Sunday, July 13, 2014

Too good to be true?????

Back in the 1990’s, when I was working/teaching downstate and had the summers off, I purchased a very small little mobile home in northern Michigan. Those were good days and although I was quite overweight (probably 250-300 pounds), I was healthy, loving life, and quite happy. It was during that time when I first was introduced to gardening; a hobby that I am so thrilled to be able to do again.  My little yard was full of perennials and annuals and I was surrounded by beautiful blooms all summer long.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know much about gardening then and I made several gardening mistakes, one of which is still haunting me to this day, even though I no longer life at that address. Let me explain….

While visiting some friends at home (downstate at that time), the subject of gardening came up when I was admiring their beautiful plants. Those of you that garden know that most people with perennials are quite eager to share them with others because the plants need to be divided every couple of years in order to keep looking their best. My friend offered me several cuttings. Of course I was thrilled to take some new plants and we got to work digging and separating them.  At that point, her husband, came out in the yard and pointed out some rather pretty looking groundcover that was literally covering the back corner of the yard. He told me that it  was easy to care for, and began to dig some up for me. Again, I said, sure…put it in the bucket…and I’ll use it up north in one of the new beds I was working on.  I couldn’t wait to get back up north the next day and put my plants in their new home.  And so began the saga that continues to this day…..WEEDING!!!!

It turns out that this so-called beautiful groundcover is called “Creeping Charlie” and is actually an invasive weed that is very difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate. It grows with underground runners and can thrive just about anywhere.  Sigh…..By the end of that first summer it had taken over my flower bed. By the next summer it had spread into the lawn and within about two years, it was everywhere. It is now all over that yard.  Even though I no longer live in that particular house, I still own the property, and a few years ago when I took up gardening in my current home, I dug up plants from the other yard to transplant….and yup, you’ve got it….I managed to get Creeping Charlie because it was entwined with the others or the underground runners were tangled in the roots. And so, here it is, about 20 years after my initial “gift” and I’m STILL dealing with it on a weekly basis.  Although it is a somewhat pretty looking plant, it just chokes out everything else, so I have to get rid of it, but in 20 years, I’ve not been able to completely eradicate it.

I was thinking about this situation yesterday morning when I was weeding the beds and like just about most day-to-day tasks, conversations, and events, I can somehow connect it my journey. At first, I kind of chucked and said out loud, “If it appears to be too good to be true; most of the time it is.” This plant was probably not causing an issue or my friend when he shared it to me. He and his wife had just moved into their home and the plant was growing all over a corner of the yard that was under some trees. He hadn’t had the experience yet of trying to control it. Therefore, he was just sharing what he thought was a good thing.  For me….not knowing any better, I was thrilled to have an entire bucket of the so-called “ground cover” for free because perennials can be very expensive. Like Brian, I didn’t know any better; it was a “good thing.” Then. But I do now…..and I continue to pay the price of it.  Sigh…..

Over the course of my teen/adult years, I’ve encountered many things (potential boyfriends, job offers, items for sale, get rich schemes, etc.) that “appeared to be good….some of which I was sure were an answer to prayer…..but later turned out to be “too good to be true.” This is especially true with weight loss.  Likely, you’ve been there….or perhaps are there now……or considering going there out of desperation.

 I’ve battled with weight my whole life and like many of you, have tried some of the quick fix options to get thinner.  Twice, I was somewhat successful, losing 80+ pounds in the 80’s on a high-protein diet very popular called “Stillman’s” back then (probably something like Adkins these days) where I could eat all the meat, cheese, eggs, butter, etc…that I wanted but no bread, fruit, grains. I don’t even recall eating many vegetables. I called it the hotdog diet because I would eat a pack of hotdogs at a time without buns. I lost weight…quickly….but ended up quite sick and developed ulcerative colitis as a result. I used to carry a roll of toilet paper in the car and had digestive issues for a year….BUT…. I was losing weight so endured the stomach issues.  I was only in my early 20’s at that time so I didn’t even think about what that type of diet was doing to my cholesterol or the serious health issues I would later develop. Yikes!  And…you guessed it… I never learned self-control because I could eat all I wanted of the approved  high fat, unhealthy foods, and as soon as I went off the plan, I gained the weight back…and then some! I’m not sure how the diet even worked because I must have been consuming an awful lot of calories.

Again in the 90’s, I did the “too good to be true” Low-Fat plan. I could eat all I wanted as long as the foods I chose were “fat-free.”  Again, I lost a lot of weight, but didn’t learn discipline. I would eat an entire box of Snackwell’s cookies at a time, not to mention my addiction to diet coke and a box of sour-dough hard pretzels that I consumed each day. I even ordered those pretzels by the case because I couldn’t find my favorite brand in any stores in the Detroit area.  Again…an unbalanced, unhealthy eating plan…and you guessed it…I gained it all back….and then some! 

In between were several other “quick-fix” things that filled the media: diet pills that were later discovered to cause serious heart damage were prescribed by my doctor for about two months before I told him I wasn’t going to take them.  I tried some sort of supplements from the health food store for a month or so one time until I read that they raised blood pressure and caused heart attacks. Then there was the prescription that the doctor gave me that had the warning label that said, “Will cause anal seepage.” Yikes! Good thing I read that before I took them. I’d rather be fat than have “anal seepage!”  The TV and magazines were….and continue to be…. full of quick-fix solutions to the dreaded problem of obesity. I saw an infomercial a couple of weeks ago for a T-shirt type shapewear thing that is supposed to “burn fat.”  WHAT????????  Although each and every so called “quick-weight loss miracle” could work for some……most of them are “too good to be true” and will likely end up causing more problems….maybe very serious problems….in the long run. At first, it sounds like an answer to prayer and appears to be a very good thing…..just like the dreaded “Creeping Charlie” but later it turns out to be a very bad decision. 

Losing weight….changing one’s life is not easy. For me…the only thing that has…and will continue to work… is to make a complete life change. That means that I have had to ‘re-think” my mind-set and it is why I don’t refer to my current way of life as a ‘diet.” People go on and off diets all the time. I’m eating the same things now as I was back in 2011 when I started this journey, but just a larger quantity and a bigger variety.  I no longer limit my intake of fruit and yogurt, but I still won’t eat a candy bar or potato chips. I’ve said it many times before…. My advice is not to start a plan or do something today that you are not willing to do for the rest of your life.  If you choose an eating plan that you can stay on forever, you will be successful. If you give up eating candy now and can go forever without eating chocolate…if you want to stay on diet pills for the rest of your life….then you are on the right plan, but trust me…. “If it sounds too good to be true….if it promises that you will lose 20 pounds a month….it likely is TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!”  Losing weight is hard work….there is no quick-fix. Even those that choose the surgery route will tell you that they have had to completely change their life.  Find YOUR plan….a plan that works for you…a plan that you will be able to live with forever…..and you will succeed.

I will likely be plagued with the task of pulling “Creeping Charlie” from my yard (it is now spread to many areas of the yard…not sure HOW, but it has) but that pesky little invader will now be a reminder to me of this journey, and each time I pull up a runner or a plant, I will remember that my journey….my eating plan…my current lifestyle….is something that will require my attention FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. If I let it go…if I don’t continually address it….my old habits will take over my life and choke out the new joy, new attitude, new health, new life….NEW THERESA….that makes up the garden called life.

Have a great day today!