I received an unexpected compliment last week. My good friend, W., and her husband graced us with a delectable low-sodium meal, after which W. commended me for how good I am about my eating. Aside the fact that W. and C. made it easy for me that night, I countered that W. has a commendable commitment to working out. We all focus our care for ourselves in different ways.
I’ve had to follow a low-sodium diet for over 10 years now. Any attention to sodium levels on nutrition labels will help you understand how challenging it is to keep one’s sodium consumption below 1000 mg daily. I miss olives and pesto and potato chips, not to mention pizza and Chinese food. Then I got cancer, and with it came a whole new set of guidelines: watch your fat intake, eat enough fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, and don’t even think of microwaving in plastic. Drink lots of water, exercise as you’re able, minimize your stress, be kind to yourself, blah blah blah.
I can’t be the only one who questions whether poor self-care when I was younger contributed to my current health problems. Before I learned to cook, I had many a dinner of ichiban noodles with soy sauce, butter, and corn, a veritable fat, carbohydrate, and sodium bomb. My sugar and fat consumption were through the roof for many years, but I countered that evil with running and the metabolism of youth. It doesn’t help me much to stew about these past transgressions, if I must call them that. Sure, I may be fairly “good”, if you don’t count the healthy portion of chocolate chips that didn’t make it into this afternoon’s batch of brownies, or the seconds of the delectable dessert I had at W. and C.’s place. (Would W. still have made that comment after I ate the seconds? I’ll never know.)
As a psychologist, I have often talked to my clients about the importance of being reasonable with ourselves at least sometimes. Consider it “striving for mediocrity”. Of course we all know what we should be doing to care for ourselves, but if we don’t take the odd break from all those rules, life loses its joy and spontaneity.
To be honest, I really admire W. for better balancing caring for herself with enjoying life. I could eat better sometimes, or exercise more, or reduce my stress, or get to bed earlier. But life is short, remember. Like W. and all of you, I have to have a little fun while I’m here. Hopefully, despite all my failings, they’ll still let me through the pearly gates.
So tonight J. and I are going for a planned spontaneous–remember, spontaneity is not my forté–pizza dinner with friends. I may go wild and order the Hawaiian, ham and all. Maybe I shouldn’t have diverted all those chocolate chips from the brownie batter this afternoon. Oh well. There’s always tomorrow.