You Never Know…So Ease the Heck Up!
As someone creatively driven by her emotions, I absolutely knew I could write no other post this week.
She’s been on my mind every day for over a month … so you’ll have to excuse me fiber, vegetable soup, and chia seeds, but you’re all being moved to the back burner.
On March 4th, my dear friend Maryanne passed away from cancer — a diagnosis she received less than three short months prior to her transition.
The thing is, she had no clue this disease was looming in her body.
I’m sure Thanksgiving 2019 was like any other.
It’s not up to you
If you’re anything like me, you fall into the trap of believing that tomorrow will come, and will be just like today: business as usual. Get up, make the coffee, drive to work, scrounge up something for dinner…and at the end of the day, lament all of your less-than-perfect food choices.
But we are guaranteed nothing; not a second more than this one.
Our final breath is not up to us.
Back in February, I visited my dear Maryanne in Hospice and was given the precious, bittersweet opportunity to share my deepest feelings– how much I loved her and the impact she made on my life. I told her that even though we may do everything in our power to be healthy…sometimes “life” has other plans.
Her response? A tear formed at the corner of her eye and rolled down her cheek, almost as if in slow motion.
At that moment, time stood perfectly still.
YOU still have time
I don’t know for sure because the cancer took away her ability to speak, but I suspect Maryanne wasn’t ready to die.
At 67 years young, she had five grandchildren to spoil, bike trails to explore, red wine to sip, road trips to take with her husband, and donkeys to care for.
Yes…Maryanne had two donkeys and a whole bunch of chickens too!
I don’t mean to make this such an emotional, sorrow-filled post (well…maybe I do!), but there was something about the way Maryanne ate her lunch that afternoon that filled me with sadness and my own urgent-yet-heartfelt conclusion.
One by one she ate her French fries, followed by a forkful of fried fish here and a few green beans there.
Slowly she chewed, and after 20 minutes or so, the plate—along with a slice of chocolate cream pie— was polished clean.
And as I watched her, all I could think of was this:
Do I want to wait until the end of my life to have a little guilt-free pleasure? What’s it all for if I can’t enjoy a damn piece of pie on occasion without calculating sugar grams?
I paint this picture because it’s the only way for me to pluck your emotional strings and lodge the following message into the very core of your being:
Give yourself permission to ease up and enjoy your precious life…including, and especially, your food. Cherish every moment possible; savor every bite.
Ease up already!
Now, I’m not proposing you say “screw fruits and veggies…I could die tomorrow, so bring on the brownies, beer, and bacon cheeseburgers”
…but I’d like to encourage you to lighten up on yourself.
PS: The evening after my visit with Maryanne, I did just that with a big fat white chocolate sundae covered in strawberry sauce (+ whipped cream). See below for my funny story…
It’s time to ease up on this all-or-nothing attitude that, let’s be honest, doesn’t work. It only serves to give tremendous power to the very foods on your no-no list.
I promise that will blow right up in your pretty little face.
When it comes to our lifestyle choices, we (including ME) are waaaaaaaay too hard on ourselves. We eat a little sugar and suddenly remember what “they” (yep…I’m guilty of saying it too!) say about the sweet stuff:
It’s a toxin!
It’ll spike your blood sugar.
It causes inflammation.
And while all this is true, it’s not reason enough to beat up on yourself if it happens to cross your lips at a birthday party.
Nor should you swear off the occasional planned indulgence, because after all, what’s life without ice cream?
Give yourself a big fat break already!
A mantra worth memorizing
Here’s a little mantra that’s worth committing to memory:
My beautiful body thrives on nutritious, whole foods like greens, berries, and broccoli. It’s true the more I eat these foods, the more my body craves them. But it’s equally true that I am a perfectly imperfect human being, one who adores the occasional planned indulgence. This is a positive quality, one that should be honored, respected, and thoroughly enjoyed… without an ounce of guilt.
I don’t know about you, but I look forward to my occasional planned indulgence of an ice cream sundae (or Jack Frost donut). It reminds me that: oh yes, that’s right, I AM human!
Death’s door…you WILL be there one day
This now begs the question:
When faced with the inevitable door of death, how do you want to feel about your lifetime food choices?
I’ve given this a lot of thought, after all, there’s a fine line between taking care of your body and obsessing over your food choices to the point of stripping it of all pleasure.
Personally, I want to feel proud that I fed this beautiful vessel with nutritious food (especially my all-time favorite Pan Seared Salmon)– a gift for lovingly and unselfishly carrying me through this world.
But I also want to feel damn proud that I had some fun along the way too…like that time when I enjoyed a large white chocolate strawberry sundae with whipped cream (after a full dinner) and was so stuffed I could barely bend over to pet my cat. Or when I went to Jack Frost Donuts on Fat Tuesday (not realizing it was Fat Tuesday) and had my first experience with a cream-filled Packzi. Pure heaven on earth.
My beautiful friend…this dance called life is about balance. Balance of 80-90% wholesome food and 10-20% fun.
And occasionally it’s more like 50-50.
I promise it all evens out in the end.
Here’s how to protect yourself from regret NOW…
I encourage you to place yourself at death’s door. Why not? We’re all going to be there one day, so why not contemplate the idea now to ensure you have no regrets then.
Go ahead, put yourself there now.
Are you there?
OK, now answer these three questions as they relate to your food choices over the course of your life:
- Do I have any regrets either way?
- Did I spend too much time in the “fun-zone” and perhaps unintentionally contribute to my impending departure?
- Did I obsess over my food choices and not have any fun at all?
It’s not too late to make a shift in either direction: to fuel your precious body with more wholesome food and also, to ease up, give yourself a damn break, and live a little.
It’s not too late to make sure, when that day comes…you have zero regrets.