onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “health”

It could be worse. I could *look* 40.

This coming Tuesday will be my 40th birthday. And I am pretty excited about it, quite frankly.

I am not afraid of aging. I have written about this before, I know. I think that part of the reason I am not afraid of aging is that with my food under control, I am aging particularly well. I may be in the best shape of my life right now. And I don’t show a lot of the visible signs of getting older, though I do have a lot of gray hair. No seriously, a lot for 40. But it’s more white and silver than gray gray, so even that isn’t too bad.

And I don’t want to imply that I’m not experiencing the normal wear and tear that a 40-year-old experiences. My knees crack, and sometimes one or the other of my ankles is sore or wobbly for the first few minutes of my morning jog, and that’s with knee and ankle braces. And when I sit up after doing my crunches, I can hear and feel my back crack.

But at 16 I was morbidly obese. I had difficulty walking, let alone running. I was easily exhausted. I feared stairs the way people fear public speaking, though I had to face stairs daily, while, unless it’s your job, most people don’t have to speak in front of crowds very often.

But it’s not all about being thin either. It’s not just physical ease vs. discomfort. I look great, I feel great, I am generally happy, and content, and I believe that has a lot to do with the fact that I don’t poison myself with sugar.

The average American eats about 94 grams, or 350 calories, of added sugar in a day. That’s over 75 pounds of sugar in a year. And that is the average, not the extreme. For reference, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends about 25 grams a day for an average adult. So average Americans are eating almost four times the recommended amount of sugar. Every single day.

Now, I am not the food police. I don’t care if you choose to eat sugar. But as time goes by, science and medicine show more and more evidence that sugar is a drug, and that it affects us, not just physically (as in our weight), but also hormonally, and neurologically. I know it’s poison to me because I am addicted to it. But even if you are not addicted to sugar, it is becoming clear that it is still dangerous. And like all drugs, it has side effects.

I think a lot of my general beauty and good health has to do with the fact that I am not putting that particular poison into my body. The result is that I have glowing skin, bright eyes, healthy hair, and a strong body. I also exercise, am well rested, and I drink lots of water every day, and that’s all possible for me because I don’t eat sugar, grains, or starches.

I don’t use sugar as fuel. I don’t crash mid-morning because my breakfast was carbs with a side of sugar, so I need another fix. I sleep 8 hours a night because I am not hopped up on sugar late into the evening. I am hydrated because I don’t need to drink sugar to get me through the day, one little fix at a time, and instead I can manage get my water in. (Don’t get me wrong, I still drink coffee and zero calorie diet drinks. I just drink my water too.) I am not anxious, irritable, or moody because I need a hit.

Yes, not being high on sugar helps me make better choices when it comes to taking care of myself. It always made me lethargic and lazy. It made me comfortable enough in the moment to not think far enough ahead to take care of my health and my life.

But seriously, I strongly believe that look as good as I do (and seriously, I look pretty damn good), not just because I exercise and drink water, but because I am not constantly pumping poison into my body. In general, drugs age a person. You can find a million before and after shots on the internet showing their effects. If you hear the word junkie, there is an image that pops into your mind, and it’s probably not one of shiny hair and a big smile with a full mouth of teeth.

So I am grateful to feel so beautiful on the eve of a big birthday. And I believe that, more than any other reason, I owe that feeling to keeping sugar out of my body.

The bare minimum, my bad attitude, and the realization that even flossing can’t save me entirely.

I am in a perfect storm of misery lately. I have an infection in one of my gums, and that means: 1) I feel sick from the infection. 2) It hurts to eat, which I must do 3 times a day, and which I usually love more than almost anything (husband not included), but which is currently being ruined by my pain. 3) I had to go through the tedium of finding out my insurance ID number, and finding a dentist in both my network and my area to treat me in the next few days rather than weeks. And 4) I had to make a dentist appointment while I deeply dislike and fear doctors and dentists in general.

I spent my first wedding anniversary moping around, dealing with the red tape of dentists’ offices and insurance companies, swishing my mouth with peroxide or salt water, and crying in frustration.

Here are some things I want to point out. I have not eaten sugar, grains, or starch for over 11 years. On most days, I brush after every meal, and always brush at least twice a day. I floss daily, often more than once. So this sort of pisses me off. I feel like I so don’t deserve this.

Here are some other things I would like to point out. I used to eat a diet almost entirely made of sugar, grains, and starch. I was not always a rigorous brusher, and never flossed until about 10 years ago. I only recently got insurance so I have not kept up with regular maintenance like cleaning and checkups for years. I don’t like to think about these things when I am slamming up against “the unfairness” of life.

Life has pain. If one is lucky enough to live any length of time, one will experience it. That I live a generally pain-free existence means I am lucky, not that I have done something to deserve it. Not even flossing.

People I know who also keep boundaries around their food would call this “A No Matter What.” Part of our lingo is to say that we don’t eat no matter what. (What we mean is that we don’t eat compulsively under any circumstances, because, of course, we do eat 3 meals a day within our boundaries.) So we use the term “no matter what” as a noun when we are describing those circumstances that could potentially throw us back into acting out our sugar addiction.

All of those things I mentioned at the beginning are “no matter whats” for me. I don’t want to eat. I want to skip meals because it hurts to eat them. I want to eat “comfort food” because I don’t feel well. I want to numb out rather than have to do the footwork to make an appointment with an appropriate dentist, because that kind of big-girl-panties stuff is always overwhelming and scary to me. And I really don’t want to go to the appointment I made in the first place because I am afraid. I am afraid of the pain and the cost and just generally having to come face to face with the truth about the state of my health.

That last one, having to face the truth about my body, is probably one of my all-time biggest struggles. I don’t like to look at uncomfortable realities, kind of ever, but especially about my body or my health. I mean, I weighed 300 pounds at one point. I was doing a lot of eye-covering and la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you-ing. I do make a point to live a relatively healthy lifestyle now. But I like going along in the predictable, and making changes and growing because I want to, not because I have been forced to. And that is not the way life goes.

I know that I am not alone. Plenty of people don’t choose to look at the reality of their health. There are people I know personally who have gone to the doctor to discover that at some point in the recent past, they had had a heart attack, and they “had not noticed.”

My guess is that they noticed, but when it passed and they weren’t dead, they figured no harm no foul. I understand. Not knowing can be much more comfortable than knowing.

So much of getting my eating under control was about facing reality. I used food, sugar especially, to avoid reality, often to the detriment of my welfare. If I was worried, I ate. If I was really worried, I ate until I passed out. Not a lot gets done when you are passed out in a food coma. Certainly not anything productive like paying bills, or working on a project, or finding a dentist. Not the kind of things that assuage worry by taking care of the problem, anyway.

The truth is that I am annoyed and cranky. I don’t feel well. I would love to tell you that I am keeping my spirits up and being grateful for all of the things I have, like insurance, and mostly good health, and a husband that I am crazy about, and a really happy life. But I’m not keeping my spirits up. I’m pissed. And I am doing the bare minimum to get through the days. There is no going above and beyond for me while I am feeling crappy. And I am cool with that.

Maybe someday I will be able to smile through pain and frustration. That’s certainly a worthwhile goal. But I am not there today, and I don’t want to make it seem like I am. Just like I believe in facing the reality of my health, I believe in facing, and showing, the reality of my experience. I don’t write this blog so that the people who read it (you) will think I’m special, or super-human, or admirable. I write this because it is an opportunity to tell my truth. Even the less attractive aspects.

So I am doing what needs to be done with a bad attitude. Because I need to take care of myself, but I don’t have to do it gracefully.

 

Post Navigation