I did my homework and assignments in a timely manner. I rarely handed anything in late, I asked for help when needed, and I studied in a conscientious manner. But no matter how zealous I was in my work habits, I always ended up cramming before a major test or exam. It seemed as though no matter how prepared I thought I was and no matter how meticulously I had followed the lesson plans throughout the year, I believed that I could get that much better if I pulled an all-nighter.
Of course the logic was flawed. While the intensive review probably helped a bit in the short term, it was the consistent work ethic over a long period of time that was the true source of my scholastic success. And yet....I still have a measure of that panicked student in me when it comes to my yearly physical.
For some strange reason, even after all of these years of attempting to maintain healthy practices, I have this mistaken belief that if I suddenly alter my lifestyle, eating habits, and daily routines a few weeks before the doctor sees me, I can somehow "pass" the exam without giving a great deal of thought to the work required for my overall physical well-being. I become extraordinarily diligent about remembering to take my supplements. I work out six days a week instead of the usual four to five. I eliminate as much sugar as I possibly can from my diet and I cut way down on the so-called "white foods" so that the scale might pop a more friendly number. It is all so very stupid.
The fact of the matter is that it is the daily choices that have helped my overall well being and not the intensive cramming. A few extra milligrams of vitamin D might look good on a blood panel, but if I don't maintain the regimen it is effectively useless. It is the little things that I have chosen to make a part of my routine that have helped improve my wellness, both physically and emotionally.
- Cutting out diet soda and all artificial sweeteners from my diet. H2O is my friend and most of my friends rarely see me without my water bottle or thermos of green tea. I was a huge Diet Coke consumer. It has been two years since I kicked the habit, and I have never felt better.
- Our strictly vegetarian diet has improved my stomach issues, my cholesterol, my weight, and my energy levels. I'm not perfect. Sometimes I indulge in a bit too many carbs (especially at this time of year) and I cannot quit chocolate, but the increased consumption in a variety of the best that nature has to offer has been a boon to my overall health.
- I have been so much better about remembering to take my supplements. Vitamin D, B12, Red Yeast Rice, CoQ10, Calcium, a multivitamin and a few others are all part of my daily intake. My sugar and cholesterol numbers are great in part because I am not as lax as I previously was in doing as my doctor prescribes. (Do not take any supplements without first consulting a health care professional. Many vitamins and natural remedies are contraindicated with other medications and can be dangerous. Talk to your doctor about your specific needs.)
- I move. Everyday. Without fail. It might be a walk outside or a run on the treadmill. It might be a weight routine or even just a half an hour of going up and down the stairs, but I move. We don't realize how sedentary our 21st century lives have become. We need to push ourselves to get off of the couch and away from our screens and just move.
I still have a lot to work on. I don't get nearly enough sleep and my stress levels can be off the charts depending on the day, but I am trying. As I get older I have discovered that I want it more. I want to be like my 75 year old parents who are on this very day trekking in Southeast Asia. I realize that I can't guarantee good longterm health, but I can aid in it with smart choices. Our health is not something that we can fix in a day. It is something that requires longterm commitment and care. Small choices and changes in routines are the best ways to kickstart a new approach to wellbeing. Our time here is short enough. Make the most of it.