just 2 1/2 days back from Florida heat—10/30/11

lift, toss, don't overdo it

The other day I came back from Florida and watched 18-20 inches of snow crash down in a few hours. A freak storm. The historical record here for October is just 1.7 inches! We lost power for five days. Some people lost it for over a week. Even though I have a generator for part of each day, it’s still a more primitive existence.

Afraid that one of our flat roofs might buckle from the weight, I started shoveling off the heavy, wet snow.

Perhaps every time there is a big snow storm, some one over exerts and has a heart attack. Sometimes they die. Too out of shape, too fat, too macho to take it easy or pay a younger, fitter man to do the job. I thought of how with all this snow, I might be that idiot who drops dead. But I also thought that it was unlikely. I am fit, thin, do cardio on the tennis court. The odds were with me. Though I tired, I kept tossing the increasingly heavy shovels full of snow.

As I made progress clearing the roof, working my way through the tedium, relishing my abilities to heave the weight, I thought of all that I had given up over the years to be able to accomplish this task:

I have not enjoyed thousands of memorable and tasty meals with butter and cream sauce.
I have missed out on a million fabulous desserts with whipped cream, syrups, and icings.
I have passed on years of delicious alcohol drinks, like the sambuca and coffee beans that I was given at the hotel in Florida, and I was sipping every night.
I have pushed myself to exercise, when I didn’t want to.

You pay a price for everything, life is always a compromise, and I guess I made the right decision for me, no matter how much liquor and liqueurs I have not savored over the years…Is it really worth it? To have lived such a deprived life? Not totally, of course. I weaken now and then. There is no Big Brother ready to jail me or chain me when have an occasional pie a la mode. But I am constantly denying myself gustatory pleasures. Almost every day, I say no to some taste treat or spend time on a couch, rather than do push ups. And what’s the benefit? To be able to shovel snow? To not die from that effort?

We all make our choices, pick our paths. Some go to the gym and make muscles. I look in the mirror and wish I had the discipline to do that. Could I if I had to? Of course. But I don’t want to badly enough. I guess I was born to shovel snow sometimes. And think about anything but the boring chore of throwing frozen water drops off the roof…yet somehow, I am proud of this silly achievement.

Two great comments from Michael:

2011/11/14 at 10:41 AM

If you had been the village idiot, the rescue people would have had to go up on your slippery roof to get you down…further reducing your chances of getting to a careplex or decent cardiac unit on snowy, icy roads out in the middle of hooterville where you choose to reside. Perhaps after getting their shoes covered in snow, they would have slipped going down the three flights of stairs with you on a backboard or gurney, and dropped you over the railing…OMG, now look at the paperwork we will have to fill out. Or, in the words of my nephew, tripped over that little white ball of fur (sic…useless white dog) that was barking and biting at their heels encouraging them to hurry up and get the alpha dog out of the house so it could be in charge again.

I think we know (and I have proven) that being fit is no guarantee you will conquer the white stuff building up on your roof. While I have made a few less culinary sacrifices than you, I have for years made more fitness sacrifices. Hours lifting and toning in the gym, triathlons, kayaking, hundreds of abs each week, hiking, walking, spinning, aerobics, etc.

So I don’t worry about a little butter in my food…I never have eaten cream sauce [mom gave us margarine and corn oil, worse than butter by far…who knew].

I don’t eat many desserts, just the occasional piece of pie (once a quarter maybe), and perhaps some ice cream every couple of weeks. {Don’t you dare bring up the first cheesecake I made in almost 30 years, yes I know I ate most of it, how was I to know that no one else in the family liked cheesecake, I couldn’t let it go to waste. It took me two weeks to get through it after all.}

My cardiologist says one or two alcoholic drinks helps clean out my arteries but I choose vodka not a sweet syrupy concoction like sambuca (yes I know my liver is paying a price, but we are discussing heart attacks here. What do you mean how often do I have those one or two drinks?…next question!)

I have not been a big beef or pork eater since the mid 80s when our military served my chow, at least I hope it was beef and pork…(now maybe once a month for each), limiting myself to reasonable portions of chicken, fish or other seafood (shrimp, oysters and scallops on occasion…can’t remember the last lobster…sigh!!)

Lastly, most importantly I believe little or no fried foods, no trans fats at home, fresh vegetables and salads at every meal (no, not breakfast, I don’t eat breakfast except on the weekends, so put your egg yoke back in your repertoire and save it for someone else please). I have never had a rise in cholesterol after eating eggs for breakfast the weekend before. Did I mention I can’t remember my last lobster, I think it was responsible for about a 30 point gain one year…sigh!

So in spite of this reasonably healthy lifestyle (exceedingly healthy compared to most of the world, and certainly most Americans) I wind up with an aortic valve replacement and a double bypass at 55. Would I give up shrimp scampi if someone guaranteed me that I would not have needed to have my chest cut open…certainly. But there are no guarantees like that.

Do what you can, find your balance, check your levels annually and make some choices. If you wind up in ICU with a breathing tube and a whole lot of pain killers in you, you will still not know if it was bad choices or bad genes, all you can do is mitigate the chances of getting there.

Great pictures of you shoveling, a much higher chance that you would end up with a pulled back from twisting than a heart attack anyway. Still would have required a paramedic to get you off the roof on a backboard…I’ll stick with my two egg yokes and hire a 20 something to shovel my roof..like the man said it’s all about the choices.

Michael

2011/11/14 at 10:43 AM

Oh and by the way, the cheesecake was post surgery while I was recovering at home. If I survived open heart surgery, I ought to be able to make it through a piece of cheesecake!