A few months ago, I felt like I had my first real adult doctor’s appointment. I’m currently 37 years old. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had doctor’s appointments my whole life, but this was the first one where the doctor weighed me, checked my blood pressure, and had to tell me things weren’t quite where they should be.
I knew I had gained weight since having my children even before I saw the number on the scale. I knew my exercise was nil and I knew the only beverage entering my mouth was coffee, coffee, and more coffee. Binge eating after the kids went to bed was standard.
I had gone up a pants size so I was wearing GLORIOUS elastic waistband pants and leggings!
I knew that my new lifestyle was not good for me, and hadn’t been since the birth of my second child… five years ago! Incidentally, that was the last time I had been seen by a medical professional for a basic check-up. I don’t recommend this, by the way.
I knew in the back of my mind that my overall health needed tweaking, but it wasn’t until I actually heard my doctor say the words, “You need to lose weight and your blood pressure is a little high,” that those years of not taking care of myself really stood out to me.
I left the appointment with the direct knowledge from my doctor that I was overweight and that my blood pressure, for the first time in my life, was high.
I got home with this knowledge in my heart and something amazing happened… absolutely nothing.
Yup, that’s right. Life went on exactly as it had before that appointment. I didn’t change my eating habits, I didn’t change my exercise routine, i.e. I didn’t start one at all, and coffee was still my only drink of choice. I stuck close to my sweats and leggings and didn’t really think anything about what my doctor had said.
I remember sitting a few times and wondering, what’s wrong with me? My doctor just told me that I need to make changes and I don’t feel any drive to do them. I don’t care that I have to lose weight.
That’s when it hit me what a hypocrite I’ve been for so much of my life. I remember times when I would hear that my dad or other parents of friends had heard from their doctor that their diet or physical activity needed adjusting and it wouldn’t change their way of doing things. It used to shock me. I remember thinking, a trained professional is telling you that you need to change your course of action or your health is going to degrade, why aren’t you doing it? Wouldn’t that knowledge scare them so much that they would want to make the change?
And now as I sat there on our couch, children in bed, millions of crumbs of Doritos all over me, I learned that the answer is simply no.
Nope, I’m not scared, and no, I don’t feel compelled to change.
As I write this, however, I am two weeks into slowly making changes to my lifestyle to benefit my health and lose weight. That appointment was eight months ago and the change that I’m making has nothing to with anything my doctor told me. His recommendations may be somewhere in the back of my mind, but I can honestly tell you that this change came from me, and from what I’ve read and experienced, positive changes in lifestyle have everything to do with the fire in your own belly to get them started.
No number of lab coats and clipboards will get you there.
For me, it was my lack of energy during the day and my lack of confidence in myself that made me want to change. I began to get sick of hating on myself and wanted to do something that I could be proud of every day.
Putting your health first is a hard nut to crack.
I continue to struggle with it now. The guilt I feel when I take time for myself instead of being with my family, the ease of sitting, the emotional comfort I get from food- those are hugely compelling reasons not to move. Those things are all deeply, deeply seated in my brains. Long ago, I was judgmental about those who weren’t heeding their doctor’s orders and changing their habits.
But now I really understand how change isn’t automatic.
My drug of choice is food. Others may use cigarettes, alcohol, or harder substances. All of these addictions will hinder your health if not taken care of. And every doctor will tell you that overuse of any of these will put limits on the years that you’re alive. But those words will go in one ear and out the other unless you are ready to take the challenge.
Believe me, there will be a personal tipping point. It will come. There will be that moment when you look at yourself and think, what the heck am I doing? Or how did I get so far down this rabbit hole?
But that journey is yours alone.
Our doctors can give us ropes to pull ourselves out of the hole, but we have to be ready and able to accept them. If you’re reading this and have some advice from your doctor that you haven’t been heEding quite yet, don’t feel bad about yourself. You’ll get there. You’ll find that rope in your hands when you know that there are sturdy rocks to put your feet on.