I’ve started keeping a new list. I call it my “Things I Shouldn’t Have Eaten Today” list, and it’s part of my strategic plan for a healthier lifestyle. (I also have a “Things to Do” list and a “Things I Damn Better Do Because My Wife Says So” list.)
My first entry was a Reuben with corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Does it get any better, or worse, than that? It was followed by Pringles, frozen yogurt with chocolate chips (they were dark chocolate, which is good for you), and a handful of Mike and Ike candy. I didn’t eat the whole box because I’m trying to exercise self-restraint.
The next day, my list included tacos garnished with sour cream, cheese and other savory but deadly toppings. Then, there was a pizza, but only half of it had pepperoni, which represented a valiant effort on my part.
I’m monitoring what I eat because my doctor told me to cut down on carbs. No pasta, no pizza, no rice, no potatoes, no nothing. It was a long list of prohibitions to reduce my triglycerides and prolong my life. But what kind of life is it without carbohydrates?
My list is VERY CONFIDENTIAL. It’s top secret and has the same level of confidentiality as an FBI memo about Donald Trump. If my family uncovers this classified information, I’ll have to listen to them lecture me about my lack of self-control and how I need to go on the Keto diet or the Mediterranean diet and give up Mike and Ike for Lent, which is not going to happen.
If my wife saw my list, she’d turn it over to my doctor with the enthusiasm of Daniel Ellsberg delivering the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. Or Stormy Daniels trying to sell her story to the National Enquirer.
I keep this list hidden. It’s my personal self-help training tool to transform me into a healthier person.
Lists have always been useful in my self-improvement campaign. Since I started compiling a “Things to Do” list, my productivity increased 50%. And my “Things I Am Grateful For” list increased my positive attitude by 73%.
My “Things I Shouldn’t Have Eaten Today” list is supposed to help me control my diet. As they say in 12 step programs, “Admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery.”
In my defense, that Reuben was the first one I’ve had in months. After I got my cholesterol test results, which were pretty good, I rewarded myself with some saturated fat and red meat. I suppose I went too far with the pepperoni pizza. On the other hand, a guy can eat only so much kale in one lifetime. Is there any other creature in the animal kingdom that eats kale? My dog won’t touch it.
Sticking to a healthy diet isn’t easy. By the end of the day, I’m overcome with cravings for saltwater taffy and cinnamon buns.
I’ve been trying to improve my diet ever since I saw a video with Dr. Oz, who said we can add years to our lives if we swear off things like Slim Jims and pork rinds. Who doesn’t want a few extra years? If you’re Larry King or Jane Fonda, you want a few extra decades.
What perplexes me is everyone I know in their 80s and 90s lived a profligate life, at least by American Heart Association standards. They smoked. They ate steak and eggs for breakfast. They devoured Big Macs. They guzzled bottles of wine. And none of them kept a “Things I Shouldn’t Have Eaten Today” list. If they did, they ignored it.
Yesterday’s list included a chili dog (actually two) and a Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s. I got caught with the shake and all hell broke loose. I told my wife they only sell those shakes one month a year, and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. And I’m not even Irish.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.