Let me begin by making one thing clear, this is not a New Year’s Resolution blog. I am not starting in January for a reason. These changes, and this documentation of them, represent a new lifestyle and a new focus for me and my body. They are not related to a new year or a new beginning, but simply a realization that it is time for a change, and what better time than now?
What is changing?
What is this all about, you may ask? As a child raised in a religiously involved Christian family I was groomed on the concept that my body is a Temple; something sacred and special, something to be cared for, respected, and guarded. As an adolescent working hard every day at the chance for a future as a ballerina, I was taught that my body is a tool. Something I can mold and train to do what I want and need it to do, something I am ruler over. Yet, in contrast, as a woman in this day in age, specifically a woman with Crohn’s disease, I have somehow fallen into the belief that my body is my enemy. It is sick when I wish to be well. I have spent years making plans and cancelling them due to illness, fatigue, or pain. I have missed school, missed work, and missed life. At times my body is consumed by my disease and every decision is based on what my body needs. Yet, even with all of the right decisions, at times my body still gets worse, feels worse. Through multiple flare ups and surgeries since the age of 13 I have decided my body is against me, I am its enemy and it is mine. It is hard not to feel this way, considering the disease itself is my body attacking me… In periods of health, between flares, the woman inside of me takes over. My body remains my enemy for not looking like a model, not having a perfectly flat stomach, toned legs, perfect butt. In both cases food is my Kryptonite, the ultimate weakness that inevitably destroys me. Fueling my body is a challenge of the wills, calories versus carbs versus fat versus what it will do to my belly. An embarrassing amount of the day is focused on controlling the evil food that fuels my enemy body.
This needs to change.
I have always had a reactive response to my body: it gains weight, I lose it, it flares up, I make changes. In the health care world, where I spend my professional time, we have finally realized a reactive medical system, while necessary at times, especially with acute illness, is not enough to maintain the highest level of health. Being Proactive is ultimately the best way to go. Making changes based on what will be best before the worst case occurs. I have decided to start treating my body this way. I made a massive diet change last June in the midst of a Crohn’s flare and eliminated gluten from my diet. At first it seemed like a nightmare, like more than I could or wanted to deal with, but now, six months later, its simply the way I eat. To be honest, I am aware on a daily basis how much better I feel for it. In that same way it is time for me to change how I view and treat my body. I am turning it into a temple and tool again. I have spent years discouraged to work out or exercise for fear that I have gotten too far from my once fit body, or from fear that I will make things worse. I am going to shift priorities so my body is once again #1. This will involve changes, some big, some small. I plan to use different methods of exercise, as well as conscious diet changes (this isn’t much of a change), and I will get to a point of viewing myself as a temple again.
Why write about it?
Excellent question! Like many from my generation I have become an expert in empty promises and broken commitments. I have found that if a change is important to me, I have to make myself accountable to it. So here I am, becoming accountable. I am sure to be kicking myself for this down the road when I want to stop or quit but this will help keep me from giving up. It will also allow me to think out loud how I am feeling, and to maybe see some positive changes documented over weeks, months, even years. Plus, I am a nurse, and as they say, “if it wasn’t documented, it wasn’t done.”
So if my body is in fact a temple, it is time I view and treat it as such. Make it a priority. Everything I do to it or put into it matters. I am going to remain gluten free and mostly organic as I have been, but I am hoping to learn to shift my focus from food as evil to food as fuel. In the past food has been what makes me sick, is often off limits, and then often over appreciated when periods of liquid diets and other restrictions end. Food is however what makes our cells reproduce, what turns fat to muscle, gives our brain the sugar it needs to think and move our bodies. It is time that I see it and consume it that way. And as for my body, I am going to make it a tool again, mold and train it to be the best it can be. Improve its strength and flexibility, teach it to relax when it needs to. I am going to take my health into my own control, rather than spending my days feeling controlled by my currents state of health, or lack there of.
Perhaps if my body is no longer my enemy, I will no longer be it’s, we can live together, a happier, stronger, and more fulfilled life. So here it goes…