Health is something we like to ignore until something’s gone wrong and needs repair. Not many of us actively think about health in a preventative way. I sure never did.
But I’m starting to come around. I’m one of the lucky ones. I have good genes, my doctor says. There’s no diabetes or thyroid or heart disease or other issues in my family. My grandparents lived long healthy lives and both parents are alive and healthy.
I’m a vegetarian (for the last 2 years – just grossed myself out of eating any meat) so even though I had healthy numbers before, they dropped even more last time I went thanks to this change. My readings are all good – blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, etc.
That doesn’t mean something might not go wrong, though. However, I’m not one of those people who likes to focus on my health much. It’s hard.
I don’t like them. I’m 41 and I have never gotten over my fear or embarrassment of having a pap smear done or a breast exam or anything else. I don’t like being examined, period.
But I go. Every year. Ever since I was a child. It was just routine in my life. Annual checkups ensure that IF something IS wrong, then we are able to stop it as soon as possible.
I have friends and family members who avoid going to the doctor until something is wrong. That would scare the crap out of me. I’m a “what if” kinda girl.
IF I sat there and waited 3 years to get a pap smear – and then found out I had an advanced stage cancer that could have been treated easily early on – I would hate myself.
Our health is not just something we do for ourselves. It’s something for our loved ones. My kids mean the world to me and how could I look them in the eye and say, “Yes, if Mommy had gone 3 years earlier, I’d still get to live – but I was too embarrassed to get an exam, so I now have to leave you?”
That will never happen. I’ll get poked, prodded and probed as much as it takes if it means more time with my babies on this Earth.
I could have had a section here that was “diet,” but that’s a dirty word in my opinion. For years I had guilt issues with food. I diet yo yo’d. I lost. I gained back more. I lost. I gained back MORE.
What makes me mad is that if you’re overweight and NOT on a diet, people expect to find out why. And they expect you to change your mind and go on a diet in the near future.
No thank you. I went to a nutrition counselor when I was 38 or 39 – I originally thought it was a last ditch effort to lose weight AGAIN. But her whole approach was not about dieting. I saw her in person here, but she does have online lessons for a healthy lifestyle balance.
What’s different about this for me is that it’s not about NOT eating certain BAD foods. There’s no such thing. Once that pressure was off…gone were my days of dieting, gone were the days when I hid sodas and frosting under my bed (oh yes I did), and gone were the days when I counted calories.
What took its place were days when I just basically eat a lot better because I know that if I DO want what others typically consider a “bad” food – I have it. As much as I want. You might picture a plate piled high, but really the opposite is true for me.
My nutritionist had a plan that taught me how to stop eating at the perfect time. Not when “full,” but just when I wasn’t hungry anymore. She gave me a scale from 0-10 and I had to practice it for awhile before it became second nature and habitual for me.
So back to “bad” foods. I’ll go out to dinner at a restaurant and order something cheesy with sauce and calories and a dessert to die for. But I only eat until not hungry. You’d be amazed at how LITTLE that is. In fact, it lessens over time. Initially, when you first start this training, you think it’s a lot more than it really is. You eat fast, and what you find out later is, you were eating to the verge of stuffed.
For me, I have these levels:
- ravished and about to faint (rarely if ever)
- starving (like a day out shopping and no time to eat yet)
- hungry (stomach’s growling)
- I could eat (starting to feel hunger a bit, but I could wait)
- not really hungry (just comfortable)
- not hungry at all (I could happily turn down any food)
- full (I definitely ate enough)
- stuffed (I ate so much I need my Mentholatum to get me through this one)
What I learned is to wait until I’m actually truly hungry to eat and how to stop when I’m not really hungry anymore. When I first started, I used to eat whenever I was not really hungry and stop when I was stuffed. That’s a HUGE difference in the amounts you eat!
I never get stuffed anymore. I HAVE taken myself to the full meter once in a blue moon – but usually it was because I accidentally let myself get to starving mode so I ate too fast. It’s very rare though.
Whenever I practice this at a restaurant, what happens is I eat about 3 bites of my main meal and have about 2 bites of dessert. The waitress almost always apologizes when she sees this, thinking I didn’t like my meal. No one can fathom that 1.) their serving sizes are WAY too big and 2.) someone might be perfectly content eating just enough to be satisfied.
It makes everyone uncomfortable, too – not just waiters and restaurant managers. My friends and family keep prodding me with, “Wasn’t it good? You didn’t eat very much! Do you want some of mine instead? Are you on a diet?”
This is where Confidence crosses over and affects your success in the nutritional success area. Confident that you’re doing what’s right for YOU.
And by the way – the year I embraced this is the first year in probably 15-17 years that I stopped gained and started losing weight (very slowly – but it was a start).
What do I eat? Well for the last 2 years, I’ve been a vegetarian. Not by choice. I just grossed myself out of meat. I literally grieved the loss of meat for a good year probably. No more of Mom’s buttermilk fried chicken? No more filet mignon? Nope.
Now it was easy for me because my parents raised me on home cooked Southern meals, which also meant lots of fresh vegetables like fresh picked peas or okra. This meal below is typical for me – Southern fried potatoes, black eyed peas w/okra and onions, collards, and cornbread (this was a good luck New Years meal).
I love all sorts of fruits and vegetables. And the fake meat (soy) stuff is better now than it was. If I’m craving fast food, I’ll go buy a Whataburger cheeseburger with no meat, come home and fry up a fake hamburger, and put it on there. Voila! I just got a fast food meal.
For a long while I replaced meat with cheese. Got kind of tired of it, so now I’m heavy into vegetable plates. I also drink Cokes. Not diet. Regular. And I eat desserts. I love food.
Had to replace “exercise” with the word movement because I hate exercise. Exercise was when I used to go to 24 hour fitness at 3 AM for a training session. Exercise means long, boring walks on a treadmill . I hate it. It means sweating and hurting and being out of breath and being miserable.
Movement, on the other hand, means I’m doing something. I happen to be getting some exercise in, true – but it’s not about that. It’s about doing something in an active way.
At the same time I had my nutritional breakthrough, I started being “Active Tiff.” Some of you may remember that phase. I was so excited. I walked at the zoo, I went roller skating – and fell and busted my knee. That took me out of commission for a LONG, long time. Safety first, people! I think I was overdoing it back then.
So now I am starting a new movement phase. I’m not making myself buy memberships (even to the zoo). What I personally love is my Kinect video game console. I have tons of living room space, so I can do these active movement games in front of my TV with air conditioning and convenience.
My favorite is Dance Central. And oh. my. god. I cannot dance, people! I am atrocious. But I had bought Dance Central 1 and me and the kids loved it so much. Then I just recently bought Dance Central 2 – haven’t done much with it yet but as soon as school is out in a about a week and a day, I will – I’ll also be over this upper respiratory illness by then.
For me, movement is going to be about increasing my cardio so I can keep up with everyone else. I can walk all day without tiring out. But something like 4 flights of stairs – I can do, and I can do it at the same pace others walk, and you wouldn’t know I’m out of breath (but inside I’m going OH MY GOD!).
I want to change that – make it effortless, but not by making it a chore, either. I want to move more. I sit all day on my couch working on my computer. I sit two hours a day for carpool. That’s too much sitting!
But don’t tell me to walk outside. I hate heat and stray dogs. Don’t tell me to join a gym. Not gonna waste the money. I want to just be more active with my family. That’s it. And my kids and I have a blast doing Dance Central together.
Yep mental is a state of health, too. Stress is a big killer – or at the very least – a happiness killer. So you just need to work on getting your stress under control if you’re a stress magnet. I’m not. I am pretty easy going in most situations.
I’m not the type to get stressed over looking good, over traffic jams, or long lines. What stresses me out are money deadlines (like tuition for my kids’ school) and relationship woes. And of course if anything is ever wrong with my babies.
Otherwise, I’m good. I know people who are on edge all day over the littlest things. I don’t know the best option for these people. It just takes a big shift in mindset – one from letting everything bug you to one where you realize that in the grand scheme of things, a traffic jam isn’t the end of the world. Standing in line 10 minutes longer isn’t going to kill you.
You control your mindset. Not a massage you get for stress relief. Not a book you read that tells you hypnotize yourself to get rid of stress. All of that might work – I’m not saying it doesn’t – but it’s really boiling down to mindset and what you allow. A massage is a temporary patch – you want a forever solution, and that has to be the way you view stressful things, period.
In my middle age, I’m starting to calm down about a LOT of things that used to rile me up. Even people making me mad aren’t really that important when I think about it, so their situation doesn’t rub off on me as much or as easily.
When it comes to health, I’m fairly happy. I don’t feel like I have any red flags, but I’m cautious about it all at the same time. I work on making myself a better person, just as I do with marketing and parenting and everything else in life.
That’s all we can do, right?