Jabba on your shoulder

Mental health

‘My mouth isn’t asking for chocolate, my whole body is asking for it,’ said my son recently, totally disassociating himself from his need for the sweet stuff. Nope, nothing to do with him. At the age of three, he nailed it: how cravings work. As an adult, you can test it out. Go on. ‘My mouth isn’t asking for [insert your vice here], my whole body is asking for it.’

Each day, I scrape by on a dichotomous regimen of stubborn disagreements between my mind and my body. They aren’t even close to deciding how we are going to live out the rest of our days together. A wingman for each sits on either shoulder. One’s clear (militant, even) about what it wants. Green things, water, fruit, no rubbishy big bready things. No alcohol. The other is really laissez-faire. Slovenly. Looks a bit like Jabba the Hutt. Lives for today. To hell with tomorrow.

I tell Jabba that it’s all very well living like that in your 20s but not in your 40s when you have health issues and three small boys. At this age, you know that most of the decisions you make regarding exercise and diet are going to have a knock-on effect on how well you live. And how long you live. But then Jabba will tell you: fuck it, come on! You could get run over by a bus tomorrow. You deserve this, it’s been a long day. Let’s do it!

I think we can agree that he’s fairly unattractive with his wide-gash mouth and gross protruding belly. So why’s he so damn seductive? Why does he get his own way so often? It takes willpower to pick Jabba off your shoulder, and place him down firmly behind you. That willpower thing, that’s just a little giant something I’ve been working on recently. In turns out you have to do stuff and repeat stuff for your brain to compute that you mean business. You have to keep doing stuff and keep repeating stuff for your brain to change, to morph into something better.

The other lieutenant is no great shakes, either. That one is almost as annoying as Jabba. Way too holier-than-thou. I can’t sit here all day necking green juices and exercising. I’ve got things to do. One day, I’ll brush them both off. The holy one can give Jabba some tips on how to smarten up a bit. Jabba can tell the holy one to loosen its vice-like grip. I’ll tiptoe off, wobbly at first – but then I’ll start to run with the unbelievable freedom of someone who’s finally found the straight, sure road, hidden all along in those unconquerable peaks and treacherous valleys.

Photo by Jay Ruzesky on Unsplash