. And I do love my smoothies in the morning: dump in a mixture of fresh and frozen fruit (I always use a banana for smoothness), non-fat vanilla yogurt, flax powder or oil, soy milk, organic fruit juice, soy protein powder, and blend. It couldn't be easier. Or prettier.

I'm also getting to the gym more with Todd—two or three times a week—and I take meditative walks in the a.m. I've found that I must get up early, read a bit, write a list of seven things I'm grateful for (in my cute little Buddha journal). I'm trying to add a short sitting meditation to that routine, but so far, I run out of time, and have to get out and walk and water my tomatoes, peppers and herbs on the deck. I also like a quick shot of Vitamin D by walking in the early sun, and I like breathing deeply and looking at the trees and flowers around Fondren. Of course, I also talk to all the animals, especially my favorite friend-cats and friend-dogs. All of that helps me center my day early.

By the way, I don't believe in guilt or regret; talk about unhealthy! If I skip a few days of the gym or eat most of a baguette, I look forward. For years, I've tried to use the past as a lesson, but not as a weapon against myself. That, I've learned, is a major component of mindfulness that has become a key element of my personal spirituality. I'm not perfect, but I am present more than I used to be. And that makes, and keeps, me happy.

By the way, I've found this "Healthy Hedonist" book and now website very inspiration for my brand of wellness.

Previous Comments

ID
158859
Comment

DKaye, I thought Ole Miss was the school known for promoting or enduring an overindulgence in white lightening, oil, liquor or staggering juice. Now we learn State is just as guilty. What about the parties that don't involve any alcohol? It is possible you know. For me luckily or unluckily as my friends declare, I've never had any interest in alcohol or drugs. If I'm ever found with either in my system everyone should know someone poured or forced it down my throat. Now food is a different matter. In my younger days I ate up everything in the house and never gained weight because I played some kind of sport every day and all day if I could. I actually thought I couldn't get fat. When I reached 40 all hell broke loose. Weight jumped on me like the little boy running from the lion. I can't get the weight to go away now. Starches and bread are my favorite foods. I can't eat without bread. I don't have to have any meats but I got to have some bread. Keep the cigarettes, coffee and the likes, but pass the bread. Exercise turns fat to muscle but I rarely lose any weight. Thank God for the fat rappers who made large and in charge sexy.

Author
Walt
Date
2010-07-27T17:02:52-06:00
ID
158864
Comment

i'm glad to see there are other people who understand it's not about a "diet." it only took me 33 years to learn what a portion looked like, and how, in moderation, i can enjoy most anything. i have lost a considerable amount of weight (ok, so it's more than considerable, it's a whole person), and i wish i would have done so sooner. just last night, i overindulged in sweets, and immediately felt guilty and physically ill. the positive is that i now recognize when i have done wrong. 15 months ago, i would have felt ill, and done the same thing again the next day - and likely, the next. physical activity is something i can't imagine doing without, whereas in the past, i couldn't imagine being active. walking 50 yards would leave me breathless, and these days, i'm running 5 miles. i do measure and weigh food, & i count sun chips. but 15 months in, i'm still a newbie, breaking habits i've had my whole life. people ask, "are you going to do this for the rest of your life?" i always answer, "why wouldn't i?" the road to wellness can be bumpy, but i always see the asphalt truck and steamroller a few steps ahead, and know, it's the path i'm meant to be on.

Author
2599
Date
2010-07-27T21:59:42-06:00
ID
158891
Comment

2599 this is encouraging news from you and Donna. I'll keep on trying to lose weight. So far the doctor says I'm healthy, I'm without high blood pressure and I'm outrunning diabetes which is a family malady. The measuring of food the right way is a good idea too. I've been measuring but only to make sure I leave enough for others to eat. Now I realize I'm supposed to be measuring the portions I'm to eat. My bad!

Author
Walt
Date
2010-07-28T18:42:43-06:00
ID
159111
Comment

Good for you Ladd! I have several friends who are vegans to the bone. That is taking life a bit toooooo far for me. I can give up the four legged creatures, cows, pigs, goats, ect: The two legged ones, chickens, birds - that's ok also. Just don't ask me to give up the water critters, i.e., fish, shrimp, lobster. Walt, I think that the over 40 mark, for most people, can signal some very impressive numbers on the wgt. scale and I don't mean the decending order. LOL!

Author
justjess
Date
2010-08-05T12:08:57-06:00

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