I finally mastered the hula hoop last night. The knack is to do it slowly- who'd have thought? It was also the first time that we learned walking steps in my bellydancing class. It was much more of a workout than the other classes! We had to walk on our toes for "Turkish Tip Toes" (gotta build up those calves) and we learned "Camel Walk", "Arabic Hip Thrust Forward", and "Cross Point", among others. Once you incorporate the snake arms and wrist rotations, it looks really good all put together (well, okay, sometimes it just looks silly. But that's what it's all about, right?).
Also contributing to my good mood is that the hot dog vendors are now set up all over the city! This is one of my favourite times of year. No, I'm not planning on having any this summer (after all, the hot dogs from these stands are processed), but what I really like about the hot dog vendors is what they represent. The end of winter, the beginnings of spring. I have all of these great memories associated with walking downtown with friends and eating those hot dogs and wearing cute clothes and being happy to spend long periods of time drinking up the sun.
I was interested, when I saw the first one set up this year, to see if I would have any cravings for them. So I purposely walked past it to be able to smell them and see them all there, and you know what? I enjoyed the smell, and I enjoyed the whole concept of it and the memories that it triggered, but I had no desire to buy one. They're not necessary for me anymore. What an awakening! Isn't it amazing the associations that we have with food, and how they are often viewed as a vital part of celebrations and all? Christmas would NOT be the same without turkey. Easter would not be the same without chocolate. What's a birthday without cake? Even getting together with friends- going out for coffee often implies getting whipped cream in a fancy cup and having a scone on the side; movies implies buying popcorn or large portions of chocolate candies; going out for drinks to unwind with the girls implies slushy, sugary alcohol... this is why I find it so fascinating to try to make new associations, and alter these food-related associations so that I can still have just as good of a time without the food being necessary. And frankly, it can be very challenging. It's difficult to adopt new habits or change the old ones, especially when other people are involved ("but we always share the calamari appetizer at this restaurant!"). The question becomes one of how we can become healthier without the healthy tendencies impeding on our enjoyment of occassions. How can we share traditions and have a good time with different habits? How can we be satisfied with changing our usual ways of doing things and trying something new?
It's tricky. It's really really tricky. But isn't the fun and real feeling of accomplishment in trying to figure out a way to satisfy everyone, and then succeed in that? I don't want to restrict people from what they want to do. I don't want to be enforcing my own healthy eating habits on other people if they don't want that. But I also don't want to feel as though I need to stick with unhealthier ways because other people choose that. And that's why I appreciate it so much when I can go out with friends and we can accommodate for everyone. Once you speak up and let people know what your goals are and how you hope to go about achieving them, I find that my friends are all really supportive. Sometimes I get teased a little, sometimes they don't get it, and sometimes they ask me if I can help them out with their own nutrition. But it doesn't so much matter whether or not they want to try out my style of living: the important thing, the really valuable thing, is respecting each others decisions and supporting whatever choices each other makes.
So I'm going to look forward to all of the things that summer brings, including the opening of hot dog vendors and ice cream stalls... they represent something wonderful, and I can still enjoy the concept of them without needing to eat at them.