I wish I was as “fat” now as I thought I was in high school! Seriously, I would sell one of my kidneys to fit into my favorite pair of jeans from back in the day: Levi’s Silvertab button-fly boyfriend jeans, size 13/14. Ahhhh…..they were beautiful! I know some of you readers have a pair of jeans that come to mind instantly now don’t you?! I thought they were the epitome of cool. I held on to them for years, thinking (daydreaming mostly) I would get back into them one day……….
I have never been thin. I have struggled my entire life with my weight and it is NOT something I like to speak publicly about. So this is a REAL facing of my fears moment. Those size 13/14 jeans were the closest to being thin that I have ever been, aside from that time I was a svelte 2T of course.
Like many young women, I have based my value on my weight. The lowest times in my life is when I have been the most overweight. When I am happy and taking care of myself properly, it shows! I have never really been one to try fad diets or pills and stick to it. I have done Weight Watchers before and it did work, for a short time. I have also taken raspberry ketone supplements, which I swear have worked too! But losing weight isn’t something that you do once and call it good. You don’t have to lose weight to be happy. You don’t necessarily have to lose weight to be healthy. Losing weight, getting healthy, and being happy are lifestyle CHOICES.
For 20 years, Laura Kunzansky, a Harvard School of Public Health associate professor, followed more than 6,000 men and women aged 25-74. The study, released in 2007, found that emotional vitality- a sense of enthusiasm, of hopefulness, of engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance- appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Source: www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/happiness-stress-heart-disease/
If a positive outlook can have this kind of effect on one of the leading causes of death, then imagine what else it can do! When we’re seeing the glass as half-full, we take better care of ourselves. It becomes a habit, a way of life and it perpetuates itself into all aspects of our lives.
This, however, does not mean we are not subject to genetics. Though there are some that disagree, but that is another topic to write about! We cannot control all of our circumstances BUT we can control how we respond to them. Notice I said respond where most people would have said react. There IS difference. This is something I have learned in the last 2 years and also something I struggle to remember at times. A response is well-thought out, typically calm and non-confrontational. A reaction is generally a knee-jerk movement and the consequences are not often thought about. It is a more in-the-moment thing.
Let’s say you’re at work and you have a co-worker who is really a nightmare to work with, she’s always up in your business and pushing your buttons. If you react to her you may get angry, sweaty, tense up, and say things you’ll likely wish you didn’t. Your body will follow suit and react in its own way. Your blood pressure will probably spike causing your heart to race and you may breath shallowly. This is putting undue stress on your organs and affecting your health! And it’s probably an every day occurrence if you’ve worked with some people like I have.
If you respond to her by taking a deep breath, thinking about the entirety of the situation, even excusing yourself from sharing space with her, then you are doing your health a huge favor. If you stop reacting to her consistently, you may even help her find a new way to behave. Think about this the next time you have stress in your life. I am not saying that in some circumstances you won’t need to stand up for yourself, but do it wisely. Over time, the effects of all the stress in your life will take a toll on your body and lower your immunity. Some people even contend that it causes certain diseases! Personally, I believe this to be true. If we take care of our bodies, they will take care of us.
So, with that being said, it is with a honest assessment that I can say I am NOT taking very good care of my body lately. I had lost quite a bit of weight when I got divorced in 2012 but the scale has fluctuated over the past 2 years. I’ve had a LOT of stress and I did not respond well to it, at all. I reacted by using food as a comfort, watching movies and relaxing instead of getting on the treadmill or walking outside, and generally lacking concern for the consequences of this behavior.
I like to consider myself a positive person. I bet if you ask most people who know me, they will tell you that I am positive. BUT I am one of those people who also lets myself off the hook quite often when I feel like I have a good reason, and boy do I have a lot of good reasons! However, I am not going to dwell on the negative things I have let myself do. In true positive fashion, I am going to look forward and vow to do things differently!
One of the biggest steps in recovery or personal growth of any sort is to first recognize that you are off course, YOU need to change, YOU need to regain control. Food and my emotions are NOT going to own me anymore. We all have bad days, months, or even years! But it is our choice to let the GOOD outweigh the bad.
A real turning point for me was the loss of my father last April to Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). The ONLY cure to date for this disease is a lung transplant. My father fought valiantly to the end. He got his lungs but his heart had sustained too much damage from all the extra work it had to do while he waited for his lungs; it could not take the strain of the surgery. I can’t help but wonder if he’d gotten the lungs sooner that he might still be alive. So in crawling out of my grief, I have decided to champion organ donation as a way to give back in the name of my father. I have always been an organ donor but it obviously has taken on a new meaning for me. It hit me a couple of months ago, while feeling down and disgusted by my weight gain, that what is the point of me even being a organ donor if I am not making sure my organs would be suitable for someone else?!?!
We all have our reasons for losing weight, getting healthy, and living a more positive life. For most of us is because we want to be able to keep up with with our children, walk them down the aisle, and play with our grandchildren. Those are my reasons as well, but I have the added responsibility of wanting to save someone’s life if need be.
I am vowing to live a more consistently positive life because it IS good for my health, it IS good for my children’s well-being, and one day, it MAY be good for a stranger’s health!
Here are some ways you can start adding more positivity into your life:
- Be careful of who you surround yourself with. Some people are truly emotional vampires. If there is someone in your life who thrives on negativity and drama, you may need to find ways to draw back from that relationship. Make time to build bonds with positive people, people who are doing the things you want to be doing, and are encouraging you to learn and grow.
- Limit your exposure to the news. While it is great to be informed, the news can saturate you with negativity, anxiety, and drama. Which leads me to number 3…
- Limit your time on social media. The news is not just on at 5 and 11 p.m. anymore. It is in your face at any given moment. It’s not just the news either. Social media in general can tend to be so dramatic and energy sapping, not to mention time consuming!
- Exercise regularly. I always feel SO much better about life after I have exercised! It doesn’t have to be a full workout every time either. A brisk walk in the sunshine will do wonders for your health and your soul. I believe some movement is better than no movement!
- Take time for Y-O-U! Make time every day to do something for yourself. Even if it is just reading a chapter of a book before you go to bed.
- Try meditation. 5 minutes is really all you need and believe it or not, you will notice a difference. I will start doing this again because I noticed a huge boost in my attitude and patience level just by taking 10-15 minutes in the morning and devoting it to peace and quiet.
- Breathing exercises. When I am feeling stressed and negative, my chest gets SO tight and the only thing that really helps is taking a few minutes to breath, deeply. Ideally you will draw your breath in through your nose for 5-7 seconds, hold for 5-7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for 5-7 seconds. In the moment, I don’t always follow this. I generally breath as deep as I can through my mouth, hold for a second, and push it out through my mouth. Doing this several times when my chest is tight really helps me. There is a new school of thought that says the way we breath may actually be very important to the outcome of our health. I plan to research this and get back to you!
- Write down your reasons why you want to be positive and healthy. Post them where you will see it daily. Make copies if you have to!