Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Thoughts on Healthy Living
Entering my 28th year (thanks for all the birthday love, by the way!), I've been reflecting a lot more on health and wellness and just kind of checking in on where I am with that. I'm currently the heaviest I've ever been in my life. Now, I know that there's a big push to not define yourself by your dress size or the scale, and to love your curves, but I unfortunately do not personally believe in loving my own curves when they are the direct result of overindulging in things that are not inherently good for me. I can jump on board the ship that proclaims that we shouldn't body shame and shouldn't make others feel bad who aren't thin, but for myself, I know where my curves come from and I know what pushes me up a dress size. It's a direct result of what I put into my body and how I move (or don't move) from day to day.
I wanted to ring in my birthday yesterday doing something active-- Scott has been wanting to try hot yoga (as have I), but I didn't feel hydrated enough yesterday and didn't want to have a terrible first experience that prevented me from ever trying again. So instead, we went on a 30 minute bike ride on the Monon Trail. It was by no means the longest or most vigorous ride, but I was craving movement. This weekend involved a lot of movement, actually. With my siblings in town, I started running again, went on long walks on the Monon, and chose walking over driving to several places. Spring weather helps with that, too, creating a desire in me to be outside and to be in the sunlight.
Even though we were active yesterday, I still ate a pretty carb-loaded lunch, "treating" myself to a Dr. Pepper (which made me feel so bloated and sick afterwards), and indulged in both cake AND a cupcake. All that to celebrate another year of life--all that to cause me to wonder, as I celebrate, am I actually celebrating with things that may shorten my life?
A friend from work recently went on a trip to Ikaria to study one of the Blue Zones of the world and introduced me to what the Blue Zones are. Since then, I am fascinated and have ordered two books (one of which is a cookbook) and researched multiple articles about the Blue Zones. The Blue Zones are regions of the world where there are a high population of individuals who live statistically longer lives than the rest of the world. The current identified Blue Zones include Loma Linda, CA; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Nikoya, Costa Rica; and Okinawa, Japan. What kinds of things are characteristic of those who live in Blue Zones? Plant-based diets, naturally active lives, large focus on family, avoiding smoking, engagement in faith life and social life, and stress reduction/lack of focus on time and planning. Doesn't that sound wonderful? It sounds so easy, yet when I think about my typical American lifestlye, I participate in very few of those activities. I eat meat, carbs, and sugar. I stress-eat every single day (even if it's something healthy). I spend most days sitting, doing homework, being still, and perhaps spend 30-60 minutes per day moving. I have a moderate faith life-- I could always do better with this. My family is far from me but when I am near them I love being around them. And my attention to the clock, planning things out, and feeling an overall feeling of anxiety about how I spend my days is pretty alarming. I am aware of it but don't know how to change it.
I always thought that Scott and I would be carnivores for life. Scott's family has always been involved in animal agriculture (is this a real term? Not sure), and he's always a huge meat-lover. But we've been talking about the Blue Zones and a lot of health-related evidence lately, and the other day he mentioned testing the waters of vegetarianism. I raised my eyebrows and pounced on the opportunity to commit to this. We're still processing what this will look like-- we may lean more towards pescatarian than vegetarian, but we plan to have meat occasionally when we go out or when we're at the houses of family members. We're just going to try to ease into this and see how it goes. Because I don't want to keep eating the way I eat, feeling the way I feel, and wondering if I could be doing more for my health. I'm also very much wanting to move more. I don't want to allow grad school to keep me pinned to my desk chair or couch every day. I want to run, walk, bike, and move.
And as I pursue a degree as an adult gerontology nurse practitioner and specialize in aging well, I want to be a role model for those I work with. And I want to learn from them, too. Learn how they live healthy lifestyles or how they have aged well.
How do you pursue a healthy lifestyle? What things help you stay motivated? What struggles do you have? I would love to hear from friends who are thinking about this.