Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 77 of Your Year to Wellness; Stop Counting and Start Living

From Mindless Living to a Meaningful Life   

Yesterday I went back to counting calories; not the old way of weighing and measuring every single thing I put in my mouth.

I went back to something I used to do but somehow forgot along the way. I went back to counting the calories of the things I did NOT eat; the things I successfully passed up.

It started when I went across the street from the hotel I was staying at in Portland to get a morning cup of tea. I was the first one there when the Starbucks opened and all of the pastry was fresh and new. It was arranged beautifully like in a French bakery I once moved into when I went to Paris one summer. (I didn’t really move in, but it looked like I did.)

Most days when I get to have a green tea latte with soy milk and no classic sweetener (you have to tell them to leave it out, or it goes in anyway,) I look at the pastry but it’s easy for me to pass them up. By the time I get there the baked goods all have that sad, “someone please take me home” look and I am able to ignore their little dried out pleas.

But yesterday, the pastries spoke to me. “Hey girl, I would look good on you.” I knew it was a sleazy pick-up line but they had that good-bad boy thing going and so I did a double take. The apple fritter spoke first and sounded like a black man with a French accent. I thought of Yannick Noah back in the day dread locks flying as he obliterated his opponent in a tennis match where all bets were for the other guy. (And we wonder why food is so emotional.)

The bagel spoke next, slowly and deliberately like Djimon Hounsou in the movie Amistad.

“Give us free. Give us, us free.”

I laughed to myself and the barista (remember when they were just that woman from the coffee shop) smiled like she was thinking “We get a lot of crazy people in here so, it’s a part of our policy to be nice.”

I told her that the pastries were talking to me but I was NOT having them and that it was now her job to not let me. She laughed and offered me a banana or oatmeal and I told her she was good, but I was just there for the tea.

That’s when it dawned on me to count what I didn’t eat. I had done it the past and was always delighted to see how much food I’d mindlessly eat just because the food was there.

I made a mental note to add the apple fritter and or bagel to the things I didn’t eat list and started back to the hotel noticing how light I felt.

I was at a conference, and I knew that there would be lots of good food, but I was ready to “just say no.” I was scheduled to speak late in the day but as I normally do, I sat in on the other lectures knowing that there would be much to learn.

Throughout the day people offered me things that I may or may not have accepted but as I turned them all down, I added them to my list of calories I did not eat and at the end of the day I was amazed by the list.

I did not have a croissant or a bag of chips. I passed up biscotti, a piece of Sea’s chocolate a soft pretzel, cookies, cheese cake, gnocchi (with a light cream sauce) and baked Alaska. But there was a lot that I did take in.

As I listened to a brain specialist, a behavior analyst and two business consultants, I learned that the brain is only 2% of the body mass but uses 26% of the energy. No wonder thinking work makes you hungry. I found out that we tend to like the cognitive scripts which enable us to run on automatic because processing new ideas requires much more energy. We like our comfort zones because they are familiar to us and back in the day when our ancestors were running from saber tooth tigers, familiarity meant safety. Today that familiarity means comfort. I learned that only 2% of the population can truly multitask but we all think we are in that number and that if we had bigger plans for ourselves, we’d have bigger outcomes.

The day was filled with brilliant ideas and ways of thinking and there was lots of food and amazing folks to share it with but I also learned that I had a choice, I could fuel my brain body and life with what it needed or I could keep mindlessly giving it what I had learned to want.

At the end of the day I looked at what I passed up and asked myself a simple question;

Did I do better today than I did the day before?
·         Enjoy this day.
·         Learn something new.
·         Make big plans and have big ideas.
·         Be better than you were yesterday.
·         Be mindful.

I’m so glad that we are on this journey at this time together.
Be you, be well, be peace
Bertice Berry, PhD.


  1. I was privileged to be in the audience yesterday to hear your presentation. You made me laugh, you made me cry, but most of all you made me feel appreciated for the work I do everyday being a nurse leader. "leading the leaders" you called it; I love that! I am sorry when I came to say hello I was overwhelmed by my own emotions; tears came freely of joy, appreciation, and thanks for hearing your beautiful story. I will forever remember your words of gratitude, and I will share them with ny nurses. Thank you so much for being and giving so much to others.

    1. Thank you so very much Teresa. I truly appreciate all of the work you all do. In fact,I am actually compiling a book of nurses stories called Children of Grace.
      Thanks for sharing your emotions, you truly touched my heart. Bertice