I had a system, and it made me happy. Then the USS Mercy, a hospital ship for the Navy, siphoned off so many staff from the cafeteria at the Naval Hospital where I work that my perfect lunch disappeared, along with the staff. Every morning for years, I’d cut up slices of turkey, add four tablespoons of dried parmesan cheese, top it off with my favorite salad dressing, shut the lid on my big Tupperware bowl, and head to work. At lunch time, I’d mosey over to the cafeteria and buy fresh lettuce and assorted chopped vegetables. Back in my office, I’d mix it all up and enjoy my perfect lunch. Many of the young doctors I worked with marveled at my healthy lunch and pined to be as disciplined in their eating habits.salad-677910__180

But with most of the cafeteria staff deployed on humanitarian missions on the Mercy, the salad bar is gone. Now I must clean and chop my own lettuce and vegetables. This may not seem like a big deal, but I hate to cook, and adding even one more chore to my weekly routine feels burdensome. Sometimes, when I can’t stand the thought of cutting and washing lettuce, I buy salad in a bag, which is about three times as costly as purchasing a whole head of lettuce. God bless the US Navy, but I want our salad bar back!

In the meantime, I’m adjusting. I’m doing what needs to be done to maintain my healthy, affordable lunch instead of eating the host of other foods available on base or buying expensive prepared salads and completely blowing my budget. I have numerous systems to maintain my health and wellness, but I can’t control external factors. When outside forces change, I have to change too. Maximizing my health not only requires planning, it demands flexibility, and so I’m doing my best to roll with the punches.


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