I can tell you the exact moment that my health status changed. I made one bad decision, just one, yet that event sparked a string of health events that led me to where I am now. Stay with me.
Everything you do, trust me, everything, has an impact on your health. Life's chain of events line up and create a path, and while you can look back and see where it started, you can't always go back and fix it.
In 2005, I dated someone unhealthy. It was just a few months long relationship, but it's negative effects changed seemingly everything in my body. I began, at age 36 (just one year later), the early stages of menopause. I had no idea. I had just become a certified personal trainer, and was working out daily. I noticed small changes with my cycle, but didn't think much of it. I was taking spin classes, lifting weights, eating clean. I felt great, and in a good pair of jeans, I was a size 4. I was the mother of a pre-schooler, and newly (well, 2 years) divorced. When my son went to school, I went to the gym. When he went to his dad's, I went to the gym. I was committed, and thin/strong, but didn't see it. My self-esteem was in the toilet.
And then I met a new man.
He seemed nice enough and, after having been single for close to a year, I thought he would be a fun date. Without getting into the endless details of the relationship (that's not what this post is about), I found myself in a relationship that was unsatisfying, unfulfilling, and emotionally toxic. But wanting to be anything-but-single, I stayed, fell in love with his kids, ex-wife, and family, and tried to make the best of it. As time passed, it became more and more degrading, and while from the outside things looked successful, I was filled with loathing. I was constantly being marginalized, put down, disrespected. I swallowed it all, thinking perhaps he was right about me. I began drinking daily, two or three beers, or a vodka on the rocks. I stopped going to the gym.
I was a few years in, and menopause was in full swing. The process made me nearly anemic, so working out was tough. I started to fall into a state of melancholy. I'd eat burgers and fries while sitting at the local pub, and throw back a few Stellas. This took a toll on my health.
In 2010, I had a bout of vertigo and tinnitus that has caused me substantial hearing loss in my right ear. While docs were trying to figure out how to get rid of what they think may have been an ear infection, I was put on steroids which didn't fix the ear, but did a bang up job of destroying my immune system, gained me 10 lbs., and brought on a case of shingles that wrapped from the back of my head to my right ear.
My body was screaming for peace. I knew I needed to make a change, but felt too beaten down to do anything. It took me a year; a year of hot flashes and waking up feeling intense dread day after day (thinking I was crazy, although now realizing I wasn't), to get my act together and make a change. I woke up from my dark haze, broke up with the jackass, and started to get my act together.
These things take time, you know. The effects of negativity, I assure you, wreak havoc on your body. I gained 35 lbs. and was not exercising for years. Frankly, I was too embarrassed to do anything. After some single time, meeting someone new (he's wonderful), blood pressure that was over 120/70 (for the first time ever) along with high cholesterol and triglycerides (for the first time ever), I knew change was imperative. But it took another six months for me to get serious.
During that time, my best friend (who had lost 60 lbs by eating healthy and exercising), convinced me to do yoga with her. She asked me, truth be told, to join her, for a year, until I finally agreed. It was a start. But the food, oh, the food. I just couldn't figure it out. I know better, I was trained to know better, but somehow, I couldn't do it alone.
I was told to try Isagenix (starve, drink shakes, and lose weight quick), do a green tea detox, or just eat no bread. But fad diets aren't my thing, so I did nothing. Food, my friends, plays a huge part in every aspect of health.
While I'd like to say that my a ha moment was a number on the scale or a bad photo (or series of photos) of myself, it wasn't. It was when a nutritionist came into my house and told me that I had control. She sat with me and talked to me about what I was eating, showed me a serving size, and spoke to me about what I had been doing. She told me that I was able to take my body back. Daily, she sent me reminders and motivational messages to stay on track. I write "sent", but should have written "sends" because I have just begun on this journey.
My confidence, along with my very supportive fiancé, has gotten me back to the gym. The first day back, it clicked. It felt good. Though I felt like the girl who didn't belong at the gym, instead of the old me who knew where every weight was racked, I kept going. And in the first two weeks, I saw and felt a notable difference.
Since then, and it's only been 23 days, I've been keeping busy. I've begun trying new workouts -- Buti Yoga, Inform Fitness -- and have revisited some favorites -- classic strength training, hatha yoga, and treadmill incline walks. It feels good to be back in my body again.
While I can't undo (at least not that I am yet aware of) the physical changes like the hearing loss and the menopause (it's over!), I can reclaim my body. And that is a really good feeling.
If you take anything away from this post, let it be this. Everything effects your health. Leave toxic relationships. Stay away from fad diets (they don't work). Take pride in yourself. And always, always, keep searching for methods that support your body and your spirit.