Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
Recently, my heart health (or lack of it) demanded that I either embrace a future of repeated hospitalizations or drastically change my lifestyle. What? Me? I’m not even good at cleaning bits of food off my dishes before I put them in the dishwasher. And you want ME to change my lifestyle? How could I do that?
In his book Spectrum, Dr. Dean Ornish warns that fear is not a good motivator. Tell people they’re in danger, and they probably won’t eat better. In fact, they may have to have a good stiff drink to recover from the scare! So I’m not unusual. Change takes effort and faith that it’s worth it. Yuck.
So, how am I changing directions in my life—now in what younger people describe as my senior years? I have help.
I’m not sure I would’ve been able to brag that the blockages in my heart had disappeared from technological view in less than a month if I hadn’t had people to support me. My husband and daughter insisted on cooking low fat, no sugar, vegetarian meals taken directly from ornish.com. And we all ate them—including the grandkids. In fact, my granddaughter and daughter chose healthy meals for their birthday dinners. (The cocoa truffles—made with squished dates, not sugar—made a dessert that pleased even the kids!)
As a normal American, I’ve spent considerable time clogging my own arteries with meals stuffed with white flour products, processed foods, dairy, and sugar. Even though I’m not one who craves mass quantities of meat, I was famous for cooking a luscious leg of lamb, roast beef, nachos, or cheesecake. Sigh. Those were the days.
These days, when people begin conversations with me by telling me why they would never eat as I am now, I have to smile and keep telling myself that living well is better than eating whatever. One friend served lasagna with meat sauce, bread, and chocolate cake, insisting that since he made it all from scratch (no packages or cans), it had to be a healthy meal. Sob. He meant well. Not everyone who tries to help is actually doing it. I ate a single tablespoonful. It wasn’t as miraculous tasting as I remembered.
I’m facing the rest of my life without those foods I’ve been schooled since birth to believe are the best of living. Good grief, I’ve used those foods to soothe loneliness, sorrow, and frustration. Of course I’ll miss them sometimes. Dr. Joel Fuhrman has assured me that as my tastes change, I’ll like them less. I’m already weaned off ice cream. There’s a miracle for you!
Besides the encouragement I’ve received from other people who’ve done what I’ve done without complaining as much, I’ve also received support for the emotional aspects of a life change. My husband walks with me each morning. He wants to be with me in my life extension because we make good partners and have for decades. We attend yoga, talk, make love, and even meditate together. When I’m reluctant, he’s strong, and vice versa. So a life change depends on how you face it down—and with whom. You need to go all in—part way is a cheat that may not deliver what you need. I tell myself to stop whining and relish what I CAN eat—which is a lot, especially since I crave spicy variety. Inside myself, I celebrate my power and independence, and I’m deeply grateful that my husband doesn’t mind chopping and chopping and chopping…Oh, those endless salads.