Writer reminds readers: don’t judge book by cover

(Jan. 11, 2013) The flow of fate is an isolated path in the eye of the beholder. The window of perception lifts the spirit to a venue of the unknown and only the progression of time will determine the next chapter in one’s life.

I am heading west without prejudice in hopes of a second chance. Billowing clouds obscure the present and allow my mind to dance in a whimsical fashion. The azure stretch of horizon seems endless; maybe this is a premonition of my uncertainty. I am confined, but not helpless; arrival time is scheduled in three hours.

Physicality is not a reflection of the inner soul and should not be a deciding factor in fellowship. Pinpointing actuality is not always feasible, but somewhere in the timeline of my existence, food became my favorite companion. Isolation is not a sign of loneliness; can it possibly be the opposite?

Before I know it, I hear, “This is your captain speaking. We will be arriving at the gate in approximately eight minutes. The weather in Tucson, Ariz., is sunny with an expected high of 98 degrees. Thank you for choosing Southwest Airlines. We know you have many options and we appreciate your busi-

ness. Have a great day.”

The thought of saying “goodbye” to my dearest friend is more than I can bear. Before I hop into a cab, I grab the largest Hershey’s chocolate bar with almonds. “Please, God, forgive me even though I know what I am indulging in is against my goal.” And just as I utter these words, I cannot help but question my intention of asking for forgiveness when I am willfully committing a no-no.

Trust me, I did not dwell on my personal ethics very long. In fact, it only took a few seconds for me to forget about repenting for my transgressions. Creamy, luscious chocolate swirled in my mouth and I am totally oblivious to the rest of the world. The only thing that brings me back to reality is the distinct crunch of toasted almonds. Delectable sweets, comforting carbohydrates and fine wines are about to vanish from my table. Oh well, c’est la vie and welcome the world of diets.

Remnants of indulgence are completely nullified and I am greeted by the gracious, professional staff at Canyon Ranch. This luxurious spa is known for its award-winning service and facilities.

Six weeks flew by and my experience was more than I ever dreamed possible. Pampering was highlighted with a daily message. Aerobic classes eventually occupied five hours of my daily schedule. A size 24 was shredded down to a size 10. I arrived with four suitcases and left with five — skin products, clothes and mementos concluded this healthy getaway.

Unfortunately, my time at Canyon Ranch has come to an end and I must head back to the airport. My driver is polite and compliments me on my weight loss. Whether he really notices it or is “buttering” me up for a larger tip remains to be seen.

The ride in the cab is quiet, but my mind is full of thought. The philosophy of dieting is simple, then why is losing weight so difficult? Desires are cognitive tendencies of our instincts. What makes matters worse, unhealthy fast food is convenient in our chaotic schedules. The icing on the cake: what void is food fulfilling? There is no wrong answer because every response is personal.

I have lost close to 100 pounds and am very proud of myself, but I know the real challenge will be keeping the weight off without my attentive support system. Back to reality also increases the stress level, which is another factor in weight management.

Eating healthfully is very expensive. Collard greens are cost effective and delicious. Serve the emerald, colored leaves in soups, stews and side dishes. Make sure you remove the tough veins before cooking.

If one happens to have fresh beets, cut the tops off and add to the collard greens. Beet tops add flavor, texture, and color. The following recipe is based on one bunch of the South’s favorite greens.

 

Sautéed Collard Greens

1 bunch of washed collard greens, veins removed

3 teaspoons canola oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

splash white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon bacon dripping (optional)

 

1. In a large saucepan, sauté garlic in canola oil over low heat.

2. Add stock, vinegar, and bacon drippings, turn the heat to medium-low and allow to come to a simmer.

3. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and cook until tender.

4. Occasionally stir greens and an additional amount of chicken stock may be necessary (depending on the amount of collard greens).

 

Secret Ingredient: Selfishness. “He who is wrapped up in himself makes a mighty small package” … Unknown.

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