Originally published Sept. 17, 2005, in Our Town for the Tracy Press.
It seems that every week I write about some amazing new discovery on my journey toward a healthier me.Sometimes I worry that I sound like a broken record. I hope that’s not the case. The truth is that every day brings a revelation.Take last weekend, for example.
My husband and I decided to celebrate our fifth anniversary with a trip to Monterey. It was our first getaway since our honeymoon. I was excited about the trip because I knew I could be so much more active than I’ve ever been during our marriage. After all, I’m thinner and healthier than I’ve been in that time.We booked a hotel room at one end of Cannery Row and didn’t use our car again for the next three days. We traipsed up and down Cannery Row, walked along Fisherman’s Wharf and had a great time shopping downtown.Despite logging miles on foot each day, my knees and feet never gave me any trouble. By the second day, my thighs were a little sore from all the stairs, but I didn’t let it stop me.In fact, I groaned the one time my husband insisted that we take an elevator because he was tired of bounding up and down the same set of stairs so I could compare prices at different shops.It seemed I had limitless energy. We spent close to five hours at the aquarium, and I never felt the need to stop or sit down even once.But beyond my level of energy, I had another, even more profound realization.
Food not the first thoughtMy old life had practically revolved around my next meal. Whenever I would travel somewhere, I’d plot my route by the eateries along the way. Driving through Los Banos was always a treat because it meant we could visit Woolgrowers, the best Basque restaurant I’ve ever tried. Meeting people in Livermore was great because we could have lunch at Strizzi’s on First Street. We’d search for reasons to shop at the Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton just for an excuse to eat at Todai, the mall’s Japanese buffet.Once, I even traveled all the way to South Lake Tahoe with a cousin just to eat ribs at Hoss Hoggs.But food played a very small role for me in Monterey — and I still had the time of my life. I didn’t feel compelled to eat saltwater taffy just because we were in a coastal town. I didn’t feel obligated to eat at every restaurant that looked appealing or offered a “buy one, get one” coupon. The idea of where or what to eat didn’t cross my mind until my tummy started rumbling. And even when we did get hungry, we just shut our eyes and pointed in the general direction of a restaurant to try.We chose restaurants based on the ambiance and what was offered on the menu. I never once felt deprived because I couldn’t order everything that looked good. I took my time perusing the menu and picked dishes that sounded flavorful. Though I could eat only a few bites at each meal, I wasn’t upset or disappointed. I took my time eating, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying my husband’s company.
FreedomFood no longer held the power over me that it once did. For the first time in my memory, my life didn’t revolve around food. Food has become to me what it’s always been intended — necessary to survival.Not only did I have an amazing vacation with my husband in a romantic place by the ocean. I learned something about myself — both the person I used to be and the person I’ve become since having gastric-bypass surgery in February.