Naughty but Nice

By Janey Womeldorf

Healthy living inspires me – that’s why I read about it so much – to soothe my guilt. I have tried to change my habits, but it rarely lasts. One stumbling block always gets in the way: The good life is more appealing.

I tried “intuitive eating” which is only eating what our body needs. Yesterday, I needed ice cream. I have tried listening to my body but sometimes it says, “have cheese for dinner tonight.” Currently, I’m trying to eat only when I recognize the signs. My favorite one is “free samples today.” A healthy walk on a Saturday afternoon may be good for you, but a hearty stroll down “taster alley” at our local Costco or Sam’s Club is so much more fun.

So I buy magazines. It is a transparent attempt to convince myself that at least if I’m reading about it, I’m being pro-active. Any article that promises “10 Ways to Simplify Your Life,” or “Healthy Meals in 30 Seconds” sends me scurrying to the cash register quicker than you can say “another $4 wasted.” I know this because of two reasons: One, it would take a lot more than 10 ways to simplify my life, and two, I suffer from the “affliction of eight” – the paralyzing rut that causes women everywhere to rehash the same tried and tested eight meals night after night. Delusions of trying something new force us to save recipes, cramming them into our bulging collections. Sometimes, we even go so far as to buy the ingredients. But more often than not, the recipe and the strange can of the hard-to-find product become forgotten items in the recesses of our kitchen as we serve up yet another old faithful.

But, still I buy. Unable to resist the inspirational carrots of hope and wisdom publishers dangle on magazine covers, I grab my purse, convinced that my new, stress-free life is just a purchase away. I open the glossy pages, pore over the words of advice, and, for a short while, believe I’m really going to make it happen. Then I toss the magazine on the ever-growing stack in my bedroom only to repeat this process when the next headline grabs me. Meanwhile, my life plods on without change. It’s pathetic, it’s getting expensive and my procrastination has created a bigger problem – there is a magazine tree creeping up my wall.

The pile of glossy castoffs sits there growing and gathering dust, a stressful reminder of money wasted and goals unfulfilled. I long to ignore the sizeable, stack but its presence represents a constant itch on my psyche. In random explosions of shame, I proclaim, “I am going to get rid of them this weekend,” but these moments and those weekends pass as quick as they come.

But no longer. I know what I need to do to achieve balance and live healthier – enough articles have told me: Stop procrastinating and prioritize. I will start by ridding my life of my magazine tree. It will be fun.

All I have to do is make multiple trips to and from my bedroom as I lug them all out to the car, load them in the trunk and drive five miles to the closest recycle station, all the while keeping my fingers crossed that the dumpsters won’t be already full. Full dumpsters pose an even greater stressor: Do you leave them on the ground even though the sign says not to, or do you shove them back into the trunk, mumbling, as the intense need to purge yourself ignites frustration into anger? The thought of tossing them in the regular trash becomes suddenly appealing. You look around, nervously, but guilt consumes you. Frustrated, you drive home, cursing Al Gore. To add insult to injury, the magazine on top of the heap reminds you that achieving inner peace, and living a balanced life also means taking care of our environment. Nobody said it would be easy; I just did not think it would be stressful.

So I’ve decided to seek harmony in other ways. These nuggets of joy may not reward me with additional years but they nourish my spirit, bring a smile to my face and add calm to my life. They are the smaller things in life: Crossing items off a list; finding an open parking space in front of the store in a rainstorm; the smell of toast in the morning; coming up with the perfect gift idea; vacation “moments;” finding the mate to the single earring; fall jeans that fit after a summer of shorts; surprise letters from old friends; clean toilets; eating ice cream from a cone; a new outfit; the first cup of coffee in the morning; soaking in a tub; being able to do the button up after Christmas vacations; clearance racks; cabin days at home with a good book; the buzz of energy and dreams on a college campus; the first glimpse of family at the airport; getting into bed when you’ve put clean sheets on; a great haircut; getting one’s teeth cleaned; the pop of a wine cork; cheerful store assistants; soaking one’s feet in the bidet of a European hotel bathroom after a long day of sightseeing; a bookstore, a cappuccino, and a free hour; and last but not least, the joy of indulging oneself in the inspirational pages of a magazine.

I pick one off the stack and reach for a bottle of wine – red, if I’m eating decadent, dark chocolate loaded with sugar and calories and white if I’m noshing on a plate of rich, creamy brie with salty, chemical-laden crackers. I turn to the article on sensible food choices and make mental notes of all the possibilities that might work for me. I vow to change as I fill my glass. The smooth red complements the richness of the chocolate. I take another sip, guilt free. After all, red wine is supposed to be good for you. I think I read it in a magazine somewhere.

About this writer

  • Janey Womeldorf Janey Womeldorf once went to work wearing different shoes. She now freelance writes and scribbles away in Orlando, Florida. It’s probably best.

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