I’m fighting myself these days.
Here’s the mantra: To make RA easier to cope with, and to be healthy, you must:
- Eat mindfully (which means eating, regularly, far more vegetables and fruits than meat, grains or dairy, and decline wicked sugar in all of its forms);
- Exercise moderately for a half to a full hour each day (fast walking plus light strength training is a good way to do this);
- Don’t do things that aren’t good for your body (smoking; drinking to excess or doing drugs; eating fatty, sugary, salty, empty-calorie snacks).
I know the mantra inside-out. Eating mindfully helped me lose a great deal of the weight I’d gained during a career spent mainly behind a desk, my eyes fixed on a computer screen, my butt in a chair). Eating mindfully is the only way to lose excess weight or to maintain a healthy weight, and doing so takes a great deal of strain off the joints in my lower body. Being lighter on my feet also helps me move more easily. There’s simply not as much of me to cart around.
Moderate exercise is good for many reasons: It speeds up a sluggish metabolism (banana-sluggish in my case). It burns calories. It strengthens the muscles that provide vital support for my joints. It gets my heart going, strengthening it as well. And doing some exercise gets me out of the house for a good dose of sunshine and fresh air while giving me a wider, healthier view of the world.
Smoking causes a myriad of health problems; I don’t need to go into detail about that. Drinking, ditto. Snacking mindlessly causes weight gain and can cause diabetes and high blood pressure.
The idea, if one follows the mantra, is to keep the body light, flexible and strong no matter what age you are or how affected you are by rheumatoid arthritis. I could repeat it in my sleep. And yet … and yet.
Since Christmas – and it’s been long enough now since then that it no longer works as an excuse – I’ve had a terrible time living the mantra. While I try to eat mindfully, it takes no effort at all on my part to rationalize mindfulness away and eat pizza and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead. Someone brings home a sack of potato chips, and I’ve got to have my share – or more than my share. Matt makes garlic bread to go with dinner, and yes, I eat my slices of it, even though I know that the white flour the bread’s made from turns directly into sugar in my blood. Same with potatoes and white rice. I’m even having trouble passing the candy display at the checkout counter in the grocery store without buying some.
Exercise? Hah. Yes, I walk Finny. It’s a good thing he’s around, or I’d not be doing even that. But they’re short walks, certainly not the sort that get my body moving or my heart rate up. I haven’t been to Curves for a workout in forever.
I’ve stopped smoking, but I still crave cigarettes Every. Single. Day. I’ve stopped smoking but I’ve succumbed and bought a pack, smoked a couple and threw them out. Then I did it again. I’ve never been much of a drinker, so in that area I’m good to go; I allow myself a small glass of wine with a meal a couple of times a month, which isn’t a change from the bad old days. I don’t do drugs, except those I take by prescription. But the snacking. Ouch. I’m craving salt, fat and sugar in a way I haven’t for a long time. I’m losing the battle to turn those empty calories down.
I still have 40 pounds to lose to reach a good weight and BMI for my height and age. Ten of those 40 I’ve re-gained since the holidays. My “skinny” clothes feel uncomfortably tight, so I’ve been blumphing around in sweatpants.
Yet I really, really want to lost that weight. I really, really want to be smoke-free and as healthy as I can be, in spite of being middle-aged and having RA. So what’s wrong with me? Why am I fighting the mantra so hard?
Here’s what it is: I know what I should do, but it’s easier to say, “tomorrow.”
Tomorrow I’ll eat the right foods in the right amounts, and say no to the bad foods. Tomorrow I’ll hit the walking trail with Finny McCool. Tomorrow I’ll toss out my latest blip in tobacco/nicotine judgement.
No, dear. It has to be today. Not tomorrow. No more being lazy about getting out for a walk. The weather is nice – you can’t even whine that it’s raining. And if it does rain, so what? You have an umbrella.
So the battle continues. I started the day with whole grain, shredde wheat cereal and soymilk. I have salmon in the freezer I can eat for dinner, along with brown rice and fresh asparagus and salad. I have walking shoes and a delightful little dog who would absolutely love to go on a long walk with me. I can go to Curves and do a light workout any day but Sunday. I even have quit-smoking patches in my medicine cabinet, leftover from when I quit the last time. I can start wearing them again until this nasty craving works its way out of my system, this time for good.
It has to be today. And then it has to be tomorrow, and the next day. I simply have to live one day at a time. I lost 50 pounds last year one day at a time. I know it can be done, that I can do it, because I did it.
So, having confessed my sins, I’m outahere. It’s 70 degrees out today. It’s time for a walk.
A real one.