Taking Charge of My Wellness Holistically

I woke up this morning (after only 4.5 hours of sleep) feeling a drive for taking charge of things.  I have been working really hard (counseling, seeing my doctor once a month, taking my medication, working with a dietitian, etc), but my desire to take good care of myself had gone by the wayside because of my extreme anxiety.  After my appointment with my doctor, I have a renewed passion for taking care of myself.  I feel hopeful.

Yesterday’s appointment with my psychiatrist went very well.  She was very concerned for me and addressed the fact that the new medication was causing me anxiety.  She also felt that I needed to stop taking it.

With this information, she decided to try me on a new medication called Risperidone.  It’s similar, but it’s different enough that she’s hopeful it won’t cause me anxiety.  In fact, it actually helps autistic patients with irritability (so I think it’ll be a nice, calming med).  She also made a few other small changes that are positive.  She really thinks this will be “it.”  Only time will tell.  But I’m hopeful because of the fact that she says there area always options.  I have been feeling hopeless because I thought Latuda was the only one (of its kind) that I could take that helped.  She also suggested reducing my Lamictal (Lamotragine), but I told her I didn’t want to because it made such a huge difference for me when I started taking it.  She thought that was fine to keep as is.  So we made those changes and she said to just keep my July appointment and if I needed to come in earlier to just call.  It’s pretty easy to get an appointment if needed.  I appreciate that she recognizes how far I am from there (about 2 hours and 15 minutes), and she wants to help me.  She also suggested giving me an anxiety medication (a benzo), but we talked about how those are addictive and that wouldn’t be a good idea.  So I’m glad that she recognizes that.  An addict is an addict no matter the substance (I actually want to write a post about that).

I also had my online appointment with my dietitian yesterday and we had a great talk about my health and wellness.  One of the biggest things that I have been struggling with is my weight gain and how I think I felt better when I was thinner.  We decided that it wasn’t the weight loss, but it was the behaviors that were causing me to feel well.  Exercise and eating nutritious food.  I can fit that into my new lifestyle of intuitive eating.  One of the things about the new medication is that there’s a higher chance for weight gain so I need to just let go of my desire to be a certain size and just embrace myself where I am.  That doesn’t mean I need to eat fruit loops for every meal (though once in a while is fine).  It just means I understand that I can’t lose weight and I don’t need to.  Thin doesn’t necessarily mean healthier or better.

I read this this morning and it was SO helpful and a good reminder:

“On Weight Loss, or “What about Health?”

This post first appeared at performingwoman .com on Dec 23, 2015

One of the most frustrating conversations that happens in the world of body image and body positivity is the “but what about health” conversation.

I feel like I have it on the regular, because weight and health are so clearly and closely tied in the cultural mindset…and, yes, there can be unhealthy associations between your weight and your health, BUT it’s not the weight itself that’s always at the heart of the matter.

If you are concerned about your health (and I’m not here to preach to you what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your body — your body, your business), then it’s not weight loss or weight maintenance (i.e. suppression) that should be your goal.

Health can happen regardless of your weight. Health happens when you take care of your body regardless of its size and with no expectations of specific aesthetic outcomes.

As I’ve talked about ad nauseum in the past, weight loss is a SIDE EFFECT and NOT a goal. Even if the 21 day fix and the 21 day sugar detox tell you otherwise.

Here’s the reason I get so frustrated having the “but what about health” conversation:

When we start talking about “getting healthy” (“But I’m doing this diet/exercise plan/cleanse to ‘get healthy!’” ), we’re usually not talking about health at all, but about weight loss. It’s just that we’ve been taught for so long by advertisers and others who stand to make a profit from our repeated attempts to control our weight that we honestly believe, deep down, that in order to be healthy, we have to look thin, lean, muscular, or some variation on that theme.

So when we say “but I’m doing this for my health,” we often say “health” with the expectation of an outcome in which our size is diminished and/or our shape is changed.

I know, I know, it’s different for you. You’re really doing this detox for your health. You’re really tupperwaring all your “clean” food on Sundays for your health. You’re really doing six days a week of HiiT training for your health. You’re really not doing this for weight loss, but of course weight loss would be nice…

But I call bullshit on that.

Why?

Well, here’s a question for you, and I want you to look yourself in the eye in the mirror while you answer it honestly (since I can’t ask you individually and face-to-face):

If you were doing the detox-and-tupperware thing and it improved all of your health markers BUT you didn’t lose a single pound and your body size and shape didn’t change one iota, would you still do it?

Chances are, the answer — the honest answer — is no.

Why would you do a thing if you couldn’t have a visible goal, right? You can’t take a picture of slightly lower blood pressure or better blood sugar and post that to Facebook. It won’t get as many likes as a weight loss transformation photo, even if you do add a pretty filter to a snapshot of your blood work. That’s honest too.

But here’s the thing that you have to keep telling yourself if you want to make this about health: health and looks are often mutually exclusive. 1/3 of “obese” people (not my preferred term, btw.) are metabolically healthy. 1/4 of “normal” weight people (also completely arbitrary and not a preferred term) are metabolically unhealthy. Your weight is not a disease. Your weight may not be causing disease. Your weight may be a symptom of changes going on inside your body or it may be a symptom of chronic yo-yo dieting. It may be something that will change when you find healthy new habits, and it may not. It may change a little or it may change a lot.

If you’re truly playing the game for health, you don’t get to use weight loss as a marker. Because the longer you hold onto that fantasy and keep talking about it like it’s a real thing, the longer the stigma gets perpetuated and unhealthy thin people don’t get treatment and healthy fat people get pathologized and discriminated against and unhealthy fat people are told to lose weight first instead of getting actual treatment for whatever disease or ailment they have.
If you’re truly playing the game for health, you make healthy changes that don’t involve restriction or overexercise. You make healthy changes that allow for more movement in your life and maybe more diversity in your diet. And then you move on.

I recently went back to my functional medicine doctor to have all of my labs run, just to make sure that I wasn’t talking out of my ass. I’m technically “overweight” according to the bullshit standards that say who’s normal and who isn’t, and my labs were perfect — cholesterol, hormones, blood sugar, even my thyroid — except for high homocysteine and B12, which are probably connected, since, due to a genetic polymorphism, my body doesn’t clear B vitamins very well. All of this, because I’ve been making healthy choices.

For me, healthy choices meant actually exercising less. It meant adding a better range of foods into my diet (and, yes, I eat gluten pretty much every day). It meant making fitness about fun instead of obligation and weight control. It meant not having to eat foods I hated because they were “healthier” than those I loved.

For you, healthy choices may mean cooking at home more or getting out and moving for the first time in a long time or maybe ever. And it may lead to some or a lot of weight loss or none at all, and it may happen quickly and then stop or happen slowly but not at the pace you were hoping for or it may not happen as much as you’d like without extreme restriction or overexercise.

My recommendation (which you can take or leave, because again…your body, your business) is that, if you are truly interested in health — actual health and not just health as a cover for controlling your weight — then find a form of fitness that is enjoyable without obligation (i.e. you can take a rest day without feeling like you’ve “failed” or “messed up your plan”) and eat a wide range of foods (without having to eat on a plan). Get some sleep. Find time for play.

It’s hard to lose weight, but it’s not hard to “be healthy.” The cause-and-effect relationship that you’re hoping for doesn’t truly exist.” -Kaila Prins (I don’t know who this is, my dietitian just shared it)

So my goals: eat and exercise to feel good (and reduce my cholesterol).  Eat balanced and intuitively (taking into account how the food will make me feel).  Try to eat protein, fat, and carbs at every meal for lasting energy.  Hike or walk at least a few days a week (even if it’s just 10 minutes… being outside makes a huge difference for me).  Continue taking my meds as prescribed.  Continue taking supplements (multivitamin, fish oil, probiotics, and maybe start folic acid and amino acids at the recommendation of my dietitian).  Continue to go to counseling and AA.  Continue staying sober :-).  Continue working with my dietitian for the rest of this month and read the recommended books.  I will also continue making Bible study a priority and get back to going to church more.

I need to go to bed early and wake up early (I have been getting up early but not going to bed as early as I need to).

Today I took an amazing nap and that was my self care.  I only slept like 4 1/2 hours last night so I needed it (and I’m still tired).

This evening I don’t have anxiety!  Who knows if it’s just a fluke or if it’s because I didn’t take that med yesterday (I’m not sure how long it lasts in the body).  I’m just going to assume the best!

One thought on “Taking Charge of My Wellness Holistically

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