As a woman who never had a serious health issue, including being overweight, it came as a bit of a shock one day when I looked in the mirror and realized I had gained weight. A lot of it. Never mind that the numbers had been going up on the tags on my clothes over the years. I justified it because, in my eyes, I was healthy.
I never let weight define me as a person. I still looked good. And I felt good, too—until I didn’t. It crept up on me, the not feeling 100%. My knees started to hurt. I was tired all the time. When I ate certain foods, I felt uncomfortable. My energy level was low. I wasn’t walking my dog every day, and I was more sedentary than I had ever been. I felt off. And I was starting to feel depressed too.
I wallowed for awhile, made excuses, and commiserated with anyone who would listen. That didn’t help my cause.
Finally, when my best friend went to see a D.O. for many of the same issues I had and reported his findings back to me, I found myself saying, “I have that!” “I have that too!” “Oh my God, that’s me to a T!”
Realizing that it wasn’t me per se but that I might have some serious health issues, I felt hopeful for the first time in a very long time.
I did my homework and tracked down a top-notch endocrinologist. She ran a series of blood tests, and guess what? I was a mess.
Low cortisol? Check.
Stage 2 chronic kidney disease? OMG, are you kidding me? Check.
Vitamin D deficiency? Of course.
Celiac disease? Yikes, that’s a check.
High A1C? Why the hell not have type II diabetes too? Check.
Did I mention I was also forty pounds overweight? Ok, I just lied to all of you. I was fifty pounds overweight.
Call me a train wreck. Call me shocked. Call me all kinds of angry at myself for allowing these things to happen to me. I mean, I’m Karin Indestructible Tabke. I don’t get sick!
But I was sick. I had a choice: Live a healthier more balanced life, or start insulin, get heavier, continue to feel miserable, and die early.
I knew what I had to do, but I needed help. My family was happy to cheer me on, but I knew I couldn’t ask them to change their lifestyle for me. I had to do it alone. I had to be my own self-motivator.
In the few months since I began this journey, I have lost 23 pounds, reduced my A1C, stabilized my kidney failure, brought my D and iron levels to normal, and greatly reduced my celiac antibodies.
I have a long way to go to feel 100%, but I know it’s just a matter of time before I’ll be living a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some of the things I learned along the way:
Find a support team with whom you can share your goals, your one step at a time victories, as well as your one or two steps backwards. Find or create a positive place where you can candidly and safely talk about your health issues, including depression. For me, I established a for-women-only place on Facebook called “the A List”. (The “A” is for awesome, by the way.)
Change your routine. Sounds like a no-brainer right? It is, but to many people, desperately trying to pull themselves out of an unhealthy lifestyle into a healthy one is daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Not when you have support and understand that, yes, you must change bad habits and routines into good ones to become healthier.
But not all at once. Here’s the thing about doing something all at once: It sets us up for failure. All-at-once is a shock to the system, and it isn’t fair to expect that everything will fall into place when the system is in shock. I mean, really, who said we had to do it all and do it all Right. This. Minute? No one. And if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, firmly push back and listen to yourself. Because at the end of each day, no one has your back more than you do.
Changing a routine should be done incrementally so that there is time to adapt. By changing just one aspect of your routine from unhealthy to healthy, you create a new healthy routine where you’re actually living healthy. Slow and steady wins the race.
For me, the first routine change was to increase my H2O intake from nothing to thirty ounces a day. It took me two weeks to really make it a habit. Then, I upped the ounces by ten each week. I did this over a period of two months. I now drink eighty ounces of water from the time I wake up to an hour before I go to bed.
How do I keep my routine a routine? Each morning I take five 16-ounce water bottles from the fridge and place them on my kitchen counter. They sit there as a reminder that they need to be consumed. As I polish off one bottle, I grab another until they’re gone.
A few of the A Listers have created jugs with ounce markers. They fill it up to their desired intake for the day and drink ‘til it’s dry. What works for one may not work for another, so experiment until you find what works for you.
I asked the A List to share one change they have made, and here is what they had to say:
– I changed the way I look at food. Fuel or fat?
– I watch my portions.
– Attitude. I don’t beat myself up when I misstep.
– I move.
– I’m accountable to my Fitbit and my support team.
– I don’t grab a bad quickie anymore; I grab healthy choices.
– Water, water, and more water!
– Walk. (Walking with a friend makes it much more enjoyable.)
– I food prep for travel.
These are all simple routine changes, but once they become habit (and you add another, then another), they result in what we all want: A healthy, happy lifestyle.
When you are happy and healthy, anything is possible!