I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly healthy or unhealthy person. Just middle of the road, good days and bad days. My upbringing, body type, and temperament keep me fairly moderated in this culture of excess. Then I married a guy with a gluten intolerance. That kind of changes the way you think about food and health. When it causes migraines, aches and fatigue, and can be found in so many foods, food becomes the enemy. Health becomes a conscious choice and struggle instead of a natural byproduct of life.
The thing I am always learning, the choice I always have to make is to listen to my body, and by the nature of marriage, my husband’s as well. Healthy choices mean different things for different people. My husband is very thin, gluten intolerant, gets sick when he doesn’t sleep enough, and introverted. That means I feed him protein and good fats whenever I can, weigh the risk of buying foods that may or may not be exposed to gluten, try not to stay out late with friends so he gets sleep, and help him say no to some social engagements so he doesn’t get mentally drained.
I, on the other hand, try not to eat quite as much fat and protein, don’t have to worry about the foods with gluten but do have to think about lactose, and can go without sleep and spend more time with people. I am always learning that this person I married is different from me, needs different things, and that’s ok.
So healthy choices I learned in 2015 and continue to learn in 2016, because let’s face it, just because you make a choice once doesn’t mean you’ve learned it. You’ve got to make it over and over and over again for it to become something you have learned.
What I Learned About Life, Love and Health in 2015
Listen to Your Body
Your body is unique and only you know what is normal and abnormal (if you pay attention). I can eat some dairy and be ok, but I can’t eat a ton. Josh can have something with a very small amount of gluten, but he can’t eat a slice a bread. When you’re tired, go to sleep. When my body starts to feel tense and tight, I know it’s time to do yoga. When you’re thirsty, drink water. Your body knows what it needs. Listen to it.
I am always learning what Josh can and cannot eat. Food isn’t the enemy anymore because I know my enemy, gluten, not food in general. Ignorance leads us to make decisions based on superstition and whims and makes us feel like it isn’t within our control. But you can learn what it is to be healthy for you. I’ve struggled with bouts of anxiety and nausea at odd times without understanding the cause for years. Turns out my blood sugar can drop causing those symptoms and I just need to get some sugar into my system/ To avoid it happening, I have to watch when and how I eat sugar. Ask questions. Get answers. Educate yourself.
I really struggle with taking breaks from work, projects, errands, anything. I’m learning to get up, take a walk, get some space and come back with a full stomach and fresh eyes. If you don’t take breaks, you burn out. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Do you have any idea how many times I’ve said yes to ice cream at someone’s house because i can’t resist the temptation and don’t want to be considered rude? A million. And how many times I’ve paid for it? Every time. I finally gathered the guts this year to just to say no to ice cream. no. matter. what. This goes for so much more than food. Josh and I are always struggling how and who to say no to of all the people and activities in our lives so that we aren’t constantly exhausted. Don’t be afraid to draw boundaries. You’re worth it (and I’m preaching to myself as much as you).
Early this year, a friend of ours challenged Josh to not eat ANY gluten for as long as he could. She promised him prizes and I joined in. We kept track for about two months and now we don’t have to anymore. He thought it would be impossible but instead he found his body felt so much better that it wasn’t really a temptation anymore. Doesn’t mean he never eats gluten, but the habit was broken. I picked up rock climbing again with some friends and we continue to challenge each other to be active. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.
Just remember, because you made the choice once, doesn’t mean you learned it. And just because you don’t always make the best choice doesn’t mean you aren’t learning. It’s all part of the process. Who knows what choices I’ll be making in 2016, but I will be learning. So here’s to learning how to be healthier, choice by choice in 2016!