Is Today THE Day?


new day

 

Is Today THE Day?

THE Day…is it today, next Monday, January 1st, or 6 months before that class reunion? As you may or may not know, my day came after a series of events.  It started with thinking that losing “baby weight” was probably out of the question as my baby turned 6 years old.  It continued with hearing health and wellness expert speak about health and wellness.  It hit me like a ton of bricks after my mother had a devastating stroke.  My day finally arrived that day.

Let’s think about your day. My first two cents comes in the form of me yelling in your ear “TODAY IS YOUR DAY!!”  Don’t make the mistake of waiting for some arbitrary day to start making those healthy choices.  When you wait for THE day-that day circled in red on your calendar- you begin what feels like a death march.  You do things like eat an entire cheesecake believing that it will be the last time you’ll taste that creamy goodness for the rest of your life.  You drink 3 margaritas telling yourself that after THE day you’ll be drinking water with lemon during your next girls’ night out.  I know some of you will have that ceremonial last supper that represents the end of all bad food choices by completely gorging yourselves. 

Don’t waste time. Try to remember that life is long…hopefully.  You didn’t develop your habits overnight.  They’ve come as a result of gradual changes over time.  It is this kind of change that is everlasting. Let’s get that pendulum swinging in the direction of health and wellness.  Start with thinking “both/and” versus “either/or”.  Instead of saying that pop or soda is the devil, drink a large glass of water before you grab that carbonated beverage.  You may or may not be thirsty enough to drink it.   Instead of passing that pizza up all together, have a hearty salad first and then have the pizza if you have room.  I guarantee you will not have as much room for the pizza as you would have if you jumped right in to that cheesy slice first.  Adding versus taking away always feels better to me and I’m guessing for you as well.  ANY change you make, no matter how small, is definitely worth doing.  This also goes for exercise or activity as well.  I have been there. Completely motivated, bordering on manic.  I’ve taken 2 exercise classes back to back or been over confident in the weight room.  The morning after is never a pretty thing.  Activity like that results in creative swearing, awkward hobbling, and usually a lot of over the counter pain relievers.  What I suggest is to just do more.  That’s right.  Just do more. I understand that it sounds a bit simplistic, but why does it have to be complicated?  If you are a couch potato – you know who you are – get up and walk for 10 minutes.  If that feels okay, then go ahead and walk for 15 minutes the next day or go for two 10 minute walks instead.  If you have been active in the past, take it up again, but start realistically.  If you used to work out 5 days a week, try starting with 2 or 3 days at first. 

These gradual changes apply to your family as well.  You know that the “others” in your household will rise up against you should you try to instill a slew of drastic changes.  Who needs that kind of additional drama?  Swearing off fast food all together may be impossible.  I know this is the case at my house.  I try desperately to plan ahead and not get caught in the drive-thru lane.  Alas, I’m not Wonder Woman and I’m okay with this reality.  We, as a family, eat very healthy about 80% of the time.  What’s that look like? No one in the house ever skips breakfast. We all pack lunch 4 out of 5 days during the week.  There are always 2 servings of vegetables or fruit with every meal.  Fruit bowls are full of apples, pears and bananas so we grab those first.  When we do get fast food we share fries instead of getting a box for each of us.  We drink water or milk.  When we have something that is not so good for us, we balance it by doing something that is good for us.  Good for us ideas can be a long family walk, a glass of milk and an apple with dessert, or making sure that we have extra veggies the next day.

You know where you are.  Now is the time to take yourself and your family forward.  These changes are meant to reward not punish. You all deserve a healthy and happy life. In the midst of all the chaos of life, take the time to make health and wellness a conscious part of your daily routine until it becomes routine.  As I think about my mother who didn’t take the time to make healthy lifestyle choices. I hope and strive for a different life for myself and my family.  Health and wellness may not be a priority until you don’t have it. Don’t take your health for granted because it may just be a day away from being something very different. 

Make today THE day!

Live Well,

Toni Kuhel

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3 thoughts on “Is Today THE Day?

  1. It really is true about just “doing more”.

    My day came a couple years back, when I had scheduled a doctor’s appointment to address concerns regarding persistent symptoms that had become of concern to me. I would prefer to leave out the particulars there, but suffice it to say, after examination and several batteries of tests it was determined that I was stage 2 hypertensive and a great risk for heart failure.

    Here are what my stats were at the time: Blood Pressure – 150/100, Cholesterol – 363, Weight – 230 lbs. I am 5’9″ and my “ideal weight” is supposed to be what I weighed in high school – 170.

    Ack! I was prescribed Benicar to control the blood pressure, and Tricor to address the Cholesterol (my doctor also instructed me to take 4000 mg of fish oil for th Omega-3 benefits as well) along with a pamphlet on healthy eating. I then, of course, asked how long I would be expected to have to take this regimen of pills. The good news, was that the Tricor could be stopped once the cholesterol levels were in a better place, but she (my doctor) left me with the distinct impression that I would be taking the Benicar indefinitely. Ugh!

    I resolved that I would not be this guy who would have to take a pill every day for the rest of his life, and that I would do everything to ensure that I would become as healthy as possible. After leaving the doctor, I went and had the ceremonial greaseburger, thinking it would be my last, much like Toni indicated in her post.

    The doing “everything healthy” lasted about a week and a half. Though I didn’t quite “relapse” either. I settled into a system of rewarding myself with no diet restrictions 2 days of the week, while adhering (fairly) strictly to healthy choices the remaining 5 days. I did not make the mistake of making it so regimented that I could only indulge on this particular day of the week, or that. This left room for social events (which never seem to adhere to such a schedule) not leading to guilt or disappointment. I would simply use one of my “indulgence day credits” for that week.

    The thing that I did do that carried over to each day, regardless of diet, was to eat smaller portions more frequently. In a couple weeks, I noticed that I could not physically consume the same amount in one sitting as I had previously been able to do.

    Now, on to exercise, at the time I was diagnosed, I was already practicing yoga, and continued to do so. As summer time came along, I re-started an old habit that I had dropped during my marriage (about 5 years and a divorce before my diagnosis), bicycling. I started by taking the bike in for a tune-up at the local shop, including adding one of those speedometer/odometer mini-computers. Then the real work began. It really hits home when you are winded after a 10 mile ride when you were once accustomed to riding 20, 30, and even 75 miles without needing any serious recovery. I reluctantly set 10 miles as my minimum workout distance (about a half-hour at a slow pace). My old workout regimen philosophy still applied though – ride at a moderate pace the first half of the ride, and then pump hard enough to beat the time of the first half of the ride on the return trip.

    I don’t have a winter workout regimen outside of doing yoga, but this made something of a difference nonetheless. The first summer of biking, I got myself back up to comfortably riding about 35-40 miles. Not miraculous, but good progress. This past spring, I conservatively started my bike workout at 15 miles, accounting for an anticipated decrease in conditioning/stamina, and it turned out to be a well-calculated choice. I resolved to set a target to be in condition to do a “century run”, in biking terms, that is a 100 mile ride. So I started training 3 times a week and once the first week of 15 milers, I started adding 5 miles to each of the second and third runs in a given week.

    Seemingly serendipitously, I befriended a man who captains a team that rides every year to raise funds for MS research. His daughter had been diagnosed 14 years earlier, and he has ridden ever since. Imagine my surprise when I found out his daughter happened to be an old friend from my young-adult days who I had last seen about 4 or 5 years prior to her diagnosis! Mother nature was not kind to my training schedule, and the scheduled marathon was in July, rather than my target of the end of the summer. However, I managed to successfully complete the event nonetheless. Two days of riding (1st day – 62 miles, 2nd day – 38 miles). The first day kicked my butt, and I was the absolute last rider to cross the finish line. Still it was a phenomenal feeling. At that moment, I thought I would about die to do the next day’s ride, but I actually far exceeded my own expectations that day and finished in the middle of the pack, more or less. I know I will ride in this event every year for as long as I am able. It is amazing to be a part of something greater than yourself.

    Now, back to the pills. At the beginning of this summer (without the consent of my doctor) I weaned myself off my medication, though I kept taking the fish-oil. At that point, my Cholesterol was already down to about 200, and I had gotten my weight down to about 215. The meds had my BP steady and regular the whole time (hovering around 168/68 – 172/72 each check-up). It has been 6 months since I last took a BP regulating medication, and last week my BP was a stable 120/70! I am waiting on the results of a cholesterol test, but I am confident that it’s gone down at least a couple points from the 200 reading of before, and I am now at a pretty good weight of 200 lbs.

    It’s taken me 2 years to get to this point, and there is more to go, but the philosophy of “doing more” without overwhelming myself with drastic changes, is precisely how I did it, thus far.

    It works, plain and simple.

  2. I’ve had several of those Days, but the most recent came when I realized that no one else is here to take care of my husband, who may soon be having a major organ transplant. I’ve got to be strong and healthy to meet that challenge! There’s no turning back to the old ways.

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