Fifteen things I’ve done to improve my health

I came across this post by Holly the Healthy Everythingtarian and i liked the idea so much that I’m ganking it for myself.

1. I got over my “sweat allergy.”

How many ladies avoid serious physical activity because they don’t want to sweat?  I know ladies like that exist because, hey, I used to be one!  I had an aversion to getting sweaty that started back in junior high gym class, because getting sweaty meant braving the communal showers, and I was already spending too much time navigating the Shitty Teen Girl Gauntlet as it was.  Maybe it’s because I no longer have to listen to Erica Jordan make fun of my training bra every time I shower, but I’ve since learned to appreciate the glory of a good, healthy sweat.

2. I quit smoking.

It was a good day when I finally stopped giving corporations lots of money to pump gunk directly into my lungs.

3. I learned to love vegetables.

Poor vegetables.  They are the math of the food world. Everyone agrees that vegetables are important but so many people act like they are being punished when they eat them.  And just as I was shocked when my GRE results came back with a higher math than verbal score (seriously, I was like, But…but…I’m a writer!), I’ve been stunned over and over again to see just how much I like to eat my vegetables.

4. I often sit and do nothing.

That’s not true.  I don’t do nothing.  I watch “30 Rock” and “Dexter.”  I read books and zines.  I screw around on the computer.  Goofing off is awesome, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise!

5. I cultivate relationships based on love and trust, not fear and guilt.

This sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?  But as with much of life, the easy lessons are often the hardest ones to learn.  We have such a short little blip of time on this earth, and I don’t see the point in wasting it in the company of people who make me feel anxious and sad.

6. I garner life lessons from my animals.

Researchers are always saying that people with animal companions live longer, happier, fuller lives full of rainbows and ice cream and unicorns, and who knows if that’s true.  What I do know is that my greyhound, Evan, is always super-excited to play Frisbee, like it’s consistently the best thing he has ever done in his life, every single time, always.  And my cats are always super pumped when I open a can of tuna or feed them fresh food or lay down some catnip for them to roll around in until they resemble feline Keith Richards.  It takes about two seconds of being around the animals to remember that the best shit in life is often the simplest.

7. I learned to be selective about the fucks I give.

I have a limited number of fucks to give throughout the course of a day, and I try to give them sparingly.  I do give a fuck about my relationships (see #5), for instance, but I do not give a fuck about the driver who waited five full seconds after the green light turned to depress the gas pedal.

8. I found sweat-making things to do that I really enjoy.

I bet more people would be into physical activity if they didn’t feel like it had to be all dreary, like climbing the Stairmaster to nowhere or running on the dreadmill.  I run because I enjoy it. I take spin classes because I enjoy it. I do yoga because I enjoy it.  I lift weights because I enjoy it.  I may seem all disciplined and stuff, but the truth is, I just like to do these things.  It makes it a lot easier to go run three or four times a week if you know you are going to have fun while you are doing it.

9. I’ve taken responsibility for my health.

It’s my body.  It’s the only thing I am guaranteed to have my entire life.  Why would I treat it with any less respect and care than, say, a car, which I’ll probably have for less than a decade?

10. I have good medical professionals I can trust.

I am fully aware of just how big of a privilege this is.  Every time I see a doctor and pay a $15 copay, I am filled with gratitude.  I’m even luckier that the doctors and nurse practitioners I have are kind and skilled and take me seriously.  But even in the many, many years when I did not have health insurance, I was still very fortunate to have access to a nurse practitioner through Planned Parenthood and a retired surgeon through the local free clinic, both of whom provided me with invaluable care that I would not have otherwise been able to afford.

11. I indulge regularly.

As I write this, I’m drinking a glass of Shiraz.   My favorite calorie-bomb is a bacon cheeseburger.  When pizza appears at work, I have a piece, and sometimes two or three.  I eat cake, too.  (Although I’m not so much for the sweets…not like I am for salty.)  I do it without wringing my hands over how bad I’m being.  I don’t always eat this way, obviously, which actually works in my favor, because it means I enjoy it that much more when I do.

12. I go outside a lot.

It sounds so hokey to say it, but I get a lot out of being surrounded by nature.  Whether I’m in the water off St. Pete Beach or watching roseate spoonbills wade in the ponds near my house or walking along trails draped with oak and Spanish moss, there’s always something about being surrounded by wild plants and animals that makes me feel a little calmer and a lot less brittle.  (Unless, of course, we are talking about spiders.  Some of those suckers get huge in the Florida forests and I’d just as soon they stay away.)

13. I quit eating late at night.

When I moved in with Brian, I took up a lot of what I teasingly call his “old man” habits.  One of those habits is that he eats dinner early.  (We have spent many dinners out eating among the considerable blue hair population of Pinellas County.)  At first I was like, okay, Mr. Early Bird Special, why not wear a cardigan with some Werther’s in the pocket while you’re at it, but I’ve since come around.  It’s actually really nice to no longer have the kind of morning where I wake up and still feel full from last night’s late-night meatball parm sub.

14. Sleep is not for wusses.  Sleep is awesome.

I make no bones about the fact that I need at least seven hours of sleep to function properly.  If I haven’t slept well, I am grouchy and prone to making mistakes (which is a HUGE NO-NO when you work in news like I do) and liable to be mean to people who don’t deserve it.  If I don’t sleep well over a stretch of several days, then I get sick.  Sleep is important!  It’s necessary!  It’s not optional!  Death by sleep deprivation is an actual thing, you know.

15. I drink water all day long.

If the world were to turn into some kind of “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” situation with fresh water – and sadly, it totally looks like it will =- I would be screwed.  I am one of those people who carries a jug of water around with me all day long.  Without water, I feel like crap.  I made this realization during one of my many tech jobs, when I realized that hooking myself up to an IV of Mountain Dew like all of the other cube-rats was a really good way to ensure a festival of urinary tract infections, headaches and other assorted miseries.  Water has never let me down like that.

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Okay, your turn – what are things you’ve done to improve your health?  If you have a blog, why not write a list like this and share it in the comments?

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16 responses to “Fifteen things I’ve done to improve my health

  1. 1. I found some good medical professionals, including a general practitioner, therapist, and a kind dentist.

    2. I listen to my body by eating when I’m hungry, sleeping when I’m tired, and knowing when I need some downtime.

    3. Music. Seriously. Listening to and creating music are soothing, fun, and if you’re in a band, a great form of social interaction.

    4. By and large, I quit drinking at the beginning of this year. I haven’t really missed it. I drink a bit more soda than I used to, but I don’t wake up with hangovers. I’ll drink occasionally, but I don’t keep it in my house. Some people can’t help themselves with junk food in their pantry, I can’t help myself when I have a bottle of whiskey in the cupboard. I know my limits.

    5. I eat breakfast every single day. It ranges from healthy to not-so-healthy, but most research shows that a breakfast that isn’t healthy is much better than nothing. Also, if it’s your high calorie meal, you have all day to burn it off.

    6. I became an active commuter. I drive occasionally when I take my kids to daycare, but for the most part I bike the four miles to my job throughout the entire year – even in the state of Nebraska. The only time I skip it is when the roads are packed with snow and ice. Total, that’s only about four weeks out of the year. I also save a TON of money. If I have an occasional bacon cheeseburger and HUGE order of french fries for lunch, I don’t worry about it because I’m burning those calories instead of fossil fuels.

    7. I quit smoking. However, when my last bout of depression started a couple of months ago, I started again. I’ll quit again soon because I want to get back into number 8.

    8. Running. My meditation, source of energy, and time that’s just mine. Finding a form of exercise that you enjoy is good for your body and soul.

    9. Antidepressants. Yeah, it sucks that I need them but my bouts with depression are less frequent and I have less anxiety.

    10. Coming to terms with liking what I like and not really about what other people think. I don’t care what kind of music, paintings, movies, books, magazines, television shows, etc., you like, if you enjoy it then it’s fucking awesome. Seriously! Do your friends/spouse/coworkers look down on you because you like the Coen Brothers? The Jonas Brothers? Then screw them, the whole lot.

    11. Learning to figure out what I need from this life and having the guts to tell people. It’s okay! Really! Your wants and needs are generally no less important than those of anyone else. No one is going to begrudge you of needing most things because they all have things that they want as well. Help them get what they need in any way you can as well. In the past, I’ve really ignored what I wanted and needed because I thought making sure that everyone else had their needs met was for the best. It’s not. We need to be whole people – you, me, everyone.

  2. These are all really great! I especially relate with number 5. Holding onto dysfunctional relationships is one of the main things that causes me to feel stressful. I think it’s so good that you have realized you should only be involved in relationships that make you truly happy.

    As for the things I’ve done for myself, I think that starting to exercise has been the best thing I’ve done lately. I’m not particularly fast or adept at working out, but I’m learning, and I can already feel improvement.

  3. I’m wondering if you know anything about the woman in the video, specifically if she knew she was being taped. It wasn’t completely clear to me from the clip and the dialogue.

    • You know, I’m guessing she didn’t know. The more I thought about it, the ickier I felt about the clip. I love her dancing and think she’s rad but I’m taking it down because videotaping someone without their permission isn’t right, even if they are being awesome.

  4. can we be friends? because after reading this post, i adore you. the “being selective about the fucks i give” was the best thing i’ve read in awhile. also, i am usually eating dinner at 5:30 and then engaging in some sort of workout activity very similar to yours…we’d be great companions, i swear!

    thanks for the shoutout – hope you have a great week!

  5. 1. stopped weighing myself. ever.

    2. I try to eat non-processed food whenever possible, ie more fresh fruits as snacks less pretzels/crackers etc (I still cave in and plow through a box of cheese-it’s occasionally) not to mention more nutritious dinners.

    3. Replaced Diet Coke with Lacroix (sparkling water with no sodium or artificial sweeteners)

    • I see Lacroix all the time in the store. I should try it out. I sometimes reach for diet soda whenever I’m hitting an energy lull, which unfortunately happens fairly often when I’m at work. I really need to get off that habit and find some replacement that can perk me up just as well.

  6. I love this list because it’s full of real, attainable stuff that makes you healthier (mentally and physicially), and not a bunch of BS.

    I, too, limit the number of fucks I give. I don’t understand why people get so worked up over dumb shit, like bad drivers, or annoying people at work. Just roll with it. Don’t sweat the small stuff. On that note, I have found sweaty things I enjoy, specifically running, swimming and Pilates. I used to love dance class, but once I got bored, I stopped and focused more on running, since I enjoyed that more.

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