Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Truth and Consequences

My mother is the youngest girl of 10 children. Her baby brother died a couple of years ago and other brothers and sisters passed before that so now there only remains my mother, her sister who is one year older and their oldest brother.  Additionally, she is at the point of her life where many of her friends and acquaintances are passing away.  It's tough and every time she hears about someone else who has been diagnosed with some terrible thing like cancer, I can tell she wants to sweep in and save them so her life does not melt away before her eyes.

The other day in a phone conversation she began to tell me that her sister's husband, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last June, is refusing to have any treatments for it.  He spent some time talking with men who have been through the various surgeries and procedures and decided that he does not want to possibly suffer the consequences.

This terrifies my poor aunt, who can't imagine not having him around after 54 years of marriage.  In turn, my mother is upset and terrified for her sister.

While she was talking I'd had a thought go through my head and when she finished I said, "You know mom, there are still going to be consquences from his choice.  Just different ones.  There are always consequences from the choices we make."

Over the past couple of weeks I've had a lot of opportunity to think about that very thing as it relates to how I eat.  While it's quite possible that I am the victim of some bad genetics, there is also the possibility that I can change the consequences by making different choices.

Mr. Helen and I were in a conversation over the weekend and he said, "Oh you can't have that."  I replied to him that in fact, I 'could' have whatever I wanted to, but the consequence of certain choices might be that my cholesterol will not drop and I will have to go on medication.  Which I really do not want to do.

As I've negotiated the waters of this new way of eating, I've tried to keep it in the forefront of my mind that every choice I make will have a consequence.  For me, right now, I am much more in tune to what my choices will do for my HEALTH as opposed to what they will do for my weight. 

For example, on Monday night when Mr. Helen was making some lovely baked cod for dinner, I simply requested that he not use butter on my piece of fish and brush it with a bit of olive oil instead.  Hopefully small choices like this will have the consequence of bringing my cholesterol numbers down.

Still, as I confided in a friend recently, even when I did first stage of the South Beach Diet some years ago, which most people say kills their sugar cravings, I never, ever stopped craving carbs and sweets.  Never.  The minute that first two weeks was over I had a spaghetti dinner with ice cream for dessert.

Thankfully, my doc is allowing me one "free" day a week.  She explained that research has been done that shows if individuals partake of saturated fats on just one day, rather than spreading it out over the course of an eating week, it seems to have little to no effect on cholesterol.  In other words, it's best to have your cheese-filled, double-stuffed potato with real butter,  and Porterhouse steak with butter sauteed mushrooms, and a decadent dessert one time a week, rather than having a teeny bit each day.  She also told me whatever you can make at home will still have less saturated fat than almost anything you could buy.  I guess all those little goodies you can buy at the grocery store bakery are not made in the healthiest fashion, even if they are freshly baked.

Consequently, one of the choices I have made is to limit my sweets, even if they would 'fit in' calorically or any other way.  It doesn't mean I don't want them.  I do.  Almost every night I think about having just a scoop of ice cream, or one cookie, or one square of chocolate, but right now I am choosing to try to change the consequence of my genetics.

Monday, I was having hungry day for some reason.  All day long I just wanted to eat.  And pretty much nothing I ate felt satisfying.  Even though my head knew darn well I had eaten plenty of food, I sort of felt like my nerves were on edge. When I get like this, sweets seem even more appealing.

Sitting at my desk, minding my own business, two of the managers popped into my office and handed me this, saying, "Thank you for all your hard work for the company!"

That right there is a Chocolate Covered Cake Ball.  It's about the size of a golf ball.  Can you even begin to guess how badly I wanted to pop that sucker in my mouth?  But I happened to be in the midst of a text conversation with Shelley.  So instead I took this photo and sent it to her.  Her response?  "Are you going to eat it?"  (How much do I LOVE that she didn't judge or tell me what to do?  She just asked.) Which made me stop and think about it.  Was I?  Because really, I should be saving this thing for my free day... while I was composing myself and my thoughts, they came back through with this:

That right there?  Chocolate Covered Oreos!  I was texting Shelley as fast as I could, almost so I could breathe and be rational.  Finally I answered her that I would not eat it until at least Wednesday and in fact was going to challenge myself to hold onto it until Saturday. She responded, "You can do that... just put it out of sight."

So, I need to thank Shelley for helping me see that I CAN DO IT.  That it's important to me to remember the consequences of the decisions I make.

The treats are out of sight (which sort of helps make them out of mind) for now.  And I need to tell the truth:  my free day is Saturday.  So I won't be having them today.  You can hold me to that.


  1. What great resolve you have! You must feel so in control. I love your method: enjoy it on your terms ... not just because it's there.

  2. I got anxious when I saw that second treat. Uhm, why are they trying to sabotage you? Do they know you are trying to eat healthy? "Thanks for the appreciation, do you know that Starbucks or Hallmark sell gift cards?"
    I am so proud and inspired by your decisions. I am going to hang out with Jillian for a while now, may I feel as inspired as the day progresses as I do right now.

  3. There are always consequences. Sometimes the good ones and sometimes the not so good ones. That is a phrase that I stick to in all areas of my life. And some days? I'm willing to take the negative consequences when I weight my options. Good for you for weighing them!

  4. What a great entry. You're right...Every decision we make has consequences. I'm taking this with me today :)

  5. That is so profound, what you said to your mother. I have heard of several men who wouldn't do the treatment for prostate cancer. Their consequence? Death. Seriously, I don't get it, but that was their choice. I really like you it applies to everything in life and I plan on stealing fact, it's going into my desktop folder of "great blogger quotes" right now. :)

    So funny that while you were helping me with running on Monday I was helping (inadvertently) with your food decisions...I'm glad I could help, and what a relief to not have to eat them just yet. LOVE having a day set aside for that!

  6. HOW it applies to everything...really need to proof read more!

  7. You are Superwoman! You rocked that temptation. You can enjoy those treats on Saturday with great delight.. even more so because you worked it into your plan. Woo Hoo!!! I've read so many comments on these blogs about choices, and one of my favorites is "Not making a choice IS making a choice." Unfortunately, choices (in life as well as in eating) do bring consequences. Enjoy your treats on Saturday!

  8. Great job on resisting the treats...for today, with a little help from your friend! For me, I would have had to literally close my hand around each of them and crush them, then stuff them in a bathroom trashcan to not eat them. I've done it before. Putting them out of sight would just cause their call to me to crescendo.

    Great thoughts about consequences too, Helen.

  9. great job. That is what I tell myself too. I can have anything I want, I choose not to. I don't know why, but mentally it works. If I tell myself I can't have something.(I am oppositional in nature) then I want it more.
    Everything is a choice.
    Good post.

  10. What a challenge for you to be trying to control your cholesterol with diet. Reminds me of Pubsgal who works so hard at controlling her diabetes with diet. I do like the idea of having the one free day a week. And I also agree with the out of sight/out of mind concept. I'm not sure why it works now for me when it didn't in the past. But I'm glad it does!

    I'm just so impressed with all the work you are doing on this life challenge.

  11. It is definitely a consequence thing. It is relearning that the food will still be there in a day or 2. When I was really overweight, I would eat something like I couldn't go out and buy it the next day or go to a restaurant again. It is not the end of the world to not have something the moment you see it or think about it.

  12. Good Gawd Gertie!? Chocolate covered cake balls? This is my first time seeing them though I have been fantasizing about them for 54 years now.

    P.S. I really dislike it when someone tells me I cannot eat something. I was to run them over with a bulldozer, eleventy-seven times.

  13. I meant to say that I *want* to run them over.

  14. First great job on holding off on the treats and saving them for your free day.

    It really does come down to choices. Once I started focusing on my health and fine tuning my food choices to benefit my health the weight came off. It also made it easier to make those good choices knowing I was doing it to be kind to my body.

  15. I loved reading this post Helen! Not only that throught the help of Shelley you were able to make a decision not to eat it, but that you are taking control.

    The only obstacle anyone has to eat right and be healthy is ourselves most of the time! I am the one who chooses to eat Cheez-Its, no one is forcing them on me!


  16. I posted a long comment and lost it :(

    Just wanted to say great job on holding off until your free day. I used to do them too way back when I did the Body for Life and they worked for me. Should probably think about doing them again....

  17. Don't know if I would have it left alone, maybe. Would have depended on how I felt that day. This was an interesting post to read, you have a great approach concerning your eating.

    As for not taking treatment. I think it's someone's own decision. My Dad was diagnosed with throath cancer in August 1995. He immediately said he wouldn't take treatment and the doctors responded to that, that he had 3 weeks to 3 months to live. That made my Mom, sister and me so incredibly sad that my Dad decided to take the treatment and he lived for 5 more years but couldn't win the battle.

    Looking back I sometimes wonder if we shouldn't have let him do what he wanted to do: no treatment because those 5 years have been so hard on him. Cancer treatment is so hard, I've seen how much pain he has had those last 5 years. I'm grateful that we had him around for 5 years but for him maybe we could have been less selfish. In May 2000 the cancer returned and there was almost nothing left to do about it and he decided to stop treatment but never told us about it, only my Mom knew and he died that same month, his body was done with it. I have peace with that, he fought hard en he lost.

    Point of this story: sometimes we take treatment for the people we love even though we would rather do something else. I think it's your uncle's decision what he wants to do and everybody else has to respect that even if it's hard.

    Boy that's a long comment, sorry for that.