“Man Sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” Dalai Lama
Many times I will ask my patients…”What do you really have if you don’t have your health?” “Nothing, right?”…So often, they will agree with me but they simply do not or cannot break the destructive habits that have become so entrenched in their lives like smoking, soda drinking or fast-food munching….Often, I hear things like “I can’t” or “Its hard” or any other number of excuses. Sometimes, I will pose a thought provoking idea in their mind. “What if your child would die if you drank soda or smoked.” Then, I get an entirely different answer. “Well, If that were the case, sure I would find a way to stop.” Well, in that instant, all that has changed was that the person had a radical attitude adjustment. Like many habits in life, when push comes to shove, we can rise to almost any challenge. The real cost is giving up the old belief and habits and believing.
In my own life, I lacked any awareness about my health and I surely put my job and convenience above my well being, which was regrettable. I enjoyed pretty good health as a young adult but it set up a superhuman mentality. This superhuman mentality led me to believe that I could eat anything because I was athletic (emphasis on was). It was a foolish mistake because when I got into my late 30s the pounds started to add up. I excused it away. I was working longer and longer hours with lots of stress. I ate a lot of fast food on the run and exercise became a weekend endeavor if I did any. When I came home, I would be too exhausted and stressed to play with my kids and I would frequently find myself in front of the TV after work stressing some more about the World News. BTW, Excessive TV watching is a guaranteed way to pack on the pounds. And sure enough, the pounds kept adding on until I reached a breaking point.
I really started to hurt and my knees started to talk to me. I never really had a conversation with my knees, but it went something like this….
“Your addiction with pop tarts is killing me!”
“Its not really an addiction more of a fascination”
“Denial is not just a river in Africa”
Anyway, we would go back and forth getting nowhere fast. I realized that it would be difficult to counsel people on their weight if I was overweight myself. It took a lot of self introspection to realize that I wanted a better life and that would take having a healthier body. For me, I stopped eating processed foods. I weighed myself everyday and course corrected if my weight was not moving in the right direction, I exercised daily for 15 to 30min, I cut out soda and pop tarts. (it can be done). I started drinking a lot more water, I started to eat slower with my family. The weight came off slowly, VERY SLOWLY and some days it went up, but it eventually came off. My wife really helped and became my coach helping me to plan meals and keep me motivated. (Actually, I am not sure if I could have done it without her coaching.)
One important fact was that I did not get disheartened if I was gaining weight. I simply took inventory of what I ate the day before and I would make changes. Most importantly, I didn’t give up. I always course corrected. I got to my destination with a lot of trial and error, but like many great achievements there were ups and downs. I made sure to enjoy the journey and I kept “stressing” to a minimum. I will go into why stressing over your weight is a bad idea on many levels in another blog post.
In the end, I lost a little over 47 lbs. It certainly was a process that took about 6 months, but I managed to get there one pound at a time. Most importantly, I started to live in the present and not be so anxious about the future. I started to live more consciously and take inventory of what I was putting into my body which is at the heart of what the Dalai Lama was saying in the quote above. Live consciously……
Alvin Antony, MD
Writer, Educator, Blogger and Founder
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