The way to good health and wellness is often paved with obstacles for most of us. It isn’t easy peasy and it isn’t apple pie. For me the road is dotted with every possible obstacle from cream donuts and chocolate cakes to lasagna and pizza to greasy Chinese takeout. These form the circle of comfort food for me whether I’m sad, angry or stressed. So is this another feel good weight loss success story? Not really. It’s not a weight loss story. It’s more a look into my difficulties in eating nutritiously, and how hard it is to do that in today’s environment ( which I’m sure many of you can relate to ) along with life’s adventures.It is my
journey ( forgive me I know this is the most over used word on reality tv and it seems like I’m auditioning for The Bachelor ) documentation on how my nutrition has evolved over the years. We’ve read how food can affect our mood but rarely do we make the effort to feed our brain. We go on diets, liquid or otherwise without really doing much research. This post is an honest look into how different factors in our environment and society play into our physical and mental wellness and how success is a state of mind. I’ve learnt some incredible things along the way and I’m still learning and would like to share them with you. Maybe some of you can relate to my experiences and those of you who don’t – I hope you enjoy the stories and reading in general coz I can get real wordy!
My interest in wellness began in earnest only about a year and a half ago. That is not to say I didn’t dabble in all the different exercises and diets to lose weight and get fit. Women can hold a conversation in almost any field of interest but we ultimately go back to the most favorite hated subject of how to lose weight and how it is simply a travesty to eat that extra slice of cake but we will do so anyway (most of us) and beat ourselves up over it the entire week.
When I left India for the US to go to college, I was fit and happy. Of course in India it is mandatory for family, relatives, friends and strangers to comment on your physical appearance and weight. It was mostly not complimentary. You were either too thin or too fat and always shy of reaching the just right Goldilocks weight as I like to call it. Of course there were a gazillion other aspects of your physical appearance that needed help. At the end of these sometimes thinly veiled insults you were told that none of this was personal. This part however twisted was true. This was pretty much what all my gal pals and cousins went through. You had to contend yourself by biting your tongue and smiling benignly all the while imagining different forms of slow death for the other person. Anyway I’ve drifted a little which I will probably do all through these posts.
Adjusting to life in a new country, college life,graduating and finding a job in the peak of a bad market kept me lean and active. A few months after I started working I developed terrible neck and back pain. I ignored it for a while but eventually had to get it checked out by my dad who is a doctor. It turned out to be muscle strains caused due to my work. At that time I was working on the trade floor and I had several monitors to look at which probably caused my neck muscles to cramp up and spasm. I was really upset. Occupational Hazard. Here I had just started work and gotten this job after a lot of hard work and I couldn’t give it up just like that. Plus I was young. My neck was going to be fine. Except it wasn’t. It was also around this time that I started having leg pain and sometimes found it excruciating to stand. Tendonitis on both feet. If this wasn’t enough two life altering events happened very close together. My two close friends got married (to other people naturally ) which at the time I thought was the most wonderful thing. Unfortunately for me I didn’t anticipate that in their case this was a debilitating disease that stripped them of independent thought and they dropped off the face of the earth. I didn’t blame them
I did but it is what it is. How did this affect my well being? Well, my family and my friends are my support system and I relied on my friends quite a bit in those early days. We all did and shared our worries over finances and job security and so on. So I was deep in doldrumsville with all these new health issues and missing my friends. I wasn’t to be defeated. Without realizing it, I replaced them with three new ones – Ben & Jerry and Chips Ahoy ( Crunchy or Chewy. I wasn’t particular). These friends stayed with me through my long hours at work and through a whole year of night shift. I don’t think I even bothered with regular food much. I had no knowledge at the time how all this was to affect my mood and health. I was also starting to become an insomniac. Raccoon eyes. Fun!
I have to admit I still didn’t put much thought into the fact that I was not eating right, putting on weight and was miserable. It was a vicious circle and one that I couldn’t get out of. I couldn’t exercise because of the pain. I was too tired from the long hours at work and the commute to cook, I used to eat junk food out of frustration, the sugar didn’t let me sleep and I wasn’t doing anything about my work stress. The mirror was most unkind to me as were people. The thing is – I was in a fog. A complete and total mental fog, stressed out and tired and jaded. I knew I had a lot to be grateful for and that guilt made it all the more worse. Around this time, I forced myself to be more social which for a reticent person is pure torture.
Aside: When you are in this kind of hopelessness, the only thing that can make it way worse is unsolicited advice. You know who they are. The ones who know everything and are happy to analyze your life instead of just listening. Luckily I don’t take to such people but I know a number of really sweet women who get bullied by these analysts. End of Aside.
After about two and a half years of being in this fog I slowly started making changes. Almost at once things started to look up. My gal pal G was looking for someone to move in with to a new apartment and so I jumped at the chance and moved closer to work. I had more time to cook and go for long walks in the evenings and work became interesting again. More importantly I had established a good group of people I was working with.
G and I decided to embark on losing weight and getting fit and strong. We were game to trying out anything and everything as long as we were enjoying it and having fun. It always helps to have a buddy so you can motivate and kick each other’s butt when one of you is lazy.
Stay tuned for Part 2 to read more on our exercise adventures!