From Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul

You Choose, You Lose

Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.

William Jennings Bryan

“I’ve had it. I’m sick and tired of saying I can’t have something,” I complained to my best friend Linda. “I can’t have chocolate cake. I can’t have ice cream. I can’t have a yummy éclair. Is there anything I can have?”

“You can have lots of things,” she said.

“Yeah, right. You’re not the one trying to lose weight. The wholeworld is filledwith things that are off-limits.” I sulked in my chair as I read the lunch menu in the restaurant.

Pastrami on rye. Cheeseburger. Tuna melt.

Roast beef au jus. French fries. Onion rings.

Cheesy broccoli soup. New England clam chowder.

Double-fudge brownies. Blueberry cheesecake.

The choices were endless.

As a teenager I could eat anything I wanted and as much as I wanted. Not anymore. Now I step on the scale every morning and peek at the numbers, hoping they haven’t gone higher than the day before. I’m happy if I haven’t gained and elated if I’ve lost even half a pound. It’s a daily struggle and I’m tired of fighting. I’m even more tired of that word “can’t.”

There are so many things in life I just can’t control. How tall I am (I always wanted to be short like my sister). My boss (I wish he’d save the big projects for Monday instead of Friday afternoons). The high cost of living (I wonder if I’ll ever be able to retire). I have no power over so many areas of my life. Is there something I could take control of?

Then the light bulb went off in my head, one of those “ah ha” moments when it all comes together. There was something I could control—my own mind and my own decisions.

I did have a choice in this one area, the area of what I chose to eat. I could pick something I knew would be good for me, or I could pick something that wasn’t in line with my goals. It was all a matter of choice. And it was all up to me.

Linda’s voice brought me out of my thoughts. “How about the BLT? Or is that something you can’t have?”

“You know what? Starting right now, right this minute, I’m not going to say ‘can’t’ anymore.” I sat up straight in my chair. “I’m going to say what I choose to have instead.”

“Sounds like a good plan to me,” Linda said. “So what are you having?”

“I’m choosing the Chinese chicken salad and I’m asking for the dressing on the side.”

“Sounds terrific. But you can’t have a soda with that, right?” she said. “Oops, I said can’t. I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay; it will take a while to get used to it. But to answer you, I’m choosing ice water with a slice of lemon today.”

I felt great when I came out of the restaurant after lunch. Not only did I not feel bloated from eating too much, but the salad filled me up just fine. And most of all, I felt more in control of my mind and of my eating habits.

It was something I could choose, and I love the feeling of power I have in that.

B. J. Taylor

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