I am the worst patient. When I do decide to go to the doctor for a checkup, I don’t always follow the instructions given. If something doesn’t bother me, or if there is nothing broken, what’s the point. I also realize I have a high threshold for pain, and if something didn’t knock me flat on my back, I ignored it. My thought was, ‘Oh, it’s just a little limp,” and I’d change-up my walk and make it look like swagger. At least that used to be my mindset.
Since focusing on being healthier, I’ve decided to take the advice of my doctor more seriously. I took my physical recently and have followed up on the instructions and medications prescribed by the doctor. Amazingly 41 years of abusing my body, smoking, unhealthy eating habits and a 3 bottle per day 16 oz or more Pepsi consumption, and my only major health issue is a vitamin D deficiency. I am not surprised about this news because I have had this problem for at least 2 years, but have ignored my doctor’s advice to sit in the sun and take vitamins. No, I’m not a vampire, I really just hate the sun. But I’m trying to change that thought pattern. So every day I take my vitamin D and catch a few rays, which is hard to do in the gray days of winter.
I have been researching healthier living, and while I have come across some new information I realize that a lot of things I already knew and just ignored. So now I’m trying to put my knowledge to use. I drink more water, at least 30 oz per day, no more sodas either. I have increased my fruit intake, at least 3 servings per day. I am also incorporating more vegetables into my diet. I am eating less red meat, which really wasn’t that hard to do. I am also cooking more, choosing healthier sides and fresh ingredients.
I am still a work in progress. There are many healthier foods that I have yet to be open enough to try, like kiwi, fish, or zucchini just to name a few. I also haven’t gotten rid of my addiction to cheese popcorn, candy and chocolate. But as I continue to embark on this natural, holistic journey I find that I am making better choices and putting my health first,
I sometimes wish that I never had to grow up. I wish I could be a kid forever, being carefree with no responsibilities. But unfortunately that is only a dream. I grew up, I have a family and many, many responsibilities.
But that doesn’t mean that I can’t still have fun and have carefree moments. I have found that I really don’t know how to relax and have fun. I don’t know how to let my hair down and be carefree. I’m wound up tight, and that’s not healthy.
So I have made a conscious decision to have more fun. I started doing the hula hoop again. Besides being a good way to exercise, it takes me back to my childhood, playing on the terrace for hours. We would have contests seeing who could do it the longest. I haven’t had a contest yet but I have fun reliving that moment from my childhood.
I have also started jumping rope, another form of exercise so yes I am multitasking ,but I’m also having fun, sort of. I don’t remember it being so hard. But I also was much smaller but that’s a whole ‘nother post. It’s cool having flashbacks of the fun had as a child jumping rope with friends, while ignoring the laughter from son who is watching me struggle.
I went to the art store recently and purchased some colored pencils, sketch book etc, and I get lost in drawing, coloring and creating. It calms my spirit, and helps me realize how play time can be just as important to adults as well as children. It allows me to not always take myself so seriously and also how to laugh at myself when I can’t get something right. But you won’t catch me playing tag football any time soon, I do realize the limitations on this body of mine.
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For years I have been a people pleaser. I would bite my tongue and hold thoughts inside to keep a situation calm and keep everyone at peace. Which was fine for everyone but me. Outwardly I would appear to be calm and carefree. I was always seen as the level-headed one, people would always come to me and I would allow them to dump whatever they were feeling on me and I would be the calming presence that allowed them to empty their negative thoughts and feelings out and I still managed to make them smile and feel good about themselves.
I have also gone with the flow of things, putting other people’s plans ahead of my own to keep the peace, or just to make sure everyone was happy, even though inside I wasn’t always in a happy spot, I would put me off until later. I would brush things off as not being that serious or that my time was coming, or any other excuse I could think of to keep others smiling.
Inside I was doing so much harm to myself and until recently I really didn’t know it. But I started noticing that the smile didn’t reach my eyes like it used to. I noticed that I was no longer happy or carefree. I constantly felt negativity around me. I felt like I was ready to explode. And I couldn’t figure out why this was happening.
So I decided to take some time to figure out what was going on. I pulled out my journals for the past couple of years and read. I was looking for clues about what was wrong, when was the last time I was truly happy, etc. I had to go back at least a good four years before I saw a glimmer of my old self, but I had to go back even more to find a time when I was truly at peace.
What I have noticed is that I was more at peace when I was a little more selfish about things. Not selfish in the arrogant, obnoxious way, but selfish as in putting myself and my feelings at the forefront of my actions. I can’t give off positive energy to other people or into the universe if I don’t have any to give. If I am so busy trying to keep everyone else happy, when will I create my own happiness. So starting today I will put myself first, making sure that I am good, mentally and physically so that I can spread positive energy and be a positive calming force to those around me.
Before I quit smoking I hated walking, or any kind of exercise. I would make my walks as short as possible. As a New Yorker with access to cabs on almost every corner I would hop in a cab to do almost any chore. Or if I absolutely had to walk, I’d do so grudgingly, with an attitude to boot.
1 month into my journey of not smoking I took up walking to help cope with the nervous energy that I experienced from having no nicotine in my body. At first I would walk the track near my home for a few minutes, maybe going around it twice. And be done, tired, sweat dripping and ready for a nap.
Today, 10 months into my journey of not smoking I walk for fun, and every chance I get. Instead of getting on the bus after dropping my child to school, I choose to walk the 3 miles home. On my days off I have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge all the way to the new home of the Brooklyn Nets, which is close to 8 miles, give or take.
Walking allows me the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the world around me without the rush of daily life. Walking allows me to focus on nature, which is hard to do when on a crowded subway, or flying past in a car. I thought that I would lose this love in the winter because it can be brutally cold but I just add an extra layer of clothing and go outside and walk.
The benefits for me have been plentiful. The first one is that walking has allowed me to not gain the dreaded weight most people gain when they quit smoking. But more importantly, walking gives me the opportunity to tune out the world and listen to myself, It allows me the opportunity to clear my mind of the other aspects of life that always vie for my attention and focus on the here and now, which helps to keep me grounded.