A little while ago, I spoke with America’s Dietitian, Kathryn Parker, RD, LD, about why people (uh, like Bev) sometimes have trouble getting control over food plans and how we distinguish between "enough" and "too much of a good thing." She stunned me with the simplified science for which she is well known. She hurled a famous Parker Lightning Bolt:
“With food, the difference between what you NEED and what you WANT is what you’re wearing.”
Don’t tell Kathryn, but in the back of my closet, I keep a small, secret stash of favorite clothes that haven’t fit forever. They are from a time when I understood that food was fun, but mostly it was fuel for training. I ate what my athlete’s body needed.
The clothes in the front of my closet, the ones I wear now, are chosen to cover mounds of too much “want.” When I stopped running and fell off the wagon, I landed in a pile of caloric goo that softened the landing and my midriff at the same time.
Losing your grip on the basic truths of food is a slippery slope, pal. Once I began that slide, no amount of clawing and clutching could stop it. I live in the South, where mayonnaise appears to transform any food into a culinary candidate for the cover of Gourmet magazine, where barbecue is a sacred art form, and where life is so fast paced that it’s acceptable to grocery shop at a gas station on your way to or from something (anything) more interesting than cooking.
I prayed for a bottom. Pleasepleasepleasepleasehelpmestop!!! I had nightmares about firefighters having to chain-saw through the wall of our den to remove me with the Jaws of Life and a crane while a documentary team shot video of Richard Simmons weeping and holding my hand and assuring me that we would get through this together.
But no. Hitting the bottom was far less dramatic.
I quietly bounced off it in October in Central Park as I stood and watched the New York Road Runners build their finish line for the 2009 New York City Marathon—when I remembered that I am a marathon runner and this is my marathon.
If what I’m wearing matches my NEED, then to get there, I’ll wear running clothes.
Thanks, Kathryn. We don’t call you America’s Dietitian for nothing.