On the way our second ACSDA board meeting over summer break, I get to my car to discover it won’t start. It’s 95 degrees, I’ve been fussing with my car for almost 30 minutes, I’m now in a rush, and I’m getting cranky. This does not seem like the recipe for an inspirational afternoon.
I decide to Uber it to campus and figure out my car situation later. Luckily, I don’t wait for too long; I hop into the front seat, and I’m greeted by a friendly man, who I’ll call Mike.
Mike appears to be in his mid-sixties, and he welcomes me with a grin. He asks me where I’m going, and I tell him I am a student at Metro State, meeting my fellow Nutrition Club board members. We’re meeting to discuss and plan our events for the upcoming school year.
“Oh, nutrition, eh? I just got an earful of that, I’ll tell you,” Mike says.
Having already dealt with a car that won’t start, and feeling sweaty and stressed, I braced myself for a conversation many of my fellow Nutrition majors know all too well: I tried this diet and it didn’t work; so-and-so told me she read this article, but I don’t believe it; so what do YOU think about GMO’s?
I am very thankful I asked Mike what he meant.
“Well,” he said, “My doctor told me I needed to lose 75 pounds. I’m diabetic, my blood pressure was really high, and I was dizzy all the time. My wife just retired, and she wants to travel, so I decided I better listen this time. I joined this weight loss group that meets once a week, and we talk to a nutritionist.”
I asked Mike about some of the things he’s learned in his group that he found most helpful to his journey. He told me about putting back a soda at the convenience store because he now understands how to read a nutrition label, and what calorie and sugar contents mean. He has learned to take his time eating his meals, to savor his food, and enjoy his company. “I talk with my wife so much more at dinner now. I appreciate my meals in a whole new way,” he told me. He also told me about accepting indulgences, and being honest with them. “When I want those potato chips, I’m going to have them! But now I know what’s in them,” he said.
And, told me about exploring how his struggle with food began in the first place. “We didn’t grow up with much. My brother and I, we’d eat a peanut butter sandwich with white bread in the morning, and we wouldn’t eat again until dinner. And, we had school, running around, house chores during the day. I finally called my brother up the other day and I told him, ‘I get it! We were hungry!’ When I was out on my own and finally had some money, I ate whatever I wanted to because I could. My brother said to me, ‘You just figured that out? You must be kinda slow!’”
While Mike just laughed, I felt like I had been given such a gift in hearing his story. Understanding where someone comes from, why they feel and think the way they do, what changes they want to make, and why they are motivated to make those changes is so integral to helping that person in their journey. This is why those of us who are in a field to help others do what we do; to help someone reach the goals they want to achieve.
Mike also said he’s been able to come off his diabetes and blood pressure medication, and doesn’t get the bouts of dizziness he was experiencing. He’s also lost over 30 pounds. He did admit that having a wife who cooks for him helps him stay on track. The support from his wife and weight loss group, and guidance from his nutritionist, has also helped him stay positive and realistic about his progress and goals.
When we pulled up to campus, Mike and I took a moment to thank each other for the time we spent together. It was as if Uber knew I needed a reality check. A car that won’t start is not the end of the world. Sometimes what starts as a wrong turn takes you in the right direction.