People make changes at their own pace whether these changes are what they imagined for themselves or not. For some, change is as simple as making a U-turn in the middle of a busy four lane highway. For others, change is more complex and takes a bit longer, like trying to work your car out of a tight parking space, making what seems to be a 20-point turn. At times, these changes appear to be "impossible", frustrating, and beyond our grasp.
I've Done Both....And Some In-Between Maneuvers
At the beginning of my Health Changing Journey, I found myself making simple, yet very effective, changes in my diet and lifestyle. Simple and easy are not always equivalent, however. Breaking a sugar addiction can be very difficult, to say the least! (Did you know that sugar can be up to 7 times more addictive than cocaine??? Seriously, studies have shown this to be true.) Overlapping with the sugar busting was a period of time eliminating much of the processed foods that were in the pantry.
Next, after cleaning up my diet, I started replacing my Premarin (post hysterectomy) with bio-identical hormones and ditched my anti-depressant. My body responded well, but that nagging fatigue remained. I never felt rested completely, no matter how much sleep I got. My appearance was better after losing 30 lbs. and my young daughters were no longer commenting on my weight (yes, my BMI had crossed over the 30 mark, thus categorizing me as obese). But that fatigue!!
I kicked into Nerd Overdrive and bought, ordered, and read every book I could get my hands on pertaining to fatigue. I put what I read into action and had started to improve some just before I enrolled in a series of classes to qualify myself to practice medicine the way I do today. Everything is a PROCESS! Remember that! All change is a process. Here I am 13 years later, 49 years old and enjoying the best health I've ever experienced.
A Basic U-Turn
Whether your health requires a basic U-turn or a more complex "multiple point turn", it all begins with a conscious realization that you are not where you want or thought you would be at this point in your life. In my professional experience, basic U-turns are for people who "had it all together" once and somehow got turned around during a tough period of their life. Making a quick adjustment and turning themselves around is quick, relatively painless, and quite effective. Life is practically back on track as planned after this turn. For instance, a college freshman one day realizes that instead of the traditional Freshman Fifteen, she has gained twenty-pounds. All those sugary lattes, late night jaunts to the Walmart cookie aisle, and parties wreaked havoc on the figure she once prided herself in. Knowing she needs to get a grip on this before any further "damage" is done, she switches to plain coffee with cream, refuses to go down the cookie aisle, and drinks more moderately, if at all. This is a U-turn.
A Twenty-Point Turn
Once someone has developed some health problems, whether they are truly hereditary (we'll talk more about "It runs in my family" later in another post) or stress-related, a more complex multiple-point turn is in order. Life happens and we don't always know what to do about or how to get out of certain situations. We gain a few pounds, but initially it "isn't hurting" us or causing a problem because our blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol panel, etc. are all "within normal range". Fast forward a few years and we're 10-30 lbs heavier and have started to see abnormal vital sign and lab readings. We're not sleeping well. We look terrible. We're depressed (yes, even Christians in the Bible Belt can have clinical depression that needs to be addressed) and restful sleep eludes us. Life is out of control. If we're fortunate enough, we realize that our health needs to improve and we start to clean up our diet. Sometimes, however, a wake up call of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, or nervous breakdown is what jolts us into action to start a multiple-point turn to change our health. Dietary changes such as decreasing fat, decreasing sugar, increasing fiber, fruits and veggies, and eliminating processed foods "use up" many of our turns. These changes can be challenging and can take time. Next, we have to address the sleep, exercise, and increasing our water intake. As difficult as these changes might be, probably the most challenging change of all is that of SIMPLIFYING our lives and minimizing our stress. This, my friends, is a "twenty-point turn" change.
Whether getting your health and life in order requires a U-turn or a 20-point turn, knowing where you are and where you want to be are of utmost importance. Here are some tips I have found to be helpful in making necessary changes:
1. Be absolutely honest with yourself. The truth might hurt, but be honest about what shape you are in.
2. Don't "should" on yourself. Statements like "I should be able to handle this" or "I shouldn't feel this way" or "I should be this or that" will actually set you up for failure.
3. Don't compare yourself with others. Compete with yourself if you must compete at all.
4. Love yourself unconditionally. I have found that, for many people, loving oneself can be extremely difficult.
5. Speak to yourself as if you would talk to your child, best friend, or someone else who seeks your advice and guidance....and then follow your own advice!
It's a Process
Remember that everything is a process! Comparing your progress to someone else's progress or yourself to someone else PERIOD, is counterproductive. After all, this is about you. It is very important to keep putting forth the effort to make improvements. If making dietary changes proves to be "too much" for you to handle right now, then work on something else such as feeding your brain with positive thoughts and information so you can grow personally or spiritually. If you're too tired to exercise, go see a health care professional who can help determine the source of your fatigue. Address that issue and once your energy level improves, you'll have the desire to exercise or at least be more active! Love yourself. Live life to the fullest. Laugh until your face and belly hurt!! You can do this....one turn at a time.