I’m feeling lucky about this year. Close-up field of bright green clover.
When I began changing my lifestyle to improve my health, I wanted the needed changes to my diet and lifestyle to be as natural as the way I lived and ate at the time. At the time, about four (4) years ago, I had a lot of unhealthy habits that were “natural” me.
Before, I would fixate on food. I was ruled by triggers like smelling someone else’s delicious meal or seeing someone else eat dessert or cookies or spying a candy bowl. I had a hard time paying attention to what someone was saying if they were eating and I was not. Now, I’ve often drunk a protein shake and then watched people eat a meal. I still crave a hot meal or something sweet plenty, but I’m no longer on the “see food” diet, and that’s a relief.
Now, I often crave salads and veggies. I still crave other stuff, but there are times when the vision that floats before my eyes isn’t that of a burger and fries or a milkshake or a sandwich, even. Sometimes, now, my body remembers the greens I’ve eaten in the past and realizes it’s been too long. And “too long”, now, is less than the once a week, which is how often I used to think I needed salad. Now, I crave green things at least once a day.
It used to be that I couldn’t get enough of sweet things. I ate too much of desserts, candy, cookies, ice cream, and “breakfast desserts” like pancakes, waffles, donuts, toast and jelly, French toast, toaster strudels, and pop tarts. Now, these often seem much too sweet to me. I eat 60% cacao chocolate with unsweetened peanut butter as dessert. Like a smoker who quits and eventually regains their sense of taste, without so many carbs and sugar in my diet, I can now taste the sweetness in dark chocolate and in fruits and enjoy them. I was like a person walking in the noonday sun, so surrounded by bright light that I was blinded when I walked into something that had a moderate amount of sugar in it. I couldn’t taste a little sugar because I was so used to a lot of sugar. But now, I can taste when something is just a bit sweet, and that’s enough and plenty.
I used to think working out once or twice a week was a good deal. The times a week was the goal I could never achieve. But now, I want to work out every day. I can feel that my body needs it. And even though I might not get a full workout in every day, I have a standing desk at the office that helps keep my blood sugar stable and my heart pumping more than my old desk did.
It used to be that I rewarded myself with food, a lot. I rewarded myself with food when something good happened, when I did something healthy, and when I was having a rough day. I had a lot of rough days, and pizza or burgers were not a solution to the rough days caused by my blood sugar issues. Now, I ask myself whether I really need a food reward, whether what I’m eating before or after a workout is a compensatory behavior, making up for the workout and not improving my health. I try to reward myself with other things I enjoy.
Recording the truth about my illness means telling the bad and the good. I feel pretty good about the changes I’ve made. Even if I’m not that great at focusing on them here, I am proud of my progress. I have blood tests that show a measurable difference as well. For me, this lifestyle change has been all about finding a way to make that jello stick to the wall. If nails don’t work, there’s a million other things to try. If you just keep trying you’ll make your own healthy habits, and one day you’ll wake up to find the impossible is now reality. I never imagined I would be eating chia seeds and avocado for breakfast, and enjoying it, but I do.