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Healthy Monday: New York State Fair

Today's Healthy Monday message comes to us from psychologist, Rich O'Neill, PhD. You can hear his "Check Up from the Neck Up" commentaries each week on "Health Link on Air" radio, from 9 to 10 a.m. Sundays on WSYR FM-107.9.

Corn on the cob

O'neill, Richard sm

Richard O'Neill PhD

So you‘re cruising down the midway at the Fair. You and your fam and friends are laughing, funning around. All hot, thirsty and starving. Smell the sausages! Listen to the fries sizzling. Calling out: Eat me. Eat me. Then somebody walks by with that incredible round thing and you remember how it was last summer-- crunchy, greasy, hot, sweet. You say: “Where‘d you get that?!” He gives a head flick and mumbles “Öber dere. Dere gweat!!” And you haven‘t had one for a year!! But your doc's stick-in- the-mud voice in your head says, "your cholesterol‘s too high.”

But I‘m only 40. I haven‘t had a heart attack. Yeah I‘m a little squishy where ripped would be great but pretty good for over the big four-O. I‘m in shape.

Two seconds later you‘re looking at the cute kid behind the counter smiling in your eyes. Your bud, $20 in hand, says “How many blooming things do we want? You ate a whole one yourself last year big boy" -- and pats your gut -- "tire a little flat isn‘t it?"

Sure, Dad died of a heart attack, but he was 70. Why worry now?

You had a plan before you came, to eat good stuff, stay away from the junk. Well, onions are vegetables, you argue.

What do you do?

Hold your index and middle fingers up in a V. Do it with me now, for real. When you get to the Fair, do it in your head so you don‘t look too weird. This is your fork in the road. The moment of choice that makes your life healthy or not is the base of the V.

Win this one and you‘ll be stronger next time and might win that one too.

Index finger points to the automatic, the old habit triggered by the memory smell, taste, pleasure, the full belly; the middle finger to some vague goal of lower cholesterol; you can‘t see that, taste it, hear it, smell it.

We don‘t fear things years down the road. We make our habit choices based on what we feel, know, want NOW in the caveman brain. Unless… we remind ourselves of our long-term goals and make a real judgment and a real choice. Unless… we interrupt the old and connect to something we really want now.

So make the fight a fair one. Put some punch behind the reality of high cholesterol and heart attacks.

Here‘s my image when I‘m choosing French fries or a baked potato. Try it yourself.

Imagine all that grease on the blooming thing moving into your bloodstream, congealing into blobs blocking block your arteries; you see the blobs get bigger with each bite, then one blob breaks free and speeds down the tubes to your heart and you see the space is too narrow. It can‘t get through. The blood pressure builds . You feel a crushing weight and grab your chest with both hands, but there is nothing to hold on to. Vision fades. You're falling and can‘t do a thing. Your wife screams your name. Your kids cry.

No thanks.

I‘m gonna get myself some of that great roasted corn we just walked by, and a beer, a really cold, healthy, tasty dark one.

Your anxiety drops. On the way over you decide to do corn without butter. You can feel the hot ear in your hands, taste the sweet and crunchy. Decide to have another because its just a few calories and the yellow means there‘s great stuff called flava-something that helps you live longer, to see your grandkids on your lap, laughing, giving you a hug.

Don‘t forget the baked potato for a buck in the Horticulture Building, the one with the sand sculpture. This year they have sweet potatoes too! Yellow and orange. Good for us!

Listen to this week's "Check Up from the Neck Up" by Rich O'Neill PhD