I’m impressed and happy for the people I meet who are in good shape. Health is the million dollar lottery, and they won that golden ticket. They figured it out. Somehow they kept the unhealthy stuff at bay. They wear their work ethic on their body.
Genes and family history could have something to do with it.
Consumption matters. Exercise is imperative.
Discipline is key.
I know how hard they worked to gain this lean muscle mass. However, I also know too well that a thin string bean doesn’t always mean healthy. I was below a normal weight—not from working out or less caloric intake—but from being straight up Silent Celiac. As a matter of fact, I never counted a calorie until I was 45.
I also physically performed well overall, though there were some short-of-breath canoe trips, times where too many flights of stairs would be harsh, and other times when I felt something’s just not right. I sought medical help regularly for my shortness of breath and fatigue, but no one ever mentioned Celiac. I worked as a nurse at two huge tertiary care centers, too: Shands Teaching Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Skinny was my number one symptom. I still look at photos in disbelief to this day. How did I not know I had celiac disease?
Now that I’ve been gluten-free for 14 years, have a healthy head of hair, strong muscles and a weight that suits my body type, I can take a clear-eyed view of what health looks like. I notice rings under eyes, bad posture from exhaustion or ill-health, and swollen ankles. I can see the intake of too much sugar on people’s faces or notice eyes that aren’t so bright, sullen or depleted.
When I see a gorgeous head of hair on an older person, I ask them what they’re eating. Turns out it’s not extensions, it’s a healthful diet and proper nutrition!
I ask questions and give compliments when someone has it all together. I’m intrigued and pay attention. I also worry about the ones who aren’t so fit. I have a desire to help, but don’t like to offer unsolicited advice. You can tell when someone genuinely wants to know and is ready to receive it.
My lovely 80YO mother has never had a drink or a cigarette in her life. She doesn’t brag about it, though I know she’s proud and grateful for her health. Her physician told her that her recent lab work looked like that of a 25-year-old. She was ecstatic when she told me this in her crisp, clear voice like a youngster. 🙂
A few years back when I went to the World Series with her, she took the stairs two at a time! She kicked my butt. That made me up my game so I could never huff or puff up a hill ever again and as long as I have control of this life. I like to be able to breathe easily, and a big hike doesn’t ruin me now.
Everything in moderation.
Enough sleep for your particular body.
Keep things simple.
Get rid of processed foods and sugar.
No one wants to be overweight, unhealthy, sick or exhausted—but there’s a reason behind it. Be your own Sherlock Holmes and investigate the cause.
In the throes of an illness and feeling unwell, you’re likely not able to imagine what it was like to feel GOOD. Being thankful for our health means more than having gratitude for being alive. It’s freedom, confidence, strength, vitality, inspiration… and so much more.
And if you have a close friend or loved one who isn’t doing well in your eyes, try a little tenderness. You learn a lot about who loves you unconditionally when you’re sick, weary, too skinny or chubby! It takes a very special person who’ll support you through the thick and thin. And in the mean time, cultivate a healthy relationship with yourself.
Give yourself the love, kindness, and respect you deserve and desire. You are stronger than you think. Be your own cheerleader, and the universe will always have your six!