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by Richard L. Provencher  
5/05/2008 / Health

Listen to the sounds of a satisfying supper. Slurping soup, gobbling fried chicken, absorbing the aroma of food land ecstasy. Lips moist with satisfaction, tummies accepting this feast of pleasure.

Another night of friendship gathered in our apartment; my wife and I, hostess and host for our bi-monthly sharing of a meal. It's ritualistic, satisfying and enjoyable, eating with our precious company, as fortunate citizens in Canada.

What a great country where rushing to the table is a wonderful pastime.

And each of us seeking a gold medal, as Olympians in one of three categories: Very amply fit, Chubby to love, and Look at me Momma. Or perish the words; the end results, a fat person of accomplishment.

I believe our society has become a collection of observers who finally realize weight gain is progressing beyond normal health standards. And whose fault is it? Easy enough to point wagging fingers at offending habits; yet when did it all begin? After all, wasn't I leaner and meaner during the 1950's and 1960's?

I vividly remember my youth did without a variety of choices available today. For instance, eating hot dogs meant Daschund-shaped meat surrounded by a slice of bread, no buns.

And not one of my neighbors could afford the luxury of. 'fixings' comprised of ketchup or mustard that is IF you happened to have it on the payday menu. Relish? What was that? Something only meant for rich folks.

My early years of body growth were captured by quick meals eaten between cap gun shootouts with the bad guys waiting at nearby Lariviere Hill. And the constant outdoor activity kept my young legs springy, and body taut, flat tummy allowing an active boy to run, jump and chase friends through imaginary Gorilla infested trails around the neighborhood.

We loved to mimic Tarzan and others.

But the seasons of time swept by like a flight of Canada geese. It seemed my physical outline was destined to grow bolder, especially with eating choices teasing me as I ran wild in supermarket corridors.

My eyeballs pleasured in the many cheeses adorning whole segments of space, breakfast cereals no longer lumpy porridge. Now available to me were many distinctive flavors of crunchy sugar-dipped breakfast treats. Oh, what did you do to me Count Chocola?

I became bewildered with an array of names my growing children easily sang out during our frequent shopping sprees. Even items such as marshmallows usually only part of a camping expedition were elevated to the status of snacks anytime my lips craved an energy fix.

Nothing like those lumpy treats over a barbecue spit in the backyard. And the scent of burnt sugar.

New activities in my life became part of the super organized lifestyle my children were part of. I watched while they played, munched while they teased me with their activity.
Lost to me were my own activation days of scrub baseball where even the least talented child was given a chance to hit the ball then scramble to the safety of first base.

From the bleachers I now watched my children amid the sound of chips, popcorn, candy bars, belches from hastily swallowed pop and candy of all descriptions roared as an ocean current from my lips to tumbles into my tummy.

But, I was not alone, as other sitting parents gathered together as a family of pigeons sharing our smorgasbord of eats. The remains of our feasting sprinkled as salt and pepper flakes, under the audience of our feet. I was happily plopped into the middle of this glorious consumption, while real pigeons scampered happily below us.

Yes I was a guilty party in my haste to interact with 'the munchies,' a new and acceptable household word. Even at home, a bottle of beer, plate of chips combined with an afternoon of TV football, wrestling or World Hockey.

They were the trademarks of a Saturday afternoon of enjoyment. In fact it became the fashion to provide a variety of feasts to invited guests or any famished person who happened to drop in.

Often they came over because their own kids had already emptied the fridge.

Slowly but surely, over the passage of many years, my once flat tummy grew outward. It used to be my youthful desire to grow tall, quickly. Now I had to deal with this growth of horizontal. I chased away my new shape with a smattering of tales; such as, 'My chest has fallen." Strangely enough, it was almost fashionable for men to rub protruding bellies, and belch a good one.

But a question used to nag me in moments of gluttony guilt.

Sometimes nagging questions leaped from my tongue. "Why is it the profound duty of most adult men to finish off any leftovers on plates? Or the remnants of chip pieces in the bottom of soon to be discarded crinkling bags?"

Eventually, but not without protestation, I finally accepted advice from my favorite doctor. And joined an army of wellness addicts, determined to change. Yes, I knew I could. And I would.

It soon became the rage for everyone in my age range to lose weight, finally. Jogging, swimming and running seemed to preoccupy our minds in a frenzy of shedding unwanted pounds. Yet during the moves from one diet fad to another pounds lost crept back into welcoming flesh.

I know hundreds of unwanted wrap-around-the-waste pouches were erased from my once lean frame then regained over a short period. What to do? Was I to simply be a clone to some bulging wrestler?

Yet, how could I resist dining on burgers, pizzas, chicken, fish & chips? Hurry-Up at the fast food lineups became the password of our time. Anyone with a few dollars in their pocket easily took the bait rushing off to savor varied cuisines.

Then off to visit friends where further calories awaited along with a cup of coffee. Where was my resistance to such gaining-weight delights?

Eating is fun. And I certainly enjoyed the journey of my consumptions. But something drastic had to take place in order to reduce dangerous levels within my blood pressure readings. This situation now required drastic measures and a challenge I am determined to win.

"Or else," as my doctor admonished. I realize it was the best kick-in-the-pants diet advice I ever received. I did not have the courage to ask her definition of the phrase, "Or else."

A friend wisely advised, "Keep your mouth closed during opportunities of snacking." Now I do so, especially when my wife and I are within arm's reach of munchies, treats, or other delectable YUMMIES. Oh gosh, they always congregate to my side of the table.

Timing is everything. Attitude is a definite asset. And you know something? I've lost eight pounds already!

* * *

Richard L. Provencher 2005

Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.

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