From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Hello to a Better Body!


I didn’t need a Mocha Coconut Frappuccino last Friday night, but I wanted one. A sugary coffee drink wasn’t good for me; I knew that. Why would I want extra calories after I’d told my husband and my sister I was trying to lose weight? (Menopause has added a whole new dimension to my life — and my waistline.)

I didn’t want the drink because I was hungry. My gut still felt full after supper: broccoli soup, carrot sticks, and half a grilled cheese sandwich made with 100% whole grain bread. A low-calorie meal (except for the cheese) with lots of antioxidants. I racked up at least two vegetable servings for the day with that supper.

No, I wanted a Mocha Coconut Frappuccino because I wanted it. The drink offered me a nice end to an exhausting week. I planned to order the light version with sugar-free syrup and non-fat milk. Plus I had a treat receipt from my husband’s coffee purchase earlier in the day. My sweet indulgence would cost me only $2. Just $2 for a little shot of happiness. How could I waste such a bargain?

I had it all worked out in my mind. I wouldn’t have to make a special trip, because there was a Starbucks inside the nearest Target. I could redeem the treat receipt after I finished picking up toilet paper and paper towels with no gas wasted.

So I headed to Target, fully determined to reward myself. Once there, I decided I could walk off some calories in advance if I walked fast. I grabbed a cart and charged down the main aisle, burning rubber the whole way to Paper Goods. Then I wheeled through some other departments to scorch a few extra calories.

Thirty minutes later I returned to the front of the store and paid for my purchases. Then I walked over to Starbucks. The big moment had arrived; there were no customers in line. I laid my receipt on the counter and gave my order to the petite blonde behind the counter.

“Sorry, ma’am. We don’t have any sugar-free syrup for that drink. Or any sugar-free syrup for the chocolate drinks. I can use the non-fat milk, but you’ll still get all the calories of the regular syrup. Or you can have a light caramel drink or a vanilla light. I have sugar-free syrups for those.”

But I didn’t want caramel or vanilla. Not that I don’t like caramel, but my taste buds had anticipated mocha and coconut. I was ready to ignore my full stomach for something worthy like chocolate, but for vanilla or caramel? No way. You can burn only so much energy shopping for toilet paper.

And that’s when it happened: I heard voices. With no warning, all the dieting mantras and “eat wisely” slogans from every television expert and magazine article in my past began racing through my brain.

Think about what your body really needs.

Are you hungry, or are you just thirsty instead?

If you’re thirsty, drink a glass of water.

Empty calories add real pounds.

You have to take care of your body.

The risk of a heart attack or stroke increases if you’re over fifty.

You’ll have to exercise for an hour to make up for this.

Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.

When the voices in my head stopped, I was still staring at the menu board. The girl was waiting; I needed to make a decision.

“Sorry, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t really want caramel or vanilla, and I can’t afford the extra calories for the other drinks. Thanks for your time, but I’m not ordering anything tonight.”

I picked up the treat receipt and rolled my cart to the door.

My dad was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at age sixty, as was his mother. I’m only five years away from that mark. Friends and relatives my age have already battled serious cancers. If I was diagnosed with cancer next month, I’m not sure whether my body would be ready for the fight.

Like many women my age, I know what I should do when it comes to my health. I’ve read the articles and watched the health stories about baby boomers on television. I’ve heard the fitness gurus encouraging me to make wise food choices and get moving. I listen to their advice most of the time, but sometimes I don’t want to listen. I want the voices in my head to be quiet.

Last Friday I listened to the voices, and they were right. I didn’t need a Frappuccino or a bunch of meaningless calories. I needed a glass of water, and I could get that at home.

~ Donna Savage ~

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