Walk Yourself Fit

Other bloggers have written that walking the Wainwright enables you to walk yourself fit, as long as you are already in the habit of eating right. I spent almost the first twenty years of my life drinking two or more glasses of Coca-Cola a day, so you should know that eating nutritiously, like playing team sports, is not my specialty. Nonetheless, in preparation for the Wainwright, for the next decade of my life, it’s about time to start eating right.

After years of fantasizing about joining a CSA (community supported agriculture), we’re finally going to do it, but I am petrified about receiving a weekly vegetable box. The whole point of Community Supported Agriculture is to eat in season and to pay small farms, in advance, for their produce. This means that some weeks you can expect a box that consists only of a few pounds of rainbow chard and radishes. What the hell are we going to do with all of the vegetables when they arrive?

In our home, we cook for survival, not pleasure. I enjoy eating good food, and watching Chef Lidia on PBS, but I come from a proud long line of women who are Masters in the Art of Take Out and even though I have a pretty egalitarian marriage, I find the kitchen to be a rather oppressive space. Then there’s the matter that I am an incredibly picky eater and I prefer my vegetables raw to cooked and we’re going to have to find unique ways to eat all of these veggies raw. Have I mentioned that my husband, who does about 98% of the food preparation in my house, is a saint?

I worry that idealism is not enough of a motivator to eating more nutritiously. It didn’t occur to me that Coca-Cola was a sometimes food until I went to college and noticed that the majority of my new friends and classmates drank water with their dinner. Now I knew that I was the odd one who was drinking two to three cans of Coke per day, but being an outsider was not enough to change my ways. It was my American impoverishment while living in England that curtailed my Coca-Cola addition. Who could afford to drink Coke every day when it was $4 a can (after the exchange rate)?

My problem is that I am very well read on the subject of food politics. I’ve seen Food Ink and King Corn and watched their horrific depictions of cancerous cows burdened with tumors from B12 corn consumption. Ethically and intellectually I agree with the claims these films make about the global industrialized food system, yet I still eat Wendy’s hamburgers. Not all the time, but often enough to know that a true conversion experience has not taken place (although I wish it were different).

I’ve participated in community gardening and have eaten delicious meals comprised of the local harvests of our friends, but I cannot seem to stick to a  Michael Pollan mostly plants, nothing that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food, approach. The only thing that may taste good about vegetarianism is the taste of moral superiority in your mouth.

I recently realized that I was eternally doomed to be a disastrous eater when an elderly nun at a nutritional workshop chastised the use of instant oatmeal: You are sinning on three minutes a pop in the microwave.

I don’t even like oatmeal, but for two years I forced myself to eat it every morning for breakfast because  Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver convinced me in their food memoirs that Quaker Oats was one of the few whole foods I could ethically buy in a package at the supermarket. Moreover as we were in grad student poverty and saving for a wedding, I realized the fiscal advantages to buying one container of Quaker Oats each month, rather than two or three boxes of cereal per week.

That being said, each spoonful of instant oatmeal was bland, especially during the month when I tried to adopt my own 100 mile diet like the folks in Plenty, and refused to eat bananas. There is an interesting trend in these food memoirs, particularly Kingsolver’s and Smith/Mackinon’s, where by the end of the experiment the authors’ sanity seem to unravel, tacitly discouraging the reader from taking their advice to closely (SPOILER ALERT: I stopped my 100 mile diet right about the part where Mackinon uses a credit card to separate the mouse droppings from his wheat).

Again, I understand that instant oatmeal, by the very nature of being instant, is void of any of the nutritional value of real oatmeal. I know that it makes sense on all levels to choose slow cooking oatmeal in the morning over instant oatmeal or half a sleeve of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies, but I can’t seem to actually make consistently good choices.

Therefore I am hoping that at least, in the short term, the austerity measures required to finance our trip abroad will make help make healthy eating a bit more of a priority.

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About 30 Ways of Walking

Gina Liotta's writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in The New York Quarterly, Slate, The Paterson Literary Review, LIPS, and The Healing Muse, among others. She lives, writes and teaches in New York.
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7 Responses to Walk Yourself Fit

  1. polamiro says:

    This is such a beautifully sublime blog….and walking is one of my favorite activities. It is akin to meditation. I will continue reading more of your articles. Beautiful, simply beautiful! Also, I just read that you ripped The Happiness Project into pieces, and I laughed out loud. I too am a bibliophile, and I take great care of my books. But I went berserk on Marley and Me. You see, I wasn’t ready for the dog to die, and just having acquired a dog, I just started crying and crying. And then I got angry, so after ripping it up, I set fire to it, because that’s how angry I was at the book. Can’t someone just warn you on the back cover? Anyway, the fire got a bit out of control, and the firemen arrived at 23rd Street/6th Avenue, where I used to live. Needless to say, it was embarrassing.

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words. I am glad that someone can relate to my destruction of the Happiness Project. I visited your blog and am impressed with your move to Puerto Rico, it is indeed a time of existential crisis. Thanks for following!

  3. pictfamily says:

    Despite my best intentions, I am certainly not an especially healthy eater, but I am a fan of porridge, and I can say with conviction that it is well worth investing that little bit of extra time and effort to make the real thing, rather than the instant. You can add a little bit of cinnamon to cheer it up, and best of all is when you have it topped with 0% greek yoghurt, chopped banana and maple syrup 8o)

  4. We’ve enjoyed getting new veggies in our CSA box each week…..we are learning how to prepare them…lots of recipes here on the internet!

  5. Pingback: Versatile Blogger: Paying it Forward | 30 Ways of Walking

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