I owe today's blog topic inspiration to my friend Dana. She is at a conference and one of the speakers today really got her to think. He was talking about why people continue in their unhealthy lifestyles, with poor eating habits and no exercise, even though we all know better. He said that they do this because they haven't found their "why."
Why should they bother changing those habits? Why should they be healthy? Why is one way better than the other?
Dana found her "why" after her first born child came into this world with gastroschisis. Gastroschisis is a congenital condition characterized by a defect in the abdominal wall. Babies with this condition are born with their abdominal contents on the outside of their body. Baby M is now nearly 11 years old and in excellent health, and I'd like to think that is due in large part to Dana's commitment to keeping her children (she now has 3) as healthy as possible, and modeling a healthy lifestyle for them. She is very careful with the diet of all her children, choosing to minimize any possible complications or inflammation to M's digestive system.
Dana found her "why" on December 14, 2001.
She asked me if I found my "why" when my sister died. It, of course, got me to think and then I knew I needed to write about it.
I remember back in Junior High learning about nutrition in one of my classes and wanting to make some changes in my family's habits. I think that was my first real commitment to taking care of myself. Many of my family members were overweight and I was not, and I didn't ever want to be. I was already very aware of the judgement and harshness of others towards overweight people...I didn't want to fall victim to that.
I had stops and starts to healthy living for the next 20 years. I was fairly active through high school and college, never had any weight problems, made sure I remained active through both pregnancies, gained the normal 25-30 pounds with each, and tried to continue a healthy lifestyle after my second child was born. Some years were better than others but overall I think I developed some pretty good eating and exercise habits.
In 2007, we moved to Texas and I let my exercise habits slide to basically nothing. I knew I was gaining weight. It was only a few pounds, but it was unusual for me. I had everything checked out with the doctor (I have only half of a thyroid due to a tumor in 2006, so I had to be sure it was still functioning properly). Everything was "fine" except my cholesterol. It was borderline high. For the first time in my life, I had created a health problem through lack of fitness. The next day I bought running shoes and went on my first run. Six months later I ran a half marathon and had shaved 33 points off my cholesterol number. This was my biggest commitment to a healthy lifestyle and my "why" moment.
Why? Because I refused to be unhealthy when I could just as easily prevent it with better choices.
So now we're back at Dana's question....was my "why" moment when Trisha died? I'd already made a commitment, so in a way the answer is no, but it's also a "yes" in a different way.
I made a commitment to not only help myself but to help others.
The absolute biggest regret in my life will always be that I didn't help my sister, that I didn't push her more to change her habits, that I didn't get over my fear of her reaction and just call her out on her choices. No matter how many times someone tells me her death is not my fault and I could not have prevented it, I will always believe I could have done more.
I don't want anyone else to feel this way.
I want everyone I encounter to understand that no matter what, we have a choice to lead a healthy lifestyle, we have a choice to be a good example to our children, we have a choice to make changes in our eating and exercise habits, we have a choice to get to a healthy weight and be strong, we have a choice to not fall victim to age, we have a choice to be our very best every single day.
It doesn't matter to me what your "why" moment is...I just want you to find it. It can be superficial ("I want to look good naked"). It can be sad ("I lost my spouse to Type 2 diabetes complications). It can be anything, as long as you find it.
Because we're worth it. Every single one of us is worth it.