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Adopting Healthier Habits

Beau brings us back to basics with this old adage:

You are what you eat.

Adopting Healthier Habits by Beau Johnson

For the second time in my life I tell my therapist it’s been difficult.  The transition into what I’ve become more challenging than I ever thought possible.  However, it’s the realization that I never once foresaw the outcome that really gets me going.

“Portion control, Mr. Richards.  This is what’s key.”  I could not disagree.

For years I blamed the Asians for my condition---what they represented to a mind bereft of clarity.  And yes, deep down, I knew it to be improper; that society viewed me as a monster.  As well, it might have been a psychosomatic sort of thing that had its hooks in me.  I am willing to entertain as much.  However, if I do, then I must also admit the link this provides to the larger problems concerning my life.  In truth, the entire reason I’d sought Dr. Bashir out.

“Do you believe you are a chronic overeater?  Perhaps a secret one as well?”  The man could certainly push buttons.  I’m not saying I liked this about Dr. Bashir, just that he did.   Before I answer, I give him my teeth, each of them small, all of them rowed.  I do this because I want to, because a man like me can“All of the above, Doctor.  As you well know.  It causes me to blame others for my faults.  The very reason I continued to believe myself hungry whenever I chose to eat Chinese.  Before them, however, it was the colored man I was addicted to, and no, dear Doctor, none of my closest friends are black.”  When he doesn’t respond, I smile again, trying my best to inform Dr. Bashir at what I was trying to attempt; if anything, I am an equal opportunist, not a racist.

“Speaking of the black man---why do you think you desired them so?”  Button Pusher.  Segue Owner.  I could not default the man in front of me these things.  His glasses halfway down a blackhead encrusted nose, I take my time, Dr. Bashir growing more uncomfortable the longer I withheld my response.  He knew what I was doing, sure, the degrees upon his wall telling me as much.   Granted, he had other things occupying his mind.  Things that might have involved me, the killing of me, and the new trajectory his life had taken.  All told, it’s how an apex predator like me spreads their wings.

“Dark meat, Doctor---it holds the highest ratio of fat content there is.  On the flipside, it’s why I’ve chosen to give it up as well.”  Don’t get me wrong---I realize the light in which I place myself by stating such things.  I could not go back though, only forwards, certain it was the only way to get to the root of what I’d let myself become.  It’s here that I asked the Doctor if he agreed.

“Yes.  But perhaps we would be better served if you explained your reasoning?”  Is it any wonder why I chose this man to be my therapist?  If I was to find balance at the end of this, more than ever I was sure it was he who would guide me there.  “Because I’m tired of second hand kills, of ordering thighs online.”  Which whether I liked it or not was probably the truest answer I had given since these sessions began.

“And acquiring things this way---this makes you feel both weak and less than what you know you’re supposed to be?”  The man was brilliant, spot-on, and I took the time to tell him so.   Stating that yes, I remembered this early part of my life quite well, a time when it was only ever about the hunt.  Once I’d given myself that first taste---well, this was the crux of it, no?  Clarity and ownership and bears oh my!

I tell him yes.  Yes.  A thousand times yes.  I am powerless over food---that my life has become unmanageable because of it.  That here, now, I was seeking professional help the only way a three hundred and twenty-seven pound man like me could.  By doing this I must embrace what we’d talked about.  Done, I tell him the plan I have come up with, something I believed he would endorse.  To start, I would be eliminating what I cherish most: the skin.  Every visible trace removed from what would become only the leanest cuts of meat.  Dr. Bashir looks up at me then, his eyes following the slope of his nose.  We stare at each other, one second, two, and for a moment I sense he might bolt.  This changes when I tell him the reasoning behind my plan.

“First is because of the white man himself; that he is in abundance.  Second brings its own logic to the table, once you really examine the options left open to someone as overweight as I.  All told, I believe it shows how committed I am to this process; that I am now willing to become the very thing I eat.”  His face is exactly as I hoped it would be.  Not too dark, nor too light---just the perfect shade of a man realizing he’d taken on more than he could chew.  As with the hunt, it is a response I have come to dream of---days of a life I am fighting to restore.

Upset, the man shifts, left leg now over his right.  Good.  As today’s agenda had been twofold.  Lowering my octave, I inform Dr. Bashir that I wish to speak openly to him now.  What I convey is that I mean him no harm; that he is safe from me and how I live.  “Besides, Indian food and I have never really agreed all that much anyway.” 

It’s when his throat gives an audible click that I choose to go on.

I speak of the nutritionist he’d set me up with, remarking on how dissimilar he was from the personal trainer from a few weeks back---far more tender-looking.  Getting up to leave, I reiterate that it is as he suggested: that change is a process, not an event.  It’s as we make our way to the door that I reinforce what I must, adding that even though we’d already come to terms in regards to doctor/patient confidentiality he still resembled a man who may or may not love his family as much as he thought he did.

Not the most subtle of performances, no, but then again, I’m a man attempting to change. 

In Canada, with his wife and three boys, Beau Johnson lives, writes and breathes. He has been published before, on the darker side of town. Such places might include Underground Voices, the Molotov Cocktail, and Shotgun Honey. He would like it to be known that it is an honor to be here, down in the Gutter