“No, thank-you” means “Yes, please” in Italian. These are the words of a client lamenting how his Italian heritage conflicts with a healthy weight. He admires friends who are disciplined and controlled and seem to enjoy life . . . He seems a little surprised that they do.
My client would like to be disciplined. He says that whenever he tries the disciplined path he eventually says, “Screw this. You only have one life! You need to enjoy life before it’s too late.” Of course this warrants a discussion. He seems to view discipline and the possibility of enjoying life to be a contradiction.
You can die suddenly no matter how you live. You can treat your body like a garbage disposal and live to an old age. Quality of life, and enjoyment of it, are entirely different matters. There are no guarantees.
We could put discipline and enjoying your one life on a continuum. At one end it looks like the military with rigorous training, hard and fast rules, or dieting. At the other end we have the overeater who stays up late and parties hard. “Live it up!”
What if we could live somewhere in the middle? What if we could be guided by some habits and, . . er, disciplines that are meant to be broken now and then?
Full disclosure. I’m one of those disciplined types. It stems, in part, from my personality. I’m not impulsive or risk-oriented. I can follow rules. Health happens to be one of my core values and figures prominently in my life. I recognize that these are distinct advantages in my ability to practice self-care and wellness. And I enjoy life! I am not anxious to bust out like troops on R’n’R.
As it often does with people who struggle with weight, it comes down to all or nothing thinking. The key is to find the sweet spot somewhere on the continuum between the military approach and the one life philosophy. The strict, military approach works for soldiers and serious competitors. The live it up philosophy usually works for a while. Eventually you could get fat, sick and tired.
We’re all going to die. What do you want with your one life? You get to choose.
You know you’re at the right place on the continuum when you don’t feel deprived and you can still enjoy your nonnna’s pasta – without burgeoning weight. You can’t change your nonna, but you can change your mind.