Let me preface this post with – I do not believe in fat-shaming, fat-phobia or making anyone feel bad about their lifestyle choices. Believe me, I have been the recipient of many, many painful and unnecessary comments about my appearance, my body, my race, and my gender. I don’t believe that there’s one version of “healthy” and I have no doubt that the mainstream media portrays the most unrealistic version of that notion. I mean, c’mon people, I am pretty sure Lizzo who is up on stage for 2 hours a night dancing and singing her face off on a stage is in way better cardiovascular health than I am – yet she still endures the comments. I would start wheezing just walking up the steps onto the stage.
This year, I have made a priority to get my health in order. I suffer from Conn’s Syndrome, which is basically caused by an adenoma (tumor) on your adrenal glands. The symptoms can include muscle weakness, headaches, blurred vision, dizziness and a bunch of other stuff that’s a little embarrassing (like going pee a lot). The scariest symptom is that I have uncontrollable high blood pressure – which can go up to 175/120. Even though most of my blood markers are in a healthy range, it puts me at greater risk for things like a stroke, kidney failure, and heart attacks. Scary things.
I have been living with Conn’s Syndrome for two years now. Medication during the first year helped ameliorate the symptoms, but the side effects became too much. When my periods went away entirely, I decided to stop taking the medication altogether. It was never that great at controlling my blood pressure anyway and I think I am better without it.
Now’s probably a good time to mention that I’m doing all of this under the care of a medical professionals. I see a naturopath/acupuncturist once a week and am under the care of an M.D. as well. As much as I love Dr. Google, it’s not my main source of medical care. I have great health insurance and a job that supports my well-being. I know I am lucky. If you can, get a team around you – it’s time and money well spent.
20 days into the new year, I undoubtedly feel better and healthier. The meat and vegetable diet and supplement regime that I’ve adopted has made a huge difference in my physical and mental wellbeing. I don’t wake up with as much joint pain and stiffness, and I’ve lost 8 pounds. My blood pressure is on a downward trend. Still very high, but not critically high. There still are days where I’ve experienced bouts of extreme dizziness and intense headaches, so it’s not perfect. But I’ll take that over the ongoing inflammation any day.
Lifestyle changes are hard. Even though I was never a big consumer of wheat or dairy, I really do miss those things. Along with the occasional cocktail. And the weekly shortbread cookie. And I am pretty much crying about not eating rice. But I’ve been able to adhere to these changes mostly without a hitch. The biggest realization is how much my appetite has gone down. I am just not that hungry anymore. The amount of protein and fiber that I am consuming, especially in the morning, keeps me satiated throughout the day.
It’s probably good to be clear that I don’t endorse any program. I am not on any specific diet plan (this is not Keto or low-carb). Aside from mostly consuming protein and vegetables, I am eating around 1500 calories a day – sometimes more, sometimes less. I walk about 30 minutes a day. And I am tracking my statistics (weight, calories consumed, blood pressure, exercise, etc) because I’m a nerd and accountability helps. Some people might call it obsessive, but there are many paths to health, and I am just on one of them. Do you.
I’ll be the first to admit that I approach body image from a weird place. Like a lot of women, especially Asian women, there’s a lot to unpack around food and weight. There’s societal and familial pressure, self-esteem, trauma, and all kinds of other mental health issues tied up with what you consume. But in 2020, I’ve cut through all of that and started to see a little more clearly (pun intended). I want to give myself the best chance at living the longest life I can. It’s that simple. I’m making changes that have positive side effects that I don’t feel bad or guilty about. If clothes fit better on me and I can hike up flights of stairs without wanting to die, then all the better. But you’ll also never hear me proselytizing to someone else about what I’m doing. I don’t get evangelical about most things (Instant Pot aside) – what feels good now, might not always be good for me later. And might not be right for someone else.
If you’re on a journey to becoming healthy in any or all of its forms – I’m with you. I hope you’re having as much success as I feel like I’m having today.
See you tomorrow.
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TLDR: Be Cool
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