Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

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Picking up change

I believe it’s been five years since I last wrote about my weight loss progress, mainly because there wasn’t any progress to report. Things have gone better over the past two years and I have now lost 27 pounds (12 kg). That’s enough to get my pant size down to 36 from 40 and move me from the obese to the overweight category. I need to lose another 25 pounds to get to where I should be, which should bring me down to a 32 inch waist.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Some years ago I was inspired to believe weight loss was possible by reading Calvin Nowell’s book, Start Somewhere: Losing What’s Weighing You Down From the Inside Out. In the book, he describes an incident where he saw several loose coins on the sidewalk and bent down to pick them up. As he did so, the thought came to him that he was “picking up change” and that was what he needed to do to make his weight loss effort work. Long term weight loss will not happen by taking some miracle pill or going on some miracle diet plan. It is a matter of “picking up change,” continuing to make small changes to your lifestyle that will become habits and help lose and keep off excess weight.

Corny as it sounds, “picking up change” is just what I needed to do. The changes didn’t come all at once; but every once in a while I would come to a plateau where I wasn’t losing weight anymore and I would find another change to make.

Here is a list of the changes that I have made, in the order that I made them:

1. I bought a mini trampoline, or rebounder, to use when I don’t go out for a walk.

2. I downloaded a pedometer app on my phone to track the steps I made in a day, aiming for 10,000 or more at least four days a week.

3. I cut out all between meal snacks and quit eating dessert at supper time.

4. I quit eating desserts altogether, except for meals with company.

5. I started wearing custom orthotics all the time. I had tried the cheap Dr. Scholl orthitics and for a time all was well. Then my knees started bothering me and I had to curtail my walking time. I went back to the custom orthotics and it took some months for the pain in my knees to go away. Lesson learned.

6. I started using maple syrup to sweeten my coffee. It has a lower glycemic index than sugar.

7. I stopped drinking pop. The only carbonated beverages I drink now are unsweetened Perrier water with a hint of citrus flavour.

8. I started drinking two glasses of water with every meal.

There it is, nothing miraculous, just slow and steady progress. Mostly it came down to harnessing my natural stubbornness for the cause of my health. I have two suits hanging in my closet. One is now too big and baggy to wear anymore. The other I haven’t worn for twenty years because I was too big and baggy to fit into it. I may just wear it to church tomorrow.

Good-bye Coke Zero, hello Dr Pepper.

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I read today in the online version of Le Point, a French newsmagazine, that yet another study has established a link between diet pop and increased belly fat along with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Apparently, pop with real sugar is better for your health.

I think I have discovered why I like Dr Pepper. They aren’t saying what 23 flavours are used to create its unique taste, but the consensus seems to be that amaretto is number one. Amaretto is derived from apricot pits, among other things, and has a taste somewhat like almond, yet different. My absolute favourite form of coffee is cappuccino with a shot of amaretto syrup, so I’m getting something akin to that in Dr Pepper.

Also in Le Point, I read that Robert Marchand just rode his bicycle around a velodrome for an hour, travelling a total of 22.5 km. Monsieur Marchand is 105 years old. When he was 81 he biked from Paris to Moscow.

I did 15 minutes on my rebounder today. I hope that counts for something.

Squirrel cage economy

Twenty-five years ago I took a course taught by a man who had grown up in India and who had travelled the world. He talked of seeing how coffee, tea and sugar were grown by dirt poor peasant farmers. He described the steps in getting these products to the multinational companies that then processed them for world markets. Then he said: “Enjoy your coffee, but remember all the people who have worked so hard and earned so very little so that you could have it.”

This morning I had coffee with Carole Thomas, a lady from our area who owns a farm in Costa Rica and spends over half the year there. She grows black pepper and cacao and buys coffee from a neighbouring farmer and sells these products here in Canada, largely through the Saskatoon Farmers Market.

Through talking to Carole, and also from other sources, I am beginning to think that fair trade coffee may not be quite what it purports to be. For one thing, it costs a subsistence farmer an enormous amount of money to join the fair trade program and become certified. And then, they may not necessarily get any more for their coffee than if they sold it to the private merchants, though the fair trade association may offer a guaranteed price. One other concern that comes up is that the fair trade program doesn’t necessarily buy all of a framer’s production and pays the same, no matter what the quality of the coffee. Therefore a farmer may tend to sell his best coffee to a private merchant for a premium price and sell the poorer quality beans to the fair trade association for their guaranteed price.

That doesn’t really sound like it will ever help the poor farmers to rise above subsistence level farming. I was reminded once again of something Dorothy Sayers wrote during the Second World War:

“It may well seem to you – as it does to some of my acquaintances – that I have a sort of obsession about this business of the right attitude to work. But I do insist upon it, because it seems to me that what becomes of civilization after this war is going to depend enormously on our being able to effect this revolution in our ideas about work. Unless we do change our whole way of thought about work, I do not think we shall ever escape from the appalling squirrel cage of economic confusion in which we have been madly turning for the last three centuries or so, the cage in which we landed ourselves by acquiescing in a social system based upon Envy and Avarice.

“A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand.”

Dorothy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church

I think we’re further than ever from escaping from the squirrel cage, principally because envy and avarice are still the driving force of the world economy. What would it do to the world economy if individuals would renounce envy and avarice, buy products that are the fruit of honest labour, rather than flashy mass produced items made of dubious ingredients in far away lands by almost slave labour?

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