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To Eat or Not to Eat
by Sreedhar Subramaniam MALAYSIAN INSIDER
November 07, 2010 — Amazing! There are over 12 million instances for a Google search for the words “diet plans”. Oh no! Another piece speaking about how overweight we all are! Actually, I am overweight too. I have a favourite statement that tells you something about my glorious past.
About “40 pounds” ago, I used to run for the school cross country team. When I returned from my studies overseas and started my working life, my first 1,500-metre race saw me beat the second finisher by 200 metres.
So what happened? Where did it all go wrong? How could you put on all that weight? Can you imagine how much effort it takes to carry an extra 40 pounds for more than 20 years? Air Asia should be charging “excess baggage”. Don’t get any ideas, Tony!
The truth of the matter is that I returned from my poor student days in a faraway land and settled to the typical Malaysian lifestyle of eating one meal a day, all day!
Can never forget my first multi-week outstation assignment. Anyone been to Kuala Perlis for seafood in the mid-Eighties? Three of us could eat a huge helping of everything from crabs, sotong, fish and prawns and it only cost us RM15 and our waistline.
After one month, I gained 10 pounds. “Aiyoh!” is the word. This started my great journey of food but where do I draw the line?
My fastest half marathon was my first. I finished the second one at a slower pace and that was it. The end of my athletic career!
In the late Eighties, I had a regular routine of running at the Lake Gardens but that stopped after I got married. No, I am NOT blaming my wife. She will tell you that it is all the lunches and dinners with clients and associates, though my wife is a fantastic cook.
Eventually the 40-pound problem came on and I wondered, like the frog in the boiling pot, “How did I ever get to this point?” Simple my friend, self-control!
Self-control is rejecting wrong desires and doing what is right. When I enter the buffet line a third time, am I exercising self-control? What is the right thing to do? Move to the dessert? After two helpings I should think it is enough.
Self-control could have kept me out of trouble. We all know this from day one but do we follow this known remedy to our weight problems? It is all a matter of the moment by moment decisions that we take.
When in the supermarket, do we plan what to buy or are we shopping with a hungry stomach?
Life is full of wants and desires. It is not just about food. We face this with our finances, at home, at work or school and anywhere we place some amount of importance.
We are back to the question of what is really needed. Do I really need that new computer? Should I spend more time with my tennis friends or take the family out for a drive? Is using Facebook important enough for business that I need to access it during office hours?
Do I cheat on the exam so that I get the results my parents want and get the promised reward? What is important? What is the real need? I believe much of the battle would be won if we sincerely establish the real need.
Self-control starts with us looking at a longer-term goal. Short-term orientation only gets us into trouble. Impulse purchases have the potential of getting us into trouble with our budgets. A quick sugar fix, repeated many times over, affects our health.
The best way to overcome self-indulgence (which is the opposite of self-control) is to have an accountability partner. If we have great humility, then our spouses are the best. Otherwise, a close friend of the same gender.
If you are bold, paste your progress in a public place (on your office or virtual social media wall). And, disassociate yourself from those that would cause you to fall.
Sometimes, all it takes is building new habits that are positive to replace the bad ones. You need a process built on good habits to meet a long-term need.
So what am I doing with my eating habits? I am going to be focused on building a body that will stay healthy and be productive for many years ahead.
When I am hungry, I will snack on fruits and vegetables. I will combine this with a good dose of exercise. And, my wife is going to get my weekly weight and feasting reports. I may even paste my weekly weight chart on my Facebook page.