My path to a healthy body and happy heart

Just a reminder at the outset, please visit the Caringforkara blog site to bid on the many amazing items being offered to raise money for one of our own who is in need of our help.  http://caringforkara.wordpress.com/  Do what you can to help and I promise Karma will smile down upon you.

Welcome to the first in a series of blogs that I’ll be doing about health and fitness.  The idea for the series came about after I was asked by Andy and the Rev of the Cocktail Hour to join them for a discussion about the topic.  To learn more about the Cocktail Hour please visit them at http://cocktailhour.us/about.  Stay tuned for more on when that will be scheduled. 

Out of the gate, my disclaimer is that this is not an advice blog.  I am in no position to give others advice about how to get healthy and fit.  What I will discuss is my own journey there, including what has worked and not worked for me.  Each person has to be responsible with the help her health care provider to know her own body, its capabilities and needs.

Let’s get started.  I come from a long line of short stocky women who tend to gain weight easily, especially at middle age.  I grew up on a Midwestern diet of meat, potatoes and sugar.  I thank my parents for always making sure that our bellies were full.  They did their very best under the circumstances.  However, my diet now is nothing like the one I grew up on.  I’ll write more about that in another blog about food.  An unhealthy diet was a big part of why I struggled with fluctuating weight during my 20s and 30s.  One year I would be thin and fit, and by the next I’d be carrying 10 to 25lbs more than was healthy for my 4’ 11” frame.  I always kept two sets of clothes.  Ones for when I was thin, and then not so thin.  I could lose weight easily enough, but I could never keep it off for good.  That changed when I changed my view of what it means to be healthy.

When I was thirty nine, I was 25lbs overweight, suffering from the pain associated with having broken my back a number of years prior, and I was a giant ball of stress.  I oscillated between feeling sorry for myself and wanting to be healthy and go back to running.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I am a runner.   I also had a good friend who died that year of breast cancer.  She was only forty when she lost her battle.  One of the things that touched me most was how hard she fought to keep her body as healthy as possible going through her treatments.  She drastically changed her diet and moved her body as best she could under the weight of cancer and the treatments for it.  She desperately wanted to live, and the way to get there was to be as healthy as she could be.  I don’t know whether the changes that she made gave her any extra time, but I learned from her that life is fleeting and that the health of our bodies is essential to us being around for a long time.    

What clicked for me is that health and fitness have absolutely nothing to do with body image or what others think of you.  It has everything to do with living one’s best life and being comfortable in our own skin.  By the time I reached age forty, I had lost 27 pounds, and at age forty five I am in the best shape of my life despite a bad back and the aging process.  My weight does fluctuate, but only at a rate of 1-3lbs, rather than what it used to.  There have been three essential ingredients to my getting to this place.  The first is to move my body.  The human body was designed to move.  Based on our genetics and history of injury, that means different things for different people.  I know my limitations and capabilities.  I focus on the capabilities and move to the fullest extent possible within them.  The second ingredient is diet.  Changing my diet and how I think about food has made all the difference, and I would never go back to the way that I used to eat.  More than five years into it, I don’t miss a meat, potato and sugar diet at all.  Finally, like most people, stress used to play a huge part in making me unhealthy.  I still have plenty of things that cause stress in my life.  The difference now is how I manage it by meditating and changing how I think about the world.  This change has been the most difficult and requires much effort.  But, I continue to work hard to keep stress at bay which means I have more energy for exercise, motivation to eat healthy and am so much happier and grateful about life.   

So, the three things that I’ll be talking about over the series of blogs on health are (1) diet (2) exercise and (3) finding a happy heart.  I hope you’ll join me by posting comments on what works for you as well.  I view this as an opportunity for us to learn from and help each other find our paths to our own best health.   Peace.

   

 

     

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29 thoughts on “My path to a healthy body and happy heart

  1. Wow! Can’t wait to hear Cocktail Hour. Bev, this is exactly what we need to help make us more aware of good health. I love your comments about good food and exercise. Your visits to the farmer’s market! Great information. Thanks. What a wonderful service to us all. You should have your own network show. And when you do, please make certain it transmits to your friends in Colorado.

  2. Bev, I am grateful you have decided to blog about health and fitness..I too am short and it is an every day battle to keep any un wanted weight from turning into a muffin top…I too have fat and skinny clothes…I am ready to throw away the fat clothes…As women we must remenber that Heart Disease is the number one killer of women..we must encouage each and every woman we know to take care of herself…we are family..Thank you for taking on this subject and running with it..

    • And thank you for joining in. You are so right about us being family and encouraging each other to find our individual places of healthy and happiness. Excercise on, my friend.!

  3. Great blog Bev, I just wish you had put more emphasis on diet being a disciplne and the lifestyle change it takes to move away from, the meat, potato’s and sugar, one is brought up with. But as you give a great base for someone to start.

    • Hi Eileen, I’ll be discussing that in detail when I do the blog about diet. Look for my next blog with the title “Food, glorious food.”. Have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by.

  4. This will be an interesting series of blogs, Bev. I am certain we will all be able to recognize some sage advice and then – if we choose to act on those tips – make the changes that we need. My gap in reality is between the intellectual knowing what is better for my body and actually doing it. The old “wishbone vs. backbone” kind of thing. Always anxious to try tho! Any day can be the first day, and knowing that the brain can just flip a switch is both reassuring, and somewhat daunting. Thanks for taking this on, and offering us a fine example! Rockin’!!

  5. Hey Bev, thats a good bit of information and very helpful. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ll look forward to the blogs and cocktailhour as well.

  6. I’m looking forward to talking with you, Bev, and reading your blog posts.

    I grew up in the same midwestern meat and taters sort of thing and I still love them. I’ve always been a touch overweight, even when I was in the Marines and exercising regularly. Now that I’m heading up to 44, I’m really struggling with trying to drop about 30 lbs that have settled around my torso and hip/thigh area.

    I’m sort of a compulsive eater – stress, boredom, comfort, habit – so I try to keep healthy snacks around but I’m a huge fan of salty snacks so that’s tough. Will power and me aren’t the best of friends. I also tend to do exercise in spurts but can’t seem to develop a habit that will stick. And the smallest interruption in the routine completely blows it for me. Then the guilt spiral starts…

    I suppose the biggest issue I have is stress and worry. I think that feeds all the other troubles I have with diet and exercise. I’m very much looking forward to hearing and reading about your journey. I’ve got an 8 year old and I want to get him started on the right path. So I need to figure out how to get him and my wife on board, which is hard and I tend to just take the easy route…

    Ok, I’ve rambled on enough. These things are just always on my mind so they spill on out.

    • Cheri, I’ve struggled with all of the same things you mentioned. Stress was by far the biggest factor in my being unhealthy. It just makes everything hard. For me the trick has been to manage how not to let it control me. I’ve learned how to tell stress and worry to just “shut the hell up.” 🙂

  7. Cheryl asked if I read your blog yet when I was upstairs. Now I know why. Thank you for doing this. All of what you wrote applies to my world. I think the biggest pain point for me is stress. I am working on a project that is zapping all energy plus pushing every button I have regarding lack of patience, people’s rudeness on conf calls, etc. I know my blood pressure fluctuates with each call. So instead of shoving non-healthy food in my mouth thinking it is comforting my stress, I would like to know more about this meditation strategy. I’ve never tried it. So I’ll be following you on all topics. Thank you Bev.

    • Thanks, Pam. I’ll be sure to include some references and suggestions for learning how to meditate. Like I said to Cheri, stress is the worst and most difficult thing to overcome on the path to better health. It’s a beast.

  8. Hi Bev: I was diagnosed with breast cancer more than 25 years ago. What a wake-up call! It changed by life. I too, am one of the shortys prone to being overweight. I lost 25 pounds—2 ounces at a time— and now have a fairly stable weight (within 1-2 pounds.) Best part is that my sugar cravings are gone. I input my diet into a program for two years until my new eating style became a habit. It can be done…one ounce at a time. Eager to read the rest of your blogs.

    • Sunny, that is an awesome story. I’m so glad that you are healthy, but I’m sorry that you had to go through dealing with cancer. I loved what you said about losing weight “2 ounces at a time.” That is brilliant advice. It takes time to do it right and make it last. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us.

      • Bev: Thanks for your kind comments. Having cancer led me on a different path. I have facilitated groups and worked with families and individuals dealing with cancer and other chronic illnesses. I’ve seen so many people change their lives for the better because of struggling with life altering health issues. It has been my privilege to work alongside them.

  9. Great blog post, Bev! I look forward to the future ones. At almost 55 (at the end of the month), I have struggled with weight and health issues all my life. I grew up on the Southern diet of bacon fat in veggies, lots of meat, potatoes and fried everything. I may be tall, but that only disguises some of the fat a bit. And stess! Well, that is an ever present reality. So, looking forward to hearing more of your journey as I work on my own.

    Anita

  10. Anita, Happy Birthday a few weeks early! Thanks for adding to the discussion. It sounds like stress is a major thing that we all battle. Hopefully we’ll be able to help each other with this discussion to find new ways to keep it at bay. I hope you have a great weekend.

  11. This will be a great blog series. I’m especially looking forward to the meditation blog. Just yesterday, I did my first guided meditation and my body happily hummed from the after-effect for several hours. I so look forward to your joyful observations about the world around you. They get my day off to a good start and serve as a model for me to look around at all the good and beautiful things near me that I get to be grateful for, too. I hope you realize all the good you do with your blogs and Facebook writings. I certainly appreciate them. It is illustrative, too, to read about where you have come from, to where you are now. Thank You for sharing.

  12. Bev, I’m thrilled that you’re starting a conversation about this topic. I’ve fought a battle with my weight, and my body image, for most of my adult life. About ten years ago, I lost 130 pounds through a healthy diet and exercise regimen. Now, as a post-menopausal woman, I seem to be caught in a vicious cycle gaining and losing the same 30-40 pounds—a terrible kind of see-saw for my poor body. I welcome this exploration and am eager to learn about your journey, and the experiences of others. Thank you!

    • Hi Ann, my spouse is going through menopause now. I think for her what has helped is finding ways to keep her metabolism from slowing too much by keeping stress down, diet and exercise. Even still, her body is changing as she ages. I think she’s beautiful and so are you.

  13. Ann, you bring up a really big issue – body image. Negative body image has been something that both my wife and I have struggled with most of our lives. Even when we were both healthy and in shape (former Marines), we still struggled with negative body image issues.

    • Good morning Ann and Cheri. I think that good health involves working on stress management as much as diet and exercise. Worrying about body image just adds to the pile of worries that caused me to seek out comfort food which caused me to gain weight which made exercise more difficult. For me, it was a bad cycle that I wasn’t able to break until I learned to not concern myself with body image. That’s where the stress management and changing my way of thinking made all the difference. Thanks for keeping this discussion going. I hope we all learn some great things from each other.

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