This post is adapted from an article written for CT Healthy Living. Lots of great health related items on that site.
I started seriously tracking my weight in April when I was 270 lbs and 6 months later am at 220 lbs. This weight loss was achieved largely through diet changes using a nutrition system. Veronica had lost a lot of weight by eating clean, but she was coming up short on energy, and we decided to get on a protein shake based nutritional system which helped her with her energy, and me with my weight.
On the surface, that is what has happened. If you are a facebook friend, or reader of this blog that is what you could see from the various pictures and status updates shared over the last few months.
But does the mechanics of any of these weight loss posts really capture what happens inside a person when they transform their bodies on the outside? Can we truly articulate the transformative power of good health on a person’s psyche?
Obviously, not everyone will have the same journey to good health and the internal changes will vary, but this is my story. If you will forgive the narcissism, perhaps there is something in my story that will help clarify something in your own story, or motivate you to pursue good health.
I’ve always been overweight. I have extremely flat feet that limited a lot of sports activity growing up. After high school I got a 3rd shift job, and survived on poor sleep and convenience store hot dogs. I put on 30 lbs in 3 months. That was the start of the unhealthy pattern. I grew to 250 lbs during college. Atkins’ed my way down to 220 then back up. At one point I was at 290. After my wife started eating healthy, I dropped from 290 to 270 just because a lot of the junk was out of the house. But I had not taken an active role in attempting to lose weight.
If you search for wellness online, you will quickly find that wellness is multi-dimensional. Each person or group will have slightly different lists of aspects of wellness, but the majority list 6 or 7 items including things like spiritual, social, emotional, occupational, familial, intellectual, and financial wellness. These are often depicted as pillars to convey the idea that for a person to be truly “well” they need to be “well” in all of those areas.
What I realized is I only focus on a few of those pillars. Occupationally, I am completely proactive. I have plans and mission statements, short term and long term goals, check lists, calendars, and accountability. That has yielded a measure of success in that area. Financially I build and maintain budgets, graphs and charts to make sure we are staying on plan. Intellectually I am doing graduate studies, and I know exactly what it takes to succeed and am driving actively toward that goal. In the pillars where I focus my attention, I am able to be proactive and accomplish the goals I place for myself.
However, other pillars I ignore completely. It is feast or famine. Either I am completely engaged and proactive or I am completely disengaged and reactive. There is very little in between. This came to a head after my wife began changing our diet at home. I started seeing a little reward for her efforts due to the changes in food available. That of course was completely reactive in nature, yet I thought it was my success. My wife didn’t see it that way.
It’s amazing how our spouses are able to challenge us at the very core of our being. She challenged me to acknowledge the growing disparity between us physically. “But I am losing weight,” I replied. Yet only one of us was doing so proactively. It was affecting our marriage, not physically as much as emotionally and spiritually. Here is an area that she is so completely engaged in and focused on that I am completely disengaged and reactive about. I knew I had to change, not for the physical effects, but because her health journey was revealing an inconsistency in my own psyche; that my wellness was completely lopsided.
So I began to focus on being proactive with my physical health. A few attempts at serious exercise made my flat feet problem resurface. In February I had my first foot reconstructed. This surgery has a particularly long recovery time, and I was unable to do any meaningful exercise for months. I had no real physical changes, in fact I was worse off physically, but I was being proactive. I had a plan, and was working it, and that changed me internally. After the first surgery, we started the nutrition plan. I knew I needed a plan that would lend itself to my hectic schedule and provide the structure needed to succeed. The protein shakes and various supplements are all included and is very portable. I take some shakes and simple snacks to work, and the decision on what to eat is removed. I am proactive about the foods, but also about the realities of a busy schedule.
My second surgery was in June, and again came the long recovery with little exercise. The nutrition plan has helped me lose during that recovery time, but that is not as important as the shift to intentionality.
Not everyone will have as drastic a step as two major surgeries to be intentional about their health wellness. However, everyone who wants to be healthy, or “well” in any area, must make a conscious choice to be intentional. Balanced lives mean we are intentional about our wellness in all of the pillars. If any pillar becomes something we ignore, our wellness as a person is seriously undermined. For me that was health. I have some other pillars to work on as well. You may have some pillar that needs work. I’d challenge you to be intentional in whatever area you may be falling behind in.