Artist: Giuseppe Arcimboldo 1573
Series: The Seasons
Dimensions: 76 x 64 cm
Gallery: Musée du Louvre, Paris, France
I will be the first to admit that the investment you make in your own health takes time every day. It is a good investment and like all good investments, it needs attention. I’d like to share some of my dividends from this week and some of the strategies I used to stick with my good habits.
I got a call last Wednesday morning from my mom’s friend, telling me my 88 year old mother had fallen twice that morning and didn’t seem like herself. I told her friend to call the paramedics and I would meet them at the hospital.
I had eaten breakfast but not lunch and the call came around 11. I remained calm and packed myself a couple of cuties (mandarin oranges), some raw almonds and a kashi bar. I grabbed some water and a notebook and pencil and headed to the hospital.
My mom was conscience and not in any pain, so we sat in the ER until about 4:00. I didn’t want to eat in front of her because they weren’t allowing her any food. I did manage to eat a couple of almonds when I stepped out a couple times. My daughter and one of my sisters joined us.
At around 4 they brought her a little lunchbox thing and took her up to a room. Another sister arrived and my daughter and I left around 6:30. We went to pick up my grandson.
By now we were starving. My daughter suggested we go to eat at a Korean chicken wing place near her home. This is the strange bit, part of my brain was salivating over the sugar-salt-fat trifecta that is the fried chicken wings, but my mouth said, “I can’t eat those.”
Where did that come from?
I think it came from practicing this habit. I still have this conversation in my head often enough, but the tone has changed. The conversation used to take place between a whiney child, a martyr, or someone who felt deprived and the voice of reason. The voice of reason was a separate voice, if that makes any sense. It was an argument that went on in my head. If I was unusually hungry, I was anxious and that made it even harder to hear the commands.
Now, it is a conversation. The best way I can describe it is, now the part of my brain that longs for the sugar-fat-salt is reasonable. The voice of reason (which is who I identify with now) doesn’t shout or cajole, the old habit just says OK when I speak. Because I have the list of non-scale benefits. I have articulated how I feel freedom from the slavery that is the sugar-fat-salt addiction. I can go on Spark People and read the stories of success written by people in the same boat as me. I don’t feel like it is hopeless anymore. I can see tangible changes almost every day.
I have been practicing this habit for a little over a year now. I practice it every time I go to a store. Every time I walk past Cape Cod potato chips. Every time I see the strip steaks at my butcher where I buy my chickens. Every time I see all the imported white flour pasta at the Italian wholesale place. Every time I am in the coffee shop and don’t get a treat to go with my espresso.
Every time I walk past the award winning restaurant on the next block and don’t stop in to have the chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce. I don’t feel deprived. I do plan sometimes to stop in there and enjoy one of the award winning dishes. As time passes, the date ceases to be the one I choose. I will take a bite if someone else has it, but last I went in I got the kale dish with a super glass of wine. I had planned out the calories for the date dish, but since I opted for the kale I got the wine to go with it. Smart choice. Was I deprived? No – I knew that eating the date could have led me to some cravings and I just don’t want to go there.
Other dividends? My daughter remarked on how calm I was throughout this crisis and how patient. She said that I used to be so “unpredictable.” Of course I was. I was an addict lurching from fix to fix and I was thinking about the next meal before I finished the one I was eating. Being hungry was a source of anxiety so much so that I couldn’t decide what to eat on many occasions. When I was really hungry, I’d go into a place and if there were too many choices I would have to leave.
Writing these blogs about the benefits that are not measured in pounds lost on the scale has helped me focus on the good health aspect of what I am trying to achieve. It serves as reinforcement and helps me articulate my success for myself.
I hope that it also helps the person who is still locked in the struggle and wonders if it is worth it. I am still that person some days although they are getting few and far between. My friend who introduced me to my yoga practice told me, “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.” And she’s right.
I chose Giuseppe Arcimboldo's Spring to illustrate this blog because I feel like I have had a new beginning, which is the source of joy that springs holds for us. We have to clear away the old habits that no longer serve us and plant our healthy habits so they develop good roots.