2016 started off exceptionally well for me. We bought a house, I got a new job that was more fulfilling and allowed me to spend more time with my son. Then come August all that changed, one day I got a really bad sinus headache. I have suffered from migraines most of my life and knew this one was different but it went away in a couple of hours. Then the next day I got another one and the same thing happened but again it went away in a couple of hours. About a week later, my nose started running and wouldn’t stop. It was like a leaky faucet you couldn’t turn off. I had to sleep with a towel under my head and it would be very damp when I woke up in the morning. Two months and six doctor’s appointments later it was discovered I had an NSF leak or a spinal fluid leak. I had several appointments with different doctors and it was determined that I need sinus surgery. Now it may sound like this was a long time to discover what was going on but other stories I have read is that people can go one to two years with this before getting the proper diagnoses.
Thankfully they were able to get me in for surgery two weeks from my diagnoses. So what caused this? Normally it caused by some sort of trauma to the brain like a car accident, but since that wasn’t the case I was given three reasons as to why it happened. First, it just randomly happened. Second, genetically I had higher pressure in my brain. Three, it could have been caused by being overweight but they weren’t certain which of the three caused it. I knew that I couldn’t fix the first two but could fix the last one.
Once my recovery was over, I was determined to start getting healthier not only for me but also to set a good example for my 4-year-old son. “I would be damned if he were to have to deal with weight issues because I set a bad example”.
I have tried in the past to be healthier but would get setbacks such as illnesses when I tried to go for a walk, which was my chosen form of exercise, and I also had never changed the way I ate. This time there were no excuses to eat poorly and I was going to walk even if I was too sick to do so!
I formed a 12-week plan to gradually eat better and walk more. My end goals are to go walking or exercising for 30 minutes 7 days a week, having one cheat a week (my vice is Dr. Pepper), eat 4 servings of fruit and 5 vegetables a day, and drink 8 glasses of water. This was a huge change considering when I started I was walking 2-3 times a week for 20 min, having a cheat or two a day, eating almost no fruits or vegetables and drinking about 4 glasses of liquid to include soda and sugary coffee. I came up with a plan to slowly increase my activity and fruit and vegetable intake while decreasing my cheats and use a daily check-off system to show my progress. I started two weeks before Christmas and my mom asked me: “why I didn’t wait till after”. I figured the sooner the better! and what better time to try and have willpower than during the holidays. I would have to do it next year too, right?
One of the things that I am most proud of as a mom was that I made homemade baby food for my son and he never had store bought food. I knew going into it, as a working mom, I would fail if I tried to make it every day or even every week. I decided that for four hours on a Friday night once a month I would trash my kitchen and make a month’s worth of food and freeze what I wasn’t going to use in a week. I also learned that baby food making gadgets and storage systems suck and were a waste of money and that good old gladware entrée and salad dressing size were the best as well as my blender. So how does this relate to my health changes? Well, since I had known I would fail in my personal changes if I had to prep and cut everything up every day, I had to make more than a days’ worth of food. I knew that preparing vegetables for a month wouldn’t work as they would go bad, so I scaled back and only did a week’s worth. This did two things; I could buy enough vegetable and fruit I needed to eat to achieve that week’s goal and it would make it easier for me to keep on track as all I had to do was put it in a container and go. It also helped when I wanted to snack and I could reach for fresh vegetables or fruit instead of chips or candy. Next, I would make my breakfast for a week and have it in a container so all I needed to do was grab it in the morning and put it in a bag. I would make my lunch while making dinner so again in the morning it was just grabbing it and going.
So, where am I now? I just started week five which means I am trying to walk 5 times a week 30 mins a day, eat 2 servings of fruits and vegetables, drink 64oz of water, and have only 4 cheats a week or every other day. Currently, I have met or exceed those goals each week, all except the cheats. This seems to be my downfall, but I have noticed I am not as tempted and if I am, I reach for gum. I feel more energetic, less heavy after I eat and I am sleeping better. I have brought breakfast and lunch every day to work, whereas before I would eat out twice a day. I work at a university so there are always tons of cheap unhealthy meal options around. I have lost 14 lbs from my highest weight and most importantly I am setting a good example for my son.
I fall down and stumble, but I use each day as a new start and look at the progress I have made versus looking at the failures. It may be a slow process but I am confident I will make better choices going forward and will make adjustments as I reach each goal and set new ones.