Everybody and his pooch has a diet and exercise book out these days and I’m a little tired of it. Why doesn’t anybody ever ask me my advice about diet and exercise?
Well, wait a minute. Forget the diet part. I’m a little slipshod in that area, since I don’t like foods that are green or orange. Every time I see a dietary bit of advice that includes mandatory ingestion of slop like sweet potatoes and mangoes, I want to go back to bed and fall into a coma. I mean, talk about drudgery. Life is way too short and uncertain to eat sweet potatoes.
But, over the years, I’ve been so pummeled with dietary insults — mostly from my husband — that it’s a wonder I can even walk upright. He accuses me of only liking foods that are beige and white — think mashed potatoes, any kind of pasta, gravy, cheesecake, brie. Oh, wow, yum. I think about foods like that all the time and I don’t see what’s wrong with it. Listen to your body; that’s what all those whiny advice books tell you. Well, I listen to my body and my body talks about white and beige foods. I call that wisdom.
Also, and I realize this is a more serious accusation, my husband hints that I was a very poor vegetable role model for our kids. He blames me, I believe, for the fact our son never eats anything that’s green or orange. Well, maybe so. But then again, our son may be listening to his body and that body is whispering “junk food” all the time. You never know.
Oh, but enough about our family. Somebody asked my advice about exercise, right? Well, I’ve discovered the secret there. I do yoga (where one of the many mantras is to listen to your body) and I walk on the hike and bike trail. You may think walking is boring, since it involves nature and being outside and a bunch of trees. But here’s my secret: Choose your walking companions wisely.
I walk with my friend Betsy, and we discuss politics and our personal lives, or I walk with my friend Carol, and we having long critical exegeses about how everybody else’s grammar is going to hell in a handbasket, except for ours. (Our conclusions: preserve the lie/lay distinction! don’t use “fortuitous” as a synonym for “fortunate”! pronounce forte correctly! people who can’t pronounce “nuclear” shouldn’t have their paws on the nuclear button! it’s a historic, not an historic! and don’t end a sentence with a preposition!
Wait! That last admonition came from Carol and I don’t agree on. I spend half my life ending sentences with prepositions — note the preceding sentence — and I don’t see anything wrong with it. Why get that picky?
But anyway, the moral of the story is this: If you can find a friend to walk with who’s so interesting that you don’t even notice you’re getting exercise or you’re outside communing with nature, then you can go home and reward yourself with every white and beige food in your refrigerator.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)