In a few days, it will have been four months since I decided to make some big lifestyle changes. In these four months, I haven’t eaten red meat, pork, poultry and most dairy, and have been slowly adding increasingly challenging exercises. While it’s sad to think that I previously rarely stuck to any particular positive lifestyle change for more than a few weeks at a time (and that it took worsening of my Chronic Kidney Disease to finally seriously motivate myself), I don’t dwell on it; instead I pat myself on the back each day I choose to do something productive with my time. AND! I remind myself daily that it’s more than what I was doing four months ago.
Am I at optimum weight and health now? Nope LOL. Can I bench press a Buick? Ha, no. Am I totally pain free? No. But here are some “side effects” I’ve experienced by eating healthier and becoming more physically active:
- Approximate 20 pound weight loss (I have yet to find a place I can easily traverse to that has a wheelchair accessible scale, and I have to admit over the last year or so I yo-yo’d quite a bit, losing 10 pounds here and there then gaining it right back)
- More stable and predictable digestive system (those with neurogenic bowel issues especially, will appreciate this one)
- Increased energy and stamina
- Decreased pain issues (nerve, muscle and joint related)
- Decreased sleep issues (less insomnia)
- Overall feeling “good”, as in waking up in a good mood and maintaining that mood throughout the day
Has it been easy? Oh, heck no! There are days when I really don’t feel up to doing anything at all. And it isn’t because I don’t want to, sometimes (particularly for those of us who deal with chronic health problems) it just isn’t physically possible. So I do what I can on those days, even if it’s some stretching and maybe a few minutes of working with resistance bands. I believe that is a downfall for a lot of folks – if for a day or more you aren’t physically capable of keeping up a certain exercise routine, it’s very easy to talk yourself into permanently stopping, because you think, “What’s the point?” Well, the point is, treat each day as a new day. Don’t compare and berate yourself that today you are able to do less than what you did yesterday.
Then I get hit by the baking bug haha. I practically live in the kitchen – cooking… and eating is a HUGE part of our Filipino culture. I’m not about to give up my passion for baking, but I did have to get “smart” about it and make a conscious effort to minimize the “unhealthy” aspects of baked goods (such as cutting down on the fats and sugars and replacing them with suitable substitutes). Oh, that’s another thing. In these four months I have not deprived myself of the occasional yummy dessert. I believe this is also a downfall of many people who are “dieting” with good intentions. If you’re accustomed to having dessert on a regular basis, suddenly stripping yourself from that will, in my humble opinion, sabotage your efforts, no matter how sincere you are in your commitment to changing your eating habits.
I wish I could say I have a “one size fits all” formula to weight loss and exercise. But everyone’s needs and abilities are different. It’s taken me a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for me. It’s also a challenge at certain points because our bodies naturally plateau after a while, and we’ll stop losing weight (if that is your goal). So, adjustments need to be made on a regular basis.
I’d like to add that I am in no way an expert in diet, nutrition and exercise. I first consulted with my physician before beginning this journey. What I can eat and do may not work for you and your body, but if you’re serious about making a commitment to living healthier, I believe the first step is to consult with your doctor.
The first step is always the hardest, but it’s the only way to reach the second step.