A Journey to Better Health

Earlier this year I experienced some health issues. I developed my own strategy to eat better and exercise to improve my physical health.

A couple of months ago I experienced a kidney stone event. I've been told by my doctors that kidney stones don't have a discernible cause, but two things are generally known: 1) they are often genetic (my father in my case), and 2) are also impacted by poor diets rich in salts, sugars, and in my type of kidney stones (calcium oxalate), high intake of foods with oxalate. I'm not sure why this incident was the catalyst for me to make a change, but something about it triggered me (in retrospect it very well might have had more to do with COVID-19 serving as a stark reminder that tomorrow is not promised, but who knows?). After reviewing the results of some routine tests related to this latest event, along with some other medical tests, I wasn't pleased with where my physical health was, and knew I could do better.

I sat down and developed a strategy that would work for me (a big part of that was getting my wife to help hold me accountable). This strategy was simple: eat better foods (limiting foods high in oxalate and salt that contribute to stone formation) and exercise. I started by making incremental changes to the foods I ate (because I knew a "cold turkey" approach would fail for me), and the decisions I make surrounding food. This also caused me to explore my relationship with food (particularly my habit of mindless snacking of salty and sugary foods). I also was determined to lose weight (COVID-19's quarantine saw me gain just over eight pounds in a short period of time, a lot of it due to being sedentary and eating poorly).

In late July I started being more mindful about what I ate, when I ate, and more importantly why I ate. I also coupled this with an exercise routine to help me break bad habits of ignoring my physical health. August 16th, 2020, yesterday, marked an entire month of deliberate exercise and diet changes. I'm not following any particular food or diet ideology (other than reducing high oxalate foods that contribute to my kidney stones), but am instead making better decisions that impact my overall physical health. I'm also starting with simple exercises, and will incrementally shift to different types of exercise. The key for me is doing this incrementally, otherwise I'm likely to sabotage myself. For me it's important that this develops into a routine in order for me to keep engaged.

I am now down seven pounds, close to nearly all of the excess weight I gained due to the COVID-19-imposted shift to being home all of the time, and am working to maintain discipline and consistency going forward, even though I know I'll need to continue to make adjustments to my exercise and diet strategy (for instance I've yet to experience the inevitable plateau stage that everyone who has lost weight experiences).

There's a long road ahead, but this is the most disciplined I've been about taking control of my physical health, and part of me is kicking myself for not doing this earlier. But I refuse to accept that I cannot make changes that will make my life better, and I also must accept that no one else will make those changes for me; I must take that control.