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Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.

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woman sitting at her desk

Health Non-Negotiables

My days have gotten so busy lately, with mounting work responsibilities colliding with ever-present personal responsibilities. And since I'm one of those people who gets easily distracted, once I sit down at my desk I know I'd better stay put, lest I lose my train of thought. (I know. This is counter to what I wrote about how bad sitting is for your health. I’m trying to change that; it's on my list.)

All the busyness and the consequent sitting brought me to my low point the other day. I sat down at my desk to work at around 8:00 AM, and the next thing I knew, it was 2:00 PM. Yikes. I hadn't eaten lunch, but strangely I wasn't hungry. Instead, I was driven to finish up one project so I could move onto the next, yet I realized in order the proverbial car running, I had to stop and refuel.

But I still didn’t want to move; instead, I wished for a genie to appear with a glass of water and a capsule to swallow; a capsule packed with all the good nutrients to last me until dinner.

Alas, it was not to be. Instead I headed into the kitchen in search of something to keep my energy up; something that didn't require me to stop, and actually prepare. What I ended up with was some store-roasted sliced turkey I had purchased a few days before in an attempt (albeit an ill-fated one) to be able to make some easy and quick turkey sandwiches for lunch. But a sandwich would require work – too much work that day - so I just grabbed the turkey and headed back to my desk, lonely dry slices on the plate.

You can guess what happened next (or maybe you can't). The dog followed me in, sat by my feet, whimpering, and as I tried to type and eat the turkey, it broke into tiny little pieces, its remnants scattered along my keyboard and on my floor. It was the highlight of my dog's day no doubt, but certainly not mine.

It was at that moment that I made myself a promise: Never again would I try to eat lunch at my desk. I'd stop long enough to eat something nutritious; and I'd eat it in my kitchen. Lunch, which I need to keep up my energy and keep my brain sharp, is now a health non-negotiable.

This Matters> I kind of like that term, health non-negotiable. It puts everything it its place, neatly prioritizing the necessary things and allowing you to be your own boss, in a sense. It's those things you don't let anything get in the way of. It takes a real emergency or disaster to fool with a health non-negotiable. (One thing that helps secure the non-negotiable status is to write it down on your calendar as if it was a 'real' appointment. I try to do this with exercise, thinking of it as a "meeting outside the office.")

Along exercise and now, lunch, I have my other health non-negotiables: Breakfast, flossing and brushing my teeth, enough sleep and of course, a little bit of dark chocolate each day. The big health benefits - both physically and psychologically - make these real, true priorities.

And then there are those health non-negotiable wannabes, things that are important that I wish I could figure out a way to a). make time for and/or b). learn to do better: More vacation, less stress, more time for family, gardening, crafts, movies, friends and reading… the list is simply too long.

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