I’ve started another new blog. My goal is to help myself change direction and become more healthy as time passes, rather than less healthy. My first post was the last post on this blog, Living Well Until We Die. This post includes my second post on Walking Back Home.
I wrote this as my ‘about’ page, but it’s really just a post that explains my purpose in starting Walking Back Home on Health Blogs. (If you want to write about health, you can sign up for a free blog on healthblogs.org.)
Why Am I Here?
No, I’m not asking an existential question. I finally quit asking that question a few years back, maybe in a previous decade of my life. I used to try to figure out the meaning of existence, of my existence. There are many possible answers, some based in religion, some based in science, and some random thoughts of friends like the one who said, “I don’t wonder about the meaning of existence. There is no meaning.”
It Is What It Is
Whenever it was that I decided I did not need to know why I was here, I gained a certain freedom to live without trying to figure it all out. I’m still prone to asking questions that are too big for answers, once in awhile, but more often now I try not to ask those questions. It seems so much easier to simply want to do something good before I die.
“Why” Reduced to a Pithy Saying
I like the saying that says, “If one person breathed easier, because you lived, you did not live in vain.” Or, something like that. But, seriously, I don’t want to look back on my life at some future point and think of all the wasted potential. Ha! I don’t even want to look back on my life now and think of all the wasted potential! That’s too depressing!
Missed Opportunities, New Opportunities Ahead
I have lost many opportunities in my life by being afraid to discover what I really cared about and by not being willing to live my life to the fullest. I have been afraid, far too many times, to take chances and put myself on the line. I have been indecisive, and I have never been entirely sure what I should do with my life. And, the years have continued to slip away behind me. Unfortunately, I’m still that way to some degree. But, in spite of my self-doubts and indecision, I’ve plowed along.
Remembering My Grandmother’s Garden
I’m thinking of walking barefoot in the dirt field that was beside my grandmother’s house. It was bigger than the entire piece of land my current house sits on. My grandmother worked hard, and planted, and hoed, and weeded, and harvested and canned vegetables. I only visited. I did not live there. But, at least once or twice I had the opportunity to walk behind the horse my uncle used to plow that garden.
My Life as a Garden
I’m thinking about my life as a garden, a huge field. I’ve been walking behind an old, slow horse that’s wearing a collar and pulling a plow with a single blade. I’ve been plowing that field, behind that horse, slowly, up one row and down another. It’s taken my whole life to be who I am now. That’s nothing profound. It’s true for each of us. We are who we are in this moment. We have behind us what has been. We have before us what will be. All we can know is that we have a piece of land (who we are, and how we live). We can till and fertilize the soil, and plant, weed, and water the new growth. We can thin out the parts that aren’t worth keeping. It takes a tremendous amount of work. We can just let it go, and let it grow however it will. Or, we can work the garden. As with a garden, there is much that is up to me, and there is much that is beyond my control.
So, Why Am I HERE, On Healthblogs?
Well, for one thing, I know the person who started healthblogs.org, and she’s been asking me to blog here for years. But, I’m not really doing it for her. If I were, I would have done it years ago. I’m doing it now, because I want to find a way to hold myself accountable for what will happen next in the ‘garden’ of my life, at least in the areas that depend on me for making the right choices and taking the right actions.
I’m at a point in my life where I need to do more than know that I need to move more and eat less. It’s not really about food or fat or diets. It’s about health. I’ve eaten what I wanted for long enough that my BMI is higher than it should be, and my cholesterol is creeping up. I’ve lived more in my head than in my body for most of my life, and I’ve thought about being physically active way more than I’ve ever been physically active. I’ve valued the life of the mind. But, even that life is at risk if I let inactivity and wrong foods, or too much of my favorite foods, take away my physical health.
I See It All the Time. It’s Time to Make It Personal
I work in health care. I can look at myself, and those I work with (other employees), and see people who do not take care of their bodies. We carry too much weight. Our feet and knees and hips hurt. Look at us, and you’ll see people who walk with a limp or some kind of adjustment to gait, trying to manage to work 12 hours on concrete floors. We eat junk food and take-out. We work long, hard hours. We abuse our bodies trying to take care of other people who have abused their bodies. Believe me, when I help you, after you have abused your body for your entire life, I am putting my own body at risk. I have to constantly remember to ‘work smart’ and use good body mechanics in order to avoid hurting myself while trying to help someone who cannot help himself or herself.
A Matter of Perspective
I’ve not been my ideal weight for decades. I’ve not been grossly out of range, but I’ve let it creep up. It’s easy to feel small and healthy when the people you know are bigger and less healthy. I’ll give you an example. Several years ago, I briefly tried to live in a healthier way. (This is something I’ve done off and on throughout my entire life. I’ve tried to think of it as being healthier, not as dieting. I’ve just tried to change the way I eat, and that’s usually lasted a short time, before I’ve returned to eating the foods I wanted to eat.) I must have lost ten or fifteen pounds. My neighbor and friend, someone who weighed more than one hundred pounds more than I did, said, “You’re anorexic! Have a hissy (hysterectomy), and then you can eat all you want.” I still do not know exactly what she meant, because I was bigger than two anorexic women combined, and I don’t know how a gynecologic surgery would lead to the opportunity for unlimited eating without consequences. But, that friend was always good for interesting comments and memorable stories, so it did not matter if it made sense to me. It made sense to her, so I filed it away, and eventually I went back to my less-than-healthy, or at least inconsistently healthy, food choices.
Is It Not Too Late For Me?
After my bigger-than-me friend insisted I was anorexic, my mom suggested I get to know some people who were smaller than me, so I’d not be able to feel small beside them. She was not saying anything bad about my bigger friends. She was trying to get me to see that my perspective was warped by my environment. She made a good point about how we make choices, and how we rationalize behavior. Much of how we see ourselves is based on our experiences and our perception of the world around us. When people decide to change behaviors, they have to change environments. When people want to stop drinking, they have to stop going to bars. But, how can we stop eating too much of the wrong kinds of food? We can’t just stop being around food. If we live in a world where we are all eating too much and exercising too little, it seems like the normal thing to do. So, how can we change? How can I change?
Why I’m Here, Revisited
This brings me back to why I’ve decided to write this blog. I’ve signed up for healthblogs.org, because I’m not very good at taking action. I’m a procrastinator. I’m not very good at doing what I need to do for ME. I’m good at taking care of other people. I’m not so good at taking care of myself. I’ve seen what not taking care of oneself does to the body. I’ve seen the damage done by people who did not mean to hurt themselves, good people who just lived their lives and ended up with all kinds of health problems. There is no reason for me to end up that way. I have seen what happens when people don’t take care of themselves. Why do I still eat things that will increase my body mass, my cholesterol, my triglycerides, and my blood sugar? I do not currently have problems with all of those things, but I could, and I probably will if I do not make specific changes to take care of my body. I have seen the damage people have done to their bodies by living ‘normal’ (in this country and this culture) lives. I will have no excuse if I become a victim of my own inaction.
My Amazing Diet (2 weeks of my entire life)
I won’t ask you to exercise with me or change your eating habits. That is a personal decision that each of us must make for ourselves. I don’t even know if I will be able to do it. I know I should do it. I know I need to do it. I know how I felt in the past when I was my best body size and my most fit. I know how I felt in the past when I ate an amazing diet (specific food choices, not ‘weight loss diet’) that I’ll write about some day. I’ll probably try to eat that way again, with the food choices that made me feel so amazing. I only ate that way for two weeks of my entire life, and it was almost twenty years ago, but it was so good, and so amazing, I still talk about it. Why have I not eaten in that amazing way for all this time, knowing how good it made me feel? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe it has been a combination of inertia and eating foods I really enjoy (with lots of fat and sugar and salt in them). Those foods that treat us so badly taste so good.
My Invitation to You
For most of my life, I’ve taken the easy route. Now, I’m trying to change direction and change the future course of events. I invite you to walk with me, and keep me company, as I begin walking back home to my best and healthiest self.