I was in New York recently, land of the great delicatessens. I don’t mean the restaurants they call delis here.
I mean the kind of deli my dad used to stop at on his way home from an early Sunday morning golf game. He’d come home armed with bagels, lox and a pint carton of whipped cream cheese. He’d pick up a big kosher salami as well. Then he’d whip up a batch of salami and eggs. He’d smear butter on the cut bagels and broil them, then load them up with cream cheese and lox (that’s smoked salmon for the uninitiated).
I was feeling nostalgic for one of those breakfasts, and there I was, just around the corner from the Carnegie Deli, so I stopped in and ordered up a plate of salami and eggs. With a toasted bagel. And then I made the first of two major New York observations. I no longer craved that particular dish of my childhood. It smelled just like the salami and eggs I remember, but now that smell was swathed in the odor of fried beef fat, and it no longer elicited the desired response. I had a decidedly unappetizing feeling in my stomach. I ate the bagel and left. From then on I went for egg-white veggie omelets for breakfast, sushi, stir-fry and fresh vegetables for the other meals. My stomach felt much better.
Thus, New York Observation No. 1: Dietary habits change. It’s been years since I scarfed down that particular comfort food of my childhood. In that time (30 years at least) I gradually stopped adding salt to my food. I learned to eat low-fat meats like chicken, fish and lean beef. The fatty, salty salami that I once loved now makes me sick to my stomach!
So many of us complain that we cannot lose the extra weight we’re carrying because we just can’t give up chocolate, or beer, or pastries, but I think we can. In my case, I gave up the salami first because, as a college student, I just flat out couldn’t afford the stuff. Then, as a young bride, I lived in Berkeley, and even back then it was a health-conscious kind of place – whole-grains-and-tofu kind of place.
Learning to eat healthy is just learning a new habit. It may be hard at first, but after a while it’s just the way you do things, and the old, bad habits are gone.
And while I’m on the losing weight and being healthy subject, I offer New York Observation No. 2: There are not as many fat people on the streets of New York as there are on the streets of Spokane. And take my word for it; the streets of New York are crammed with people. Why is that?
Well, unless you’re Donald Trump and take taxis (limos?) everywhere, you walk. And walk. Driving a car in Manhattan is left to the certifiably insane and taxi drivers. The rest of us take the subway or the bus.
We walk to the subway station, and we walk from the subway station to our final destination. New Yorkers easily get their one-half to one hour of exercise every day just getting to work and home again.
I’ve observed the same phenomenon in Europe. Mass transportation leads to a healthier population because part of using it means walking to where it is.
I know, we don’t have a subway in Spokane, and our streets are easy enough to negotiate in a car if we have one. Parking is plentiful and cheap. (It’s $10 for a half-hour in New York, so don’t complain.)
We can emulate New Yorkers, though. We don’t have to find the closest parking lot to work. Adding a little hike before and after work burns up the calories and makes your heart happy – especially if you’ve given up salami and eggs.
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