Friday, April 13, 2012

We all fall down.

Tonight is the eve of my first attempt at actually running a 5K (as opposed to the many I have walked). I’m tired and anxious at the same time but mostly just excited. It’s a non-competitive race and I don’t have any time goals in mind. Basically I am aiming to run as much of the distance as I can (while wearing a gigantic fluffy tutu), to have fun, and to take as many pictures as possible. It’s going to be a good time.

I am finally home after a long week on the road! Today is Friday Weigh-day and I was pleased (and a bit shocked) to look at the scale and see that I lost 1.2 pounds, despite eating restaurant food all week. I did have the forethought to bring along some cereal, almond milk, protein bars and tangerines which was helpful. After work each day I would run back to the hotel and change into my workout gear, then hit the fitness center.

Me & the hotel elliptical on our final day together.
That’s a habit I have found really helpful in my workout routine. My mother taught me from a young age that business comes before pleasure. As a kid, I was not allowed to go outside to play with my friends until my homework was finished. I take the same approach with my workouts; once I have taken care of business, then I can spend the remainder of my time as I wish. It works well for me!

I had some interesting realizations over the course of this trip, one being that it’s OK to not finish everything on my plate. That may seem silly to some but this is a mentality that has been engrained in me from a young age. In elementary school we took a week-long field trip to a YMCA camp in upstate New York. We learned a lot about the environment and about taking responsibility for our actions.

Every day at lunch we would serve ourselves in a buffet/cafeteria-like atmosphere. Once we were finished eating we couldn’t simply dispose of our uneaten food. No, they made us put the excess food in containers which were then weighed and it was ceremoniously announced how many pounds, tons, whatever of food we were wasting. Now, as an adult it’s easy to see that their plan was for kids to serve themselves less food and therefore waste less. However what I learned at that young age was that if I did not want to be shamed for being wasteful, I had to eat everything on my plate whether I was still hungry or not.

Growing up in a large Italian family, that trend continued through my adolescent years. If you didn’t clean your plate, my mother, grandmother or aunt who cooked the food would bombard us with questions about what was wrong with her food. If you ate the entire plate, she would offer you a second plate because you obviously enjoyed the first and she wants you to be happy. It is no surprise that my hunger cues were completely desensitized long before adulthood.

So the other night when I was out to dinner with a coworker eating quite arguably the most delicious melt-in-your mouth slow-roasted pork BBQ ever, I stopped. I’d only eaten about half of the food on my plate but I was noticeably full. Reflexively I wanted to continue eating, because the food tasted so good and well, it didn't make sense to waste it. Why stop now? But stop I did.

Do you know what my first thought was after I put the fork down? I worried that the waiter would think I didn’t care for my meal because half of it was still on the plate. Yes, this really crossed my mind. But should I let a waiter, or a chef, or anyone other than myself dictate how much I should eat to be satisfied? No, I should not. That was a proud moment for me. Even as an adult I sometimes give far too much credit to what others think of my actions.

All of these thoughts were still fresh in my mind today as I was running errands. And as life tends to do, it sent me a message when I least expected it. Browsing through clothing racks, I didn’t see the young girl trip and fall. But the resulting conversation between her and her mother touched my heart.

Mother: Why are you upset, honey?
: Because I’m embarrassed!
Mother: You’re embarrassed? Everybody falls down. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Don't sweat it.

And you know what? ...She’s right.


  1. Good job not sweating it Bang! My family was/still is the same way! But my grandmother would tell me I am fat and then offer me more rice... super annoying!

  2. Loved this post! I struggle with the whole finishing my plate thing too. When I cook at home its easier because I don't put a lot of food on my plate in the first place. But when I eat out it gets hard, I am just know getting to a place when I realize when I am full but my brain tells me to keep eating because I need to finish my plate. Growing up in a middle eastern family our values with regards to finishing your plate are similar to the ones you described. Hell even today My grandmother will keep trying to stuff food in my face telling me to eat eat eat and then 30 min later she will tell me I need to lose weight! Its just a generation thing I guess.

    Great job with hitting the gym while traveling, its a lot harder than people think! :)