Posted by: cmittermeier | June 10, 2014

Why not take a year of taking care of you?

I recently picked up a Joe-job, a basic minimum wage job to earn a bit of cash, it has been an amazing source of insight into my health journey.  With this being the end of the school year, I’m in yearly review mode to boot.  Putting those things together has me wondering if I should push harder to not just give lip service to the idea of putting the oxygen mask on me first.

Seeing what people buy for groceries every week has much more significance than one might realize at first glance.  With my shifts being fairly regular I’m getting long term views, not just snapshots.  Please bear in mind, this is not fully scientific.  I’m not handing out surveys, tracking their consumption, nor am I making notes.  This is much more subjective, but even with minimal awareness its easy to see various patterns and I do talk with as many customers as I can, so I get some insight as to what happens to the food once it leaves.

My families grocery habits were not as unique as I would have expected.  I’ll review for you some of the types I see regularly.
Group A – There are a number of families that buy healthy food mainly, but add in treat foods like chips, cookies, and pop.

Group B1 – There are a few that are all healthy including a fair amount of organic.

Group B2 – There are a few that are non-organic healthy, but larger amounts of it.  Both of these groups will very rarely have a single treat item and its almost always a fancier health conscious version – say skinny sticks, terra chips, or other specialty item.  For my purposes I’ll group those two groups together, and you’ll see why in a moment.

Group C – There are those who buy only prepared food, but in exact portions for a week.

Group D – The other group of prepared food lovers is mixed with everything else – some fresh, some treats.

Group E – The event shoppers who are obviously buying for a special event.  Be it kids buying the fixings for s’mores, adults loading up for a huge gathering, or young adults grabbing picnic fixings.  Obviously group E people belong to one of the other groups for regular shopping.

Most of you will guess that group B1, B2 are likely the fittest, and you’d be right.  The main difference is the family stages.  I’d say 95% of group B1 has young kids, and group B2 talks a lot about the teens eating them out of house and home.  I’ve asked a number of the moms in this group, “do you work out in the gym or at home?”.  The responses have given me a great source of hope.  I can’t remember if I wrote about it, but I spent lent trying to find positive coping strategies, things for me to try instead of eating my stress away.  I generally find that exercise is great when not stressed, but when stressed getting it in adds more stress.  It becomes a burden, not a release.  The women I asked where they work out almost always added something to their response.  “Its how I work out my frustrations with the kids”, “Its my sanity break”, “Its my time”, “Its what keeps me going”.  They didn’t add it as a justification, but as if sharing a great find.  Hearing that it really does work for them gives me hope that what I’m aiming for really does exist outside of internet blogs.  What seems to be missing between them and me – perseverance.  I don’t give it a full chance.

Group C is generally quite slim, but based on their proportions they are single.  The prepared food they buy is also the healthier choices, and quite honestly though they will have a few treat foods the proportions are generally very low.

Group D and Group A are often the most overweight groups.  The kids may be slim, but not the adults.  Group A you can see that they are trying for a healthier lifestyle, but just can’t kick the treats to the curb.  When treats are on sale, they’ll load up on them and you’ll see a spike but there is never a week without some treats.  The majority of the regular treats look like kid treats – bear paws, lunch treats.  The sale treats that get loaded up are the adult ones, spicy chips or adult flavours (honey mustard is not a chip a 5 year old normally gravitates to!).  Its easy to see that they are training their kids to expect daily treats (the lunch stuff), and satisfying their adult unhealthy treats too often.  When this group buys healthier adult treats it is often the higher fat varieties.  While the B groups would buy hummus and vegetables (occasionally you will see whole wheat pitas), these groups buy bags of avocados and tortilla chips, fancy cheeses and crackers.

Group A is where I fit in, but five years ago we were group D.  As with all things, there is a range in each group.  As those in group A move towards group B, they are leaner.  Similarly, as those in group D move towards either A or C, they become slimmer as well.  I chose those words carefully – the move toward group A seems to come with greater muscle definition, those in group C may be slim but not lean.  Yes, group A is less overweight than D, but not appreciably till you get close to the line with group B.

The attitudes of those in the B groups is inspiring.  They take care of people, these folks are always talking about their kids, husbands, and parents, and its the kind of talk I like to hear.  They don’t moan about them, or overly praise them – its not fake.  They acknowledge the areas their kids need to work on, but often pair it with a reflection on a recent stepping stone that has brought them to that place.  They also accept praise of their kids well, but temper it with another area that still needs work.  Some examples, “Yes, they are great packers, they’ve been doing it for years, if only that would transfer to their rooms.”, “Its gonna be a big bill, they’re complaining there’s no food in the house again, mind you, now they’re looking for it now, and less picky.  Just you wait till he’s a teen, they’ll eat anything now!”

When I ponder the women in group B, they take care of themselves.  They eat right, they exercise, most of them wear some religious jewelery, and many of them read as well.  Yes, I compliment them on their crosses, their head scarfs, or other religious attire and I’ll often end with God Bless.  It always gets a smile. They admit its work to keep it balanced and speak openly on how taking care of themselves is that balance mechanism – not the by-product, but the mechanism.  In taking care of themselves, they can take care of others.

They are also more traditional, with set ideas on training their children and high expectations.  We’re now hiring grocery clerks and a fair majority have asked about the application procedure for their sons.  Few of them with young children come in with iPads and portable play devices, in contrast to those in group D.  Their children also do not come to the cash trying for treats.  Those in group A will often ask for a gum, but those in group D are the ones that ask for twist pops, chocolate bars, and gummy snacks.

So, now that this school year is wrapping up, the question I’m asking myself is why not take this next year taking care of myself.  If group B is any indication, I’ll be better able to take care of everything else.

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