I Need to be More Mindful of my Health in 2020

My journey through sudden health changes

I’ve always considered myself a fairly healthy person. For the most part. I don’t get sick more often than the normal person, I don’t sit around all day, and I try to eat healthily and take vitamin supplements. For 26 years that seemed to be working.

Obviously I’m not really healthy in a fitness sort of way. Intense exercising is not something I particularly enjoy, so I tend to do yoga or go on hikes. My job as a dog walker keeps me physically active during the week, but probably not as much as I need. I also really like cheeseburgers and I’m not into salads.

But most of the time, my body worked, I felt pretty good. So I just kept doing what I was doing.

I stopped drinking milk back in 2017 because for years it had been making me feel gross but I just kept drinking it because calcium. But I finally put my foot down and switched to drinking an alternative – almond milk first, now oat milk because it’s better for the environment.

I’d dealt with mild IBS since then as well, but with some dietary changes and increased fibre intake, I was feeling okay.

I think I got a little complacent.

Then in September of 2019, something changed.

A couple of weeks into the month I started getting indigestion, bloating, nausea, acid reflux. And, while with medication and watching food consumption it started to improve, things haven’t been getting better. December was rough, especially since the holidays generally lead to weird eating.

It’s now February and things have been slowly getting better, but I often feel like I’m at the whim of my stomach. Sometimes I don’t even know what triggers a bout of indigestion.

After talking with the doctor, I still don’t have concrete answers to what is causing these issues, but I do have things to do in the meantime.

My doctor is referring me to a dietitian, but for the present, I’m making a concerted effort to eat better.

It’s not as if I ate McDonald’s every day, but I do enjoy more carb-heavy foods like pasta and pizza. Instead, I need to focus on vegetables and whole foods in place of processed.

One recipe I tried recently and highly recommend is black bean stuffed sweet potato. I made it with sour cream because I’m not vegan and I like sour cream, and it was so tasty. And I think I need to do this more, instead of simply falling back on old favourites, getting adventurous with new recipes that incorporate healthier things I already like — like sweet potatoes.

It’s going to be a struggle long term because I do really like cheeseburgers, and when people think of “healthy” food, they tend to automatically think of salads — and I don’t really like salads. But I know now that I need to do it for the longterm care of my body. What I was doing before wasn’t as sustainable as I thought.

I think as long as I don’t get lazy with eating the same things over and over, keeping things new and exciting, I won’t backslide into bad habits too much. I hope.

The true test will be to see if I can stop snacking so much. I’ve got a big sweet tooth, so I tend to reach for sugary chocolatey things when I want a small bite in the middle of the day. And that’s fine in small quantities — I’m not going to completely deny myself happiness — but it needs to be much less than I’m doing now.

This was one thing my doctor emphasized when we talked. She knows I do yoga, but I need to start doing more cardio. Specifically, I need to do 150 minutes of decent cardio a week.

Now that wouldn’t be difficult for people who like to exercise regularly — jogging, CrossFit, etc. But, since I’m not really into intense exercise, cardio has been something that I don’t think about. I guess it’s going to have to be something I think about now.

Winter in Canada is not great for outdoor exercise unless you like skiing, snowboarding, skating, and other winter sporty things. Jogging is an option, but do you really want to jog in a blizzard?

Of course, there are Zoomba/pilates/aquafit/etc. classes that are readily available and mostly affordable. But, for the same reason I do yoga at home, I find myself focusing too much on how I compare to others rather than my own performance, so that’s not something that would make me feel good. So anything I do right now, I’d rather do at home.

I have a couple of options for at-home exercise, so in the coming weeks, I’ll be working on getting myself into a good routine. Hopefully.

My problem is that I tend to be motivated for a couple of days — the excitement of finally getting healthy is still fresh — but I quickly descend into apathy because it’s hard. There will be a certain amount of determination need to keep it up, and I’ll do my best.

This might sound strange, but in some way, I feel kind of relieved that my doctor told me I need to do these things. It’s as if I was secretly waiting for someone to finally “kick me in the pants” to get going on taking better care of my health.

After months of feeling bad, I’m ready to do something to try and feel better, even if it’s simply a change in diet and lifestyle.

Written by

Writer || INFJ || Wellness junkie and chronic oversharer. jgoldsmithwrites.com/

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