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The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.

~ Mark Twain

Mark Twain (1835 – 1910) was the pen name of Samuel Clemens. He was an American writer, publisher, entrepreneur and lecturer. His two most famous novels were Tom Sawyer (1876) and Huckleberry Finn (1885). I love Twain’s quotes because his sharp wit is arresting. I’m sure his commentary on the current presidential campaign in the USA between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton would be entertaining, to say the least.

When I first saw this quote, it caused me to pause because not long ago I said a very similar thing to my family physician. The doctor offered to send me to a dietician to get a diet to lose weight. My response, “Not necessary, doctor, I won’t eat anything that tastes remotely good.” He looked at me quizzically for a moment, so I clarified. “You see, doctor, everything I love to eat causes weight gain, so it follows that whatever I don’t like must be good for me!” He thought that was funny. Sadly, I was serious.

I have battled weight gain since I was in my mid-twenties. I’ve been on every diet imaginable, tried rigorous exercise routines, only to gain the weight back. Funny, I remember as a teenager being depressed about how skinny I was. One day in church, I said a private prayer, “Please dear Lord, put some meat on these bones!” Wow! Can I ever pray well! Perhaps it’s time to reverse the prayer!

As a result, Mark Twain’s words struck a chord within me. It struck an entire symphony! It’s not my fault that my metabolism is sluggish. But it is my fault that I have spent most of my life eating the wrong foods and, even worse, living a sedentary lifestyle. I hate most exercise, yet I also find ways to avoid forms of exercise that I almost enjoy.

Of what benefit is it to work hard on my writing if I’m living in a way that will undoubtedly shave years off my life expectancy? Insane, right? I believe it is just that.

Knowing what needs to be done, I should be motivated to begin right away. I can no longer afford to procrastinate. I believe I’m facing the greatest challenge of my life. To accomplish my goal would eliminate most, if not all, of my diabetic medications, make me feel well physically, energize me, and add years to my life.

I have a strong work ethic, but until now I find the willpower lacking to put myself on the road to success. My faith tells me that this is the precise moment in my life to put myself in the hands of the Lord. To proceed with the necessary steps every single day in the belief that when I falter (and I will), He will pick me up and carry me until I can regain my footing.

Dear Lord, I cannot do this without your help.

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

16 thoughts on “HOW DO YOU WANT TO LIVE? #RRBC”

  1. Oh John,
    I know exactly where you are and can say I have fought that battle, or better more, I am still fighting that battle. One of the things I have done is signed up at the fitness centre near my home. It is only ten minutes away and I have committed myself to going there at least twice a week, since I have to pay for it.
    I also stopped eating meat everyday. That knocked me out for a while but I have adjusted. I do enjoy a glass of dry red wine in the evening. So I cut out my desserts after a meal.
    Oh another thing I’ve done is I got the Pacer app on my iPhone. It tracks my steps. Right now it is set at 5000 steps per day which makes me get up from my desk and walk around my office or go upstairs and walk around my house or do something that has me moving.
    Sometimes I don’t make it to the fitness studio because of sudden problems that pop up in my day but I don’t get angry about it. I know the commitment is there, so I move on to the next day or next week when I have it scheduled again. However I have scheduled set days for fitness centre. Usually Tuesday and Friday.
    Wishing you all the best and thanks for bringing up this timely subject. We writers tend to glue ourselves to our desk and never get up.
    Oh, I forgot to say, since I have been doing these things my blood pressure has dropped tremendously. My heart rate too. It has been almost a year and a half since I set up my good nutrition diet that is good for me.
    Shalom aleichem,


  2. Thanks for sharing your story, John. I think many people can relate to your journey. With limited ability I struggled for some time to find an exercise routine that I actually enjoyed enough to stick with. This is key, in my opinion. I discovered kayaking during the summer and then tried using a rowing machine the remainder of the year. I was so thrilled to be able to do it, for mind and body. My sister loves it too. Fortunately, I’ve never struggled with weight issues…knock on wood. 🙂 My husband says I’m lucky because I love veggies, fruit, and chicken. But I love chocolate and potato chips too. I wish you all the best. 🙂


    1. Thanks, Natalie. I appreciate your contribution today. Everyone has their challenges in life and I’m glad you found exercise that you can stick with. I like walking… until my hips start hurting. But I need to do that every day and gradually increase it. I did it once for 6 months – I can do it again. I agree with your husband. I honestly wish that I hated all the foods that I love to eat – the ones that cause weight gain. But I have no magic lamp or genie, so I must reach deep and find that discipline. I appreciate your kind words and support!


  3. Mummy dear friend, knowing you for over fifty years I can not find the words to express my feelings on how you chose to share such intimate and personal struggle with your weight. I do not like the blame you put on yourself when you said, it is my fault”, that eaten wrong foods and live a sedentary life style. I know that you know that many people enjoy eating unhealthy foods. Also, at your age and stage you deserve and earned the right to live a more relaxed and leisure lifestyle. I also know that your strong faith and God’s heavy hand (kick in the ass) will help you to take the necessary steps and action to live a healthier lifestyle. Love You Bro, Frank


    1. Great to have you chime in on this one, Brother Frank! I’m not putting myself down – I’m calling myself out. I have put myself on notice. I realize I’m not the only person who struggles with this issue, but if I wish to have many more productive years ahead of me, I need to face the challenge right now. Thanks for your great support!


  4. I cannot stop laughing John! 😀 Not at you, but at what we have to go through to remain healthy. You are not alone John. I have to constantly watch myself too. I used to be very athletic, I was an athlete when I was younger, yes. :). So, these days, I have started, gradually, going back to my life of exercises. Something simple, and I don’t deny myself of the good foods I like, I just eat less of it. 🙂


    1. Yes, Joy, there’s a lot to be said about Aristotle’s “Golden Mean”. Diets that are too strict are not sustainable – and I’m not going to start training to run marathons either. But the status quo is not acceptable either. Discipline is key. Thanks for sharing in the discussion!


  5. Good post, John. I have also fought weight my whole life. I found a diet that works for me. It is real simple. When eating protean you avoid carbs. When eating carbs you avoid protean. What this means is meat and veggies or salad. Pasta without meat. I have also eliminated beef totally (20 years ago) and try to avoid meat every other day. I do exercise. Latest medical issues have made keeping weight off a challenge. Always work to do.


    1. Brother John; I hear what you are saying but I say eat, drink and be merry! Life is too short. I also am of the belief that when your time is up it’s up no matter what you try and do. We are all given just so much time on this earth ………some more than others as I’m sure yo well know. However; quality of life is another matter to be discussed at a later date. Peace. Brother Richard


      1. Hey, Brother Rick! So good to hear from you. As John Howell already stated, yours is a valid point of view. But my doctors are not swayed and, I must admit, I do feel lousy most of the time. So I must begin without more delay. Thanks for your support!


  6. You’re orchestrating a symphony here for me as well John! 😦 It’s the exercise part that’s hardest for me with a chronic respiratory disease that impairs stamina, through inadequate blood oxygen. Team that with a lifestyle that circumvents exercise now, as everything I like to do most involves a keyboard, or a TV screen… Add joint pain into the equation and it’s easy to see where my weight problem is headed, especially now I’m widowed and mostly given up alcohol (just the odd glass of wine or cider every now and then), so I’m left with very few vices to indulge in! 🙂
    I’ve always had a reasonably balanced diet, but have a chocolate addiction that I’m never going to ditch, so I’ve made that into a high quality, low intake mitigation that is letting me steadily lose the odd pound here and there. But it’s too slow and I know it.
    The one diet regime that works for me is the ‘don’t have it in the house’ lifestyle. I’m talking naughty. but nice things like cakes and biscuits, crisps and sugary snacks. Also fried food – I haven’t thrown my frying pans out, but I only use tiny amounts of oil or not at all when I do use them. It also helps that I do grocery shopping online mostly, as that stops all the yummy temptation as you’re walking round the aisles at the supermarket. Making my own bread (via a bread machine, the best kitchen equipment are invented!) also cuts down on food ‘baddies’, as does cutting down drastically on potato and pasta consumption.
    You find your willpower as you can – doing down a dress size and feeling a little more energetic are small victories along the way. As is the bonus of getting out and about in clean and beautiful surroundings regularly. I’m getting there, and I’m very glad you are doing so well too, Jon! 😀


    1. Thanks for sharing this, Jan. Funny, I stopped using my bread machine because I was eating more bread – it was so yummy! Perhaps you’ve found bread machine recipes that produce less harmful, good tasting bread?
      We are in precisely the same boat. I know that the only way I’m going to build my stamina and increase my energy levels is by setting aside time every day to exercise as much as I can and increase it gradually. It is the starting that’s so painful!


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