Thursday, July 1, 2010

June was a Healthy Month

Today is July 1, which means I'm entering the sixth month of my marriage and my last full month living in Korea (for at least a few years). Marriage is turning out to be surprisingly fun, even for the biggest introvert on the block: me. I will mostly credit my husband with the fun part, but I did come up with the morning hiking which we now do about 2-5 times a week.

Speaking of the hiking, I wanted to review June because I made my health a major priority this last month. I went to bed early enough to get 8 hours of sleep. I drank a lot of water. I started a food journal where I tracked all but one weekend of my eating, exercise, and weight. I am NOT following a diet, just trying to eat more satisfying, home-cooked, real (not processed) food and more fruit as a snack. I allowed myself to eat as much of it as I felt like (and at first that was a lot... had a lot of double or even triple dinner nights...eek!). Also, I am finally up to about 5 days/week of physical activity again. This month, I've managed to firmly establish the good health habits that were lost when I first was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. The result? I'm 4.5 kgs lighter (that's 10 lbs), but more importantly, I FEEL awesome. I have energy, my skin looks better, my body doesn't hurt after every single workout session, and I'm just... well... happier.

I'll admit the first few weeks were tough. I craved all the naughty food I'd been eating throughout my depression in April and May, like pizza and processed cheese by the boatload and ice-cream and chocolate. I actually think my body was kind of addicted to the salt and sugar. But something funny started happening the second half of the month. Even though I'd still have the passing thought of "I want pizza" or "I want chocolate," it was just a thought. I didn't actually want to eat the food--it was the leftover hardwired brain thought response to stress or exhaustion. Allowing myself to eat as much as I wanted of the good food seems to have been the key for me in breaking through that barrier.

I've gone on health kicks before, but I've never been able to break that craving barrier. I know I have some emotional eating problems at times, but this is the first time in my life that I actually physically don't want pizza or ice cream when my brain tells me that I do (there have been a couple days this month that I did physically want chocolate, so I got it, but found I was much more sated with a smaller amount than before). Even better, after a month of eating good stuff, rather than crap, I generally eat less food now and am more satisfied when I finish. For those of you who are emotional eaters with a slight bingeing problem, you know that emotional comfort you feel with an overstuffed belly? I'm now feeling MORE satisfied (and I do mean both physically and emotionally) with smaller portions of real foods than I did before. I hope this will help me continue to lose weight, but I don't really care that much if it does at this point.

And after months of being frustrated with trying to start up a new exercise program after losing all (and I do mean all) of my physical strength while I was in the hospital and on steroids, I finally figured out what works for me. Instead of trying to do a "program," I just told myself I had to do one really active thing each day, allowing myself up to 2 days of rest each week. So I could run OR hike OR ride the bike OR swim OR dance OR something else that struck my fancy.

The results have been awesome. Mostly, I hike (there is a mountain trail that starts 5 minutes from our doorstep--both convenient and appealing), but I've done a bunch of other stuff, too (like today I went swimming). I invite my husband, but I go even if he doesn't want to (although we've discovered that 6 a.m. hikes are the perfect way to start our day). I can feel my strength building, though. Last weekend, I hiked for 3 hours on a moderately strenuous mountain, something I've been unable to do since early last fall.

I finally feel like myself again. I've been able to read a bunch, I'm writing more, I'm enjoying things I had kind of stopped enjoying... Part of me has been lost since getting this disease a little over a year ago--especially those months I was on the meds, having major symptoms, or in the hospital. If I weren't leaving in less than two months, I'd even consider resuming TKD (my attempts throughout this last year have been seriously impaired by my lack of energy and low base level of fitness). As it is, I plan to continue with my plans (tracking, getting rest, eating well, being active) next month and look forward to new awareness of my body and its health.

2 comments:

  1. YOu and I have the same disease. Keeping a healthy lifestyle keeps it in check. I wanted to let you know of an iPod touch program called "Tap and Track." It is great for inputing your daily foods and exercising. Shows you the nutrition and calorie count. I don't really follow a diet either but this things helps me see it all in perspective. I would get it if you have an iPod touch.

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  2. That's so great you have had a healthy month. I'm trying to rewire my head on food too and am using an audio book called 'the four day win'. I'm a snack addict when I get bored, but luckily work is providing me with a real challenge these days and that's helping SO much ^^. I also have my eye on a cute waiter at my fave restaurant, but that's a whole other story :P

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