Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hurry Up and Wait

During my lunch hour, I went outside and finished planting the four 2' x 4' raised beds we put in over the weekend. Planting them involved hauling, opening and dumping several large bags of compost, peat moss and vermiculite, and then mixing them together and placing them in the raised beds.

In addition to the variety of vegetables I already have planted in the ground, I planted blue potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce and some more radishes. I would have planted carrots, but I think The Kid managed to spill the packet of seeds when we were planting the in-ground garden. The packet of seeds had nothing in it but dirt, and there's a suspicious clump of carrots coming up next to the watermelon.

I'm going to leave them be and see if they'll grow enough to harvest.

All my digging as made me realize something: growing a vegetable garden is a lot like trying to lose weight.

In the beginning, there's a lot of work. You dig, you haul bags of compost and manure, you bend over and plant seeds. After that, there's not a whole lot to do. You get out there and water and weed, but if you keep up with it, those aren't huge tasks. A 10' x 20' plot of dirt isn't that big, and there's not really all that much work to do except some routine maintenance and a lot of waiting.

Dieting is similar, because in the beginning it's all about learning your new eating habits. You learn how to weigh, measure, or classify your food. You learn to count calories, points, or grams of fat, protein and carbohydrates. You learn what foods are okay to eat in quantity, what foods should be limited, and what foods you just have to stay away from altogether. You learn to make new and better choices.

After a few weeks of that, though, you've pretty much learned all you can learn. Then you just have to keep doing it. You keep making good food choices and exercising, and all that's left is to wait.

I can't go out to my garden and shout at my freshly-planted broccoli grow, dammit! (Well, I could, but it wouldn't have any effect, would it?) My broccoli will take about 60 days to grow and mature before it is ready to harvest, and there's not much I can do to speed things up. Certainly, I can create an optimal environment and make sure that my growing green babies have the right amount of sun, water and fertilizer, but beyond that I just have to sit and wait. Broccoli takes as much time as it needs to grow, and that's just the way it is.

So it is with weight loss. Certainly I can eat right, exercise, drink water and get adequate sleep to give my body the optimal environment for weight loss. However, there are limits to that environment. Fasting or going on crazy diets might make me lose weight more quickly, but in the end, it won't help my overall health if I fast all my lean muscle mass away.

Starving myself isn't going to work any better than standing out in the yard and screaming at my broccoli. Although both activities might seem like they would do some good in the short-term, they won't contribute to my long-term success.

Besides, if I stood outside and shouted at my vegetables, I'm sure the neighbor might call the police who would in turn summon the guys with the white coats and needles filled with sedatives.

I can wait.

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