Happy Birthday to Me!
Sunday, July 05, 2015
Today is my 48th birthday.
Last December, I was diagnosed with fatty liver disease. My blood pressure and cholesterol (especially triglycerides) were out of control. My breast cancer risk was estimated at higher than average due to family history and a lifetime of obesity and sedentary behavior. My liver doctor offered me the option of bariatric surgery, which would also cure my insulin resistance within days. Although my mother and brother have both undergone gastric bypass, this still came as a bit of a shock to me. I had always felt that I didn't really need that kind of intervention. But, the truth was, I was in chronic pain from fibromyalgia and arthritis and dealing with several health issues that could kill me in my condition. I could barely move, and I was unhappy all the time!
I don't know what changed. I had been talking about getting back into eating well and getting some exercise for some time. Somehow, I just hadn't gotten around to it.
In 2011, I had begun to see a Doctor who taught me how to eat healthy with some pretty simple rules--no hydrogenated oils, no additives, no sweetners, low carb, high protein and as much organics as I could afford. At that time, I took off about 46 pounds through her guidance, some physical therapy and lots of determination. But around my birthday that year, I started slipping back into bad habits, namely lots and lots of simple carbs. Over the next two years, I slowly gained everything back and then some.
It didn't happen quickly. But it did happen. Last summer, my landlord of 10 years decided he wanted to "do something else with the property" and asked me to move out. The last year since has been the worst year of my adult life. I intentionally let myself eat a lot of foods I knew weren't healthy for me in a desperate attempt to handle the stress, depression and anxiety caused not only by the move, but also a 3-year relationship with a worsening alcoholic, losing my car, buying another car that turned out to be a lemon and not being able to afford the repairs, losing half my income and moving into an apartment that turned out to be a completely condemnable dump.
So, what turned me around? I honestly don't know. Maybe it was the stress of trying to handle all that while always being in pain and on medications with side effects. Maybe this turned out to be the only thing I could get any control over in my life. So, I broke up with Ben and Jerry and got to work.
It really doesn't seem so hard, now that I have gotten back into good choices and habits. I still have a long way to go, but being healthy, and especially eating healthy has become a no-brainer, and the central focus of my life.
I have less pain, more energy and more confidence! If I can tackle a lifetime of bad habits and multiple chronic and life-threatening health issues, I can do anything. I can deal with a horrible landlord, a bad car, no money, guiding my partner into recovery (or standing up for myself to insist that improvement needs to be made!), whatever...
I don't know when I turned that corner, but I realized today that somehow, it has become natural for me to eat healthy. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the rest of it.
So far, I am liking 48. Let's see how far I can get before 49.