Fill It Up, Premium Please

premiumSomething I learned early on in my relationship with my husband was that although he came from a poor, developing country where he had very little growing up (material-wise) he grew up surrounded by wealth, in the form of an amazing family and lots of love. 

That notion of wealth was something we had in common, despite being from different worlds, and it bonded us instantly.

Because of his humble upbringing, he took great pride in saving to buy something special and, therefore took excellent care of the few material things he had. To this day, non-material things matter most to him. But like many guys, he does love his toys: specifically cars, power tools and electronics.

Though I didn’t grow up anything but average middle class, I didn’t really ever struggle or “want” for anything. I realize this means I am very lucky– to have had both an amazing family and to not ever really be worried about money as a kid. But I was never spoiled. I knew the meaning of a dollar, and started babysitting at 13 to earn my own spending money.

That said, I’m still the type of person who would break a wine glass and expect to just get a new one without a big to-do about it, whereas he’s the kind of person who would take care of a pair of khakis until they absolutely didn’t fit anymore. (Just this weekend he finally tossed two pairs!)

Our different cultural and economic upbringings have proved  interesting over the course of our nearly nine year relationship (and nearly three year marriage). But the truth is, while neither of us will ever be inherently different people, we love each other as we are, and have learned a lot from each other — I’ve learned how to be a little more cognizant and aware of my surroundings (i.e., less careless) and he’s learned to bend a little (i.e., living in the moment a little more vs. always thinking about the future)

Which brings me to his most prized (material) possession …

Anyone who knows my husband in real life knows how much he loves his car, a 2003 BMW 5 series.  He’s one of those guys who seriosuly loves cars, and always has (in the garage, he has a photo of every car he’s ever owned … three are BMWs).

But he doesn’t just like them for aesthetics like some BMW aficionados — as an engineer, he’s interested in how they work and loves tinkering (much like my own dad). And, given his history of taking pride in what he buys, he takes excellent care of his car — knowing this investment now will pay dividends later in the form of a safe, reliable family car.

One day not too long ago we were in his car and stopped to get gas. I admit, I’m usually oblivious when we’re at a gas station (probably the Jersey girl in me who knows someone else will do it for me!), so usually I’m reading or playing with my Blackberry.

But this time I noticed he was using premium gas to fill his tank. When he got back into the car, I asked why he was using that kind versus regular.

He explained he had to; that’s what his car runs best on. He could use regular gas (like my Civic takes) but that the German automaker doesn’t recommend it; it would shorten the life of the engine. And so though it’s more expensive up-front, he uses premium gas to keep his engine running and in good shape.

Suddenly I had an epiphany.

Just because I drive a Civic  in real life, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t fuel my body like a BMW, with premium “gas.” I ought to be treating my body like the “luxury car” it is, not like some piece of metal I can ding and not be concerned about.

In the past, I’ve been guilty of fueling my “car” with less-than-premium “gas” and expected it to still run. Sometimes I’ve run it close to “E” (i.e., over-exercising) and seen my performance (naturally) decline. Sometimes I’ve over-fueled it and it hasn’t run so well (i.e., binged). Sometimes I’ve not listened when the “maintenance required” light comes on. (i.e., rest/repair).

Ultimately, we can buy a new car, but we only get one body in this life. It’s ours to treasure or trash, and all the years of disordered eating and thinking have messed up my mind as well as my body–but it’s not too late to change the proverbial “oil” and see a difference in how my “car” runs.

I admit I was surprised to have found a lesson in a routine afternoon gas stop, but it really got me thinking. It actually ties in beautifully with the notion of intuitive eating — fueling well, performing well, fueling enough but not too much.

So this week, my focus is going to be on fueling like a luxury car. I think it will go hand-in-hand with IE and I look forward to taking this challenge on.

Will you join me?

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8 thoughts on “Fill It Up, Premium Please

  1. I love using the car/fueling metaphor for my body and health. I always remind myself that in order to run efficiently and at its best I must give myself an adequate amount AND quality of fuel 🙂

  2. For me, I had to legalize all food and completely heal my relationship with food before I could move into the gentle nutrition phase of intuitive eating. To start on this phase too early would be pseudo dieting according to the authors of the IE book and for me, I’m still not all the way there yet. My body has not made all of the connections that it needs to make in order to be completely freed from the diet mentality and my ratio of play foods to nutritious foods is probably still a little higher than it will be once I have completely embraced gentle nutrition.

    As someone new to IE, I would encourage you to really evaluate where this desire to “fuel well” is coming from and think about your overall relationship with food. We each have to go about this process in our own way and sometimes we go down certain roads to teach us something important. I personally tried to incorporate gentle nutrition in way to early on my path and what I learned from that is that diets don’t work and even pseudo dieting isn’t the right way for me.

    1. Christie, I think there’s merit to that. If I were to say “no chocolate” I’d live a miserable, unfun existence. Getting to the place where I can be satisfied with a little chocolate in my day (like today) is a positive step.

      When I say “fuel well” I mean not mindlessly eating Chex mix because it’s there. There is nothing redeeming about Chex mix, I don’t care how you dice it. Yes, I could have Chex mix–but when I talk about fueling well, I just mean making the choices that give me the most energy/nutrition for the punch. Does it mean never eating Chex? No. But it doesn’t need to be part of my everyday existence.

      1. It sounds to like you still have a list of “good” foods and “bad” foods all under the cloak of good health. I had a long list of forbidden foods and I had to divide and conquer each one by legalizing them slowly but surely. Nutella was my binge food of choice, in the past, I would eat jars of it at a time. With crackers, with cake, with a spoon. Now, I happily live with jars of it in my house and I am no longer afraid of it. Do I eat it, yes? Do I eat it mindlessly? Nope, because even now, when I have moments of binging, I make the conscious choice to cope with my emotions in that way. ***knock on wood***

        Have you ever gone out and bought 10 bags of chex mix and given yourself complete permission to just eat it if you want to? For me, the stockpiling of those types of foods was a really important one and now, they just don’t have that draw. I don’t think of them as good, bad, nutritious, unhealthy, none of those things and it is so freeing.

        The ladies that wrote IE just came out with a CD that is an updated version of the book, I am in the process of listening to it now and it has some really great insights and practices that the book does not have. I really recommend it.

  3. Another good analogy. I can see where Christie is coming from– I just finished the “gentle nutrition” chapter in the IE book and it really has good information about balancing eating for nutrition as well as taste and they are very careful to reinforce the idea that good nutrtion does not = DIET acts or mentality. If so called “junk food” is what you crave then the IE approach would say have at it even though it is not “super premium” food for your body. All about the balance.

    I have indulged in some things in the name of IE that I typically would not have while “on a diet” and have been amazed that the food my mouth/brain craves does not leave me feeling as good as when I eat (healthier) food and that has a big impact no my future desires for those foods and for the choices I make.

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