Today’s category: “Lighten Myself.” One disclaimer up front – none of this is new or particularly insightful, but it’s worth putting it down to remind myself of why it is so important to me.
My mission to Lighten Myself is not all about the number on the scale. As a matter of fact, I have no idea what I weigh right now, as the only scale I have with me is the one for weighing our luggage (or any fish we might catch).
It’s about respecting myself enough to take care of the one and only body I have.
I’m not kidding myself; I know I am overweight. Going by what I weighed when I left on the trip, my BMI was 32.9, and anything over 30.0 is considered “obese.” According to an online BMI calculator, I would need to lose 45 pounds just to be at the absolute top of the “normal” range.
What I need to work on is the disconnect between my mind and my body. I know, without a doubt, what would work to make me lighter and healthier.
I need to get regular sleep. Besides the obvious benefit of being well-rested and alert, getting enough sleep allows my body to rejuvenate itself. Sleep helps reduce stress hormones (that can also affect weight gain/loss), boosts seratonin, reduces inflammation, keeps my heart healthy, and may help me live longer. I know all this.
So why do I find myself staying up late over and over again? Part of it is that feeling that I haven’t gotten enough done during the day, though I often find that I am spinning my wheels because I am so tired. Part of it is habit. Either way, it’s not healthy. I need to have a set sleep schedule and stick to it.
To top it off, I have sleep apnea and I snore like crazy. I have a CPAP machine, but I don’t use it every night. I have all kinds of excuses – it’s not comfortable, it leaks, I can’t sleep in a position I like – but when I don’t use it, I am hurting David’s sleep (because he wakes up when I snore and/or shakes me when I stop breathing) as well as my own health.
I have never in my life exercised consistently. Not proud of it, believe me… just keeping it real.
Yet I know all the benefits of exercise. It improves mood, fights disease, boosts energy, strengthens bones, helps you sleep, improves your skin. Strength training (especially of the largest muscles of the body) makes you stronger, increases metabolism, and speeds weight loss. Stretching helps with flexibility, cardio with endurance.
So what’s the problem here? I could echo what I said about sleep – that I’m crunched for time – but I also have to admit it’s just habit. I am not one of those people who was always fit and active until I went to college/started working/had kids/whatever. I have never been active. Never ever. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start now.
Eating Good Food
Again, I’ve got the info. I need to eat whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables. I need to cut out processed foods, sugar, and things that my body is sensitive to. I’ve done it for a month, perfectly; for six months, almost perfectly. I lost weight, looked better, felt great. But I fell off the wagon and then let it run me over.
Eating well would give my body the raw material it needs to build muscle and tissue. It would naturally regulate my weight. I would feel better, stronger, faster.
What is holding me back? I have never learned to cook, but good food can be assembled without that talent. “I deserve a treat with all that’s going on!” but there are other ways to treat myself. I need to make it non-negotiable. Just as I don’t take drugs because I know the harm they would do to my body, I can choose to Just Say No to food that is equally abusive.
Drinking Plenty of Water
We all know we need to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. I think I was taught that in second or third grade, in fact. Yet whole days will go by when I have poured myself a single glass of water… and not finished drinking it.
But I know the benefits of keeping myself hydrated: No more dry skin. No more cracked and bleeding lips. Fewer UTIs (very important for me, given where the lesions on my spinal cord are). For that matter, all plumbing in good working order. Increased energy. reduced appetite.
I take drugs three times a day, for an assortment of medical conditions. Timing for a couple of them is key, as I need to keep my levels steady. This shouldn’t be a big deal; I have a pill sorter, and I have a routine. Meds in the morning when I brush my teeth, in the afternoon, and at night right before bed. But when I go to bed too late or sleep in too long, I mess up the timing or – much worse – collapse into bed without taking the nighttime dose. I won’t bore you with the details, but the result is not pretty.
I need to keep on top of my meds. This one really piggybacks on the sleep issue, so solving that will go a long way to keeping me on schedule.
Whew! This post was a long one. It’s good to break it down for myself, though. I need to remind myself, “This is why you want these things, and this is what you need to do to be successful every day.” I ought to read this every morning when I get up, just to set the tone for the day.
I’m grateful! for the hospitality of my friend Liz, who has graciously opened her home in London to us. We fly there tomorrow morning; I can’t wait!