“You’re too skinny.”
“Why don’t you put on some weight?”
I’m one of those who has weighed pretty much the same as I did in high school. The only time I ever put on weight was during pregnancy. Minus the nine-months-on-nine-months-off that I practiced for that time in my life, I’ve worked hard to maintain my weight.
Watching the people I love yo-yo with their weight is difficult. And I know it’s equally hard for them to watch me stay the same. That’s where the “You’re too skinny” phrases come from. And I know in many ways it’s out of frustration that I never change.
This isn’t a post about weight. What it is is a post on discovering your health and taking charge of that. And for me, that changed in March 1994 when my dad died at the age of 54.
Suddenly, I looked at everything through a different set of eyes.
It changed again in December of 1995 when my mother had a massive stroke. At 54.
With both of my parents having major heart disease at such an early age, my fate was sealed. It wasn’t about the doom of heart disease catching up with me early. Instead, it was about being in the best health possible throughout my life.
I started reading everything I could get my hands on. How could I reduce my chances of heart disease and live a healthier lifestyle? And when my daughter declared herself vegetarian at three, it only increased my desire to learn about health all the more.
While others were “keeping up with the Joneses” and consuming bigger, more unhealthy foods as they hit the shelves, I questioned everything. And what I learned made sense.
I’ve read and implemented a lot of different techniques by a lot of experts into my life. Things like:
Dr Caldwell Esselstyn’s book and program Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
Dr Dean Ornish’s lifestyle medicine plan
The more I learned, the deeper I dove. I’ve learned from people like:
For me, I learned a lot of tough lessons in my twenties from my parents. And now, as I’m quickly approaching the same age, I’m grateful how deep-rooted those ideas and concepts are in my life.
But I also realize they can be implemented at any age. You don’t have to accept bad health as a sign of the times. You can change it at any time.
What Goes Into Your Body Matters
Hippocrates was a Greek physician born in 460 BC. His most famous quote is: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” In fact, the Hippocratic Oath is an oath historically taken by all physicians. They agree to uphold specific ethical standards.
Why is so little emphasis placed on food when food is what matters most? Hippocrates knew it, as evidenced by his quote. Could it be that big business got in the way? Profits controlled what sits on the shelves of our stores?
The more I learned, the more I paid attention to everything I put inside my body. Every drink. Every meal. Every supplement. Every drug.
What Goes On Your Body Matters Too
Every step you take brings you to the next place. Eventually, I discovered that there were bad things in the items we use on the outside of our bodies too. Shampoo. Lotion. Even toothpaste.
Years ago, I was prone to canker sores. If you’ve ever had them inside your mouth, you know they aren’t fun. As I aged, I started getting them more and more. One turned into two at a time. And before I knew it, I was getting them with such frequency, multiple at a time was commonplace. So I started doing my research.
Of course, I followed the standard advice of removing acidic foods from my diet. “Stop eating tomatoes.” I tried that. It didn’t work.
Then one day my search turned up different advice. “It might be your toothpaste.” Huh? I kept searching. Way back when, the ingredient sulfur lauryl sulfate was added to toothpaste as a marketing strategy. It was a way for salesman going door to door could prove to housewives that toothpaste worked. “Just look at the suds!” Yep, sulfur lauryl sulfate is a sudsing ingredient. It’s also toxic.
So I went on the hunt for a toothpaste that didn’t contain sulfur lauryl sulfate – it took a bit back then, but eventually, I found one. And the canker sores went away. A few years later, I bought a small travel-size tube of the regular stuff. And within a day of using it, the canker sores popped back up. I’d confirmed what was causing the problem. And I’ve eliminated it completely in everything I use in my home.
Your skin is your biggest organ. If you want to stay healthy, you have to feed it healthy stuff too.
Oh, and now I use Revitin toothpaste (just in case you were wondering) – so healthy you can eat the whole tube and not get sick. Try that with toothpaste sitting on the big box store shelf and you’ll wind up in the emergency. Or worse.
Use It or Lose It
When you hit your fifties, things feel different. Even if you’re in the best shape possible, you don’t move like you did when you were in your twenties.
That doesn’t mean you have to take it lying down. In fact, that’s what kills you.
When we decided to move, we downsized to one car. We looked for a place where we can walk just about everywhere. I live within a mile of everything I need – restaurants, stores, the library, a theater, an arts center, Whole Foods, a walking trail, even a state park where I hike. I can catch the bus downtown by walking to the top of my street. I walk everywhere. I hike every week (hills that make me work my knees and legs, and make my heart beat a little faster).
And it doesn’t stop there. I practice yoga and meditation. I’ve also put Nia into my life. It’s a way of combining yoga, Tai Chi, and dance all into one.
Staying in top physical condition means recognizing how your body changes every step of the way. Joints stiffen. Muscles ache. Balance fades.
But if you do your research, you can find ways to counterbalance the effects of aging. There are many ways to ensure your muscles stay fit.
Shut off the TV and get up and dance!
Supplement, Don’t Medicate
How many people a year die from taking supplements? How many die from taking prescription medication?
There have been many that say you can’t die from supplements. Of course, you can find some who have. Like here. Or here. But were they from other physical conditions? Or from the way the supplement was manufactured? In any case, if you search for deaths from supplements, they are few and far between.
Do the same for prescription medicine. According to the CDC, more than 200,000 people died in the past fifteen years in the US alone from an overdose related to prescription opioids. In 2016, 46 people died every day from overdose involving prescription drugs.
I’m not saying run out and start buying supplements. Or throw all of your drugs away. But it does make you question which path to take when you’re trying to stay healthy. I say NO to suggestions my traditional physician recommends and say YES to what my naturopathic doctor has to say. I take:
- Bioidentical hormone cream
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin B-12
Question everything. Western medicine is still trying to figure things out. Eastern medicine has been around for thousands of years. What makes the most sense?
Act Like I’m 100 Years Old
I sat there watching a food documentary, jaw hanging at the man’s response. His disease-ridden body was starting to take its toll in his 40s. But he sat there talking about his eating habits: his meat, his junk food, his alcohol intake. “I’ll never give it up. I crave meat. I love loaded potatoes. I love the drive-thru.” And he hobbled away.
I will NEVER be like that. While I can’t predict the future and what will happen in my life, I can take every step possible to ensure I stay as healthy as possible.
I can live today as if I’m taking care of a 100-year-old me. Because I am.
Who do I want to be at 100? How do I want to look? What do I want to be doing?
I have a role model I walk with many mornings of the week. At 96, Harold drives himself to the park and walks a mile and a half. He uses a cane, but as long as the path isn’t icy, he’s walking. Even after surgery a few months back, he popped back onto the path one morning and told me: “I gotta keep going. I’m almost back up to a mile …”
When I first stopped to talk to him, I told him my name. Every morning, he says: Hi, Lori. He tells me stories about a friend he had several decades before with my last name. I mentioned a recent trip to Mexico, and he pinpointed a restaurant he ate at there several decades before. His memory is incredible.
Yep, he’s my role model. He smiles. He laughs. He literally stops to smell the flowers. I’ve stopped at the wild blackberry bushes and had “breakfast” with him. I’m amazed at his stories.
I want to be like that. So I do everything TODAY so that I can be like that.
Because you can’t arrive someplace and expect things to be as you wish. You have to build in order to get there.
So I never take my health for granted. I do everything today as a way of being at my best every day.
And I thank my parents (and my daughter) for that.