UNITED STATES—In my experience, the topics addressed in self-help often turn out to have uncanny relevance for the author. For example, the importance of just saying yes was my theme on the eve of the most lavish week of food gifts I have ever experienced. And thanks to my considerations about dealing with food gifts, particularly those off-plan, I have been able to breeze or at least gracefully endure the onslaught.
This has made possible by a core of practices, which stay pretty much in place no matter what:
–Exercise first thing every morning
–Eat only at mealtimes
–Give the stomach a rest three hours before sleep
–Lot of veggies and fruits, whatever else you eat
That core practice of eating a lot of veggies got shot right out of the water on Mother’s Day, when we went to an Italian place which is gluten central. Close as we got to a green was the look on my face when I saw the menu. Yet this seriously “off-plan” experience proved the whole point of just saying yes. Only an incurable food Scrooge could deny the restaurant was a fun place; people and families were talking and laughing; the waitress was fun. There was no room for misgivings over the starchy menu.
After all the gluteny, they gave us a choice of a “tomorrow” entrée to take home. Yes, this is evil planting the seed that pasta should be every day, but I got lucky—I embraced this freebie—my stomach guide told me to order spaghetti and meatballs. Listen, during the whole week after Mother’s day I alternated: half a portion of the spaghetti one day, complemented by an ample portion of broccoli, spinach and fresh tomato. The other day, one of the two giant meatballs I turned into vegetable and meatball soup.
To be sure, a vital practice that keeps me in diet guru form is exercise. First thing after coming to in the morning. It is a source of strength and regularity in times on-plan and off. Twenty minutes of stretches, breathing exercises and calisthenics will hold you in good stead. Be aware: when you just say yes to bread and pasta, it’s going to stir up those charming demons that say, “You feel like sleeping. You’re still tired. Go back to bed, baby yourself. Enjoy the warmth under the covers.”
But if you slog away moving your body despite the demon voices, about halfway into the routine you’ll start feeling the gusto kick in. Those arms and legs start moving in gleeful defiance of the sorcerer of inertia.
My dueling food preferences and just say yes didn’t end with the Italian repast. No sir. There was an event at my daughter’s school, a year-end fair I hadn’t planned on. At home the meatball soup was waiting. And that was free and made my way, lots of veggies and garlic. The school event offered some good choices. They actually had fresh-cut fruit. Anyhow, the event dragged on and on and I was left hanging for the meatball soup. This ended up messing with my culinary evening (Even a diet guru isn’t perfect). I went home hungry and raided the kitchen at a very late hour, thus breaking one of my core ideals of not eating three hours before sleeping.
The upshot of this is an addendum to JUST SAY YES. This is it: Just say yes to WHAT THERE IS WHEN AND WHERE I AM. Embracing what is offered and adapting to the flow has been shown time and again to profit me body and soul.
And Saturday night I was ready when, at the end of a shift, at a gas-station convenience store, a worker turned to me and said, “Sir, take anything you want. If you don’t take it, we’ll just throw it out. And I’ll have to write up an inventory.”
That was when I grabbed the Monster Taquito (spicy beef, cheese and crispy tortilla), two corndogs, a jalepeño burger, a Jimmy Dean egg-cheese-sausage biscuit. Like I say, just say yes.
Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now,” a diet for the mind and body. Mr. Miller welcomes mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.