Because you can't stay 25 forever
Sunday, May 06, 2012
Why it is important for me to get healthy NOW and why I don't want to put it off
This is something I have touched upon before and I have meant to blog about eventually. But I might as well do it now since it's a part of the 100 Days of Summer challenge to blog about it.
When I was 23, I went on Accutane* to treat my severe acne. This was the first acne treatment that had ever worked for me and its effects have lasted. One of the side effects of Accutane is an increase in triglyceride and cholesterol levels. My trigylycerides and cholesterol skyrocketed when I was on Accutane and by the time I finished with my 5 month treatment, I think my triglycerides were ~300 mg/dL (normal is under 200). Part of the reasons why my levels skyrocketed so high is that my baseline levels were pretty high thanks to my genetic predisposition.
I have family history of high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and, well, pretty much everything. This was my first wake-up call. I realized that when I got older, I'd be fighting all these issues since all my older relatives had high cholesterol/high blood pressure and were on medication to treat it. I realized that I was fighting an uphill battle but if I made certain changes NOW, I'd be in a better position than if I didn't change my diet and exercise habits.
When I approached my 25th birthday, I noticed something. I started to notice that I packed on fat in places I didn't before. Ever since I was young, I was fat but my fat tended to accumulate in my hips, thighs, and buttocks. Now, I noticed more fat was sitting around my middle. I knew that fat around the middle was a bad health indicator and I kind of freaked out about it. That was wake-up call #2.
That was all part of the reason why I lost weight, started to eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables, and started exercising regularly in 2005. Of course, I also wanted to be skinny and look good. But vanity was only one part of my original motivation.
After I turned 26, I started to notice something else. My metabolism was different now. I couldn't eat the same kinds of foods I used to be able to eat (ahem, fast food) without feeling awful or getting horribly sick. I also couldn't eat as much as I used to. "No, no, no!" I thought to myself, "I'm getting old." (haha, ridiculous I know but that's how I felt at the time. Oh the silliness of my twenties).
Then life got in the way and I gained, lost, gained, and then lost again. But during that entire time, I knew how bad it was for me that I was carrying around extra weight. I've just recently lost the weight and have entered maintenance mode. But even with the weight reduction and increased exercise, my cholesterol levels are still high. I had a full metabolic panel done recently and my cholesterol was at 182 mg/dL. Normal is 200 so I'm just kind of skating by there. Unfortunately, my LDL (bad cholesterol) tends to be high (113 mg/dL where 20-100 is normal) and my HDL (good cholesterol) low (40 mg/dL with 40-60 being normal). I just can't catch a break! My triglycerides appear to be well within the normal range. So finally, some good news!
As if trying to being healthy for health's sake isn't a good enough reason, I now have an additional one. I got married last year so I am now a part of a family of 2. There is someone else who needs me and I have to take care of myself because of that. And eventually, we are going to expand our family and my future children will need me to be at my healthiest. I want to be the healthiest I can be before I get pregnant to give my future kids the best health start they can get. Honestly, I'd like it if I were one of those pregnant ladies who still go jogging or to the gym when they look like they're ready to pop. I'm so impressed by those women and I want to be one of them in the future.
Life will get crazier when the kids do arrive. If exercise and good nutrition are habits now, then I will be more likely to keep up with them after I become a mom. Then I can also set a good example for my future children. Things are just going to get harder in the future so I've got to take care of myself now. Why waste the present?
*If you or someone you know is considering Accutane, it works but it has boatloads of side effects (including psychological) so you should really weigh the pros and cons before making the decision to take it. You should not make this decision lightly.