I have to change a lot of things about my life, and I don’t know how to do it.
Maybe I should back up. Last year I went to the hospital for chest pains, which were diagnosed as acid reflux (which is crap: I know what that feels like and that wasn’t acid reflux). About the only thing useful I left the hospital with was my cholesterol level and a clean cardiac stress test. After I went home I was determined to be healthier so I could lower my slightly elevated cholesterol level and lose the extra pounds I was carrying. And for a while I did pretty well. I stopped eating as many carbs, lost a few pounds, and was exercising almost every day, even if it was just a walk.
Then the same thing that always happens to me when I’m trying to keep habits going happened: something disrupted the flow of my activities and I never re-established them. In this particular case, it was the loss of one of our vehicles, so I could no longer go to karate class or yoga class at night. Did I do the right thing and just keep walking, lifting dumbbells, and going to the gym when the car was available? No, of course not. My progress was disrupted and I couldn’t get it going again. Then the holidays happened, beginning with Halloween. Gain five pounds. Thanksgiving. Gain five more pounds. Christmas. Five more pounds.
By that point, my eating habits were also disrupted and I had developed a nasty sugar addition. Unfortunately, I also suffer from bipolar disorder (and some other things), which means I’m anywhere from severely depressed to mildly melancholy just about all of the time. This makes it really hard to get the motivation to do things like exercise and eat healthy. Plus, I’m miserable when I feel like that so I want to make myself feel better, and one of the ways I do that is with food.
And so it has gone for nearly a year now. Before Halloween last year I weighed 203 pounds: today I weigh 239. My cholesterol is 207, slightly elevated. I also have borderline high blood sugar. I’m also in the grips of a profound apathy generated by my diseases and the drugs I take to deal with them. Really, I’m not sure what other obstacles I could possibly have to getting healthy, other than physical disabilities. It’s hard to think positively and come up with a plan for change when I’m halfway to miserable most of the time.
Unfortunately, all of the things that will make me feel better are the very things that my disease and drugs make it extremely difficult to do. Above anything else I could do for my health, I should exercise, preferably an hour a day, hard exercise (according to my shrink). If I want the effect of a good mood after a workout, I have to work my ASS off. My brain just doesn’t come by those happy chemicals easily like they do for everyone else. So it’s not just enough to get any old exercise: it has to be HARD, and I have to do it for a while. Which makes it even more difficult for me to want to get up and go do it. It’s difficult just to go on a walk.
The other thing I can do for my health that would have the greatest impact is changing my diet. Eating less and eating differently would make me lose weight and shave points off my cholesterol level, plus help regulate my blood sugar. It also helps regulate my mental health to be on a healthy diet free of unhealthy fats and sugars. If it was just me, this would be relatively easy. Unfortunately, it’s not just me: I have to take my family into consideration. I have a child who hates beans and only likes a very few vegetables, which means my primary non-animal source of protein isn’t available to me (I won’t cook two different meals, one for me and one for them, that’s insanity). I could just go ahead and cook what I’m going to cook and tell her she just has to deal with it, but then I have the mental stress of a food battle at every single meal. She’s 11: she doesn’t care that this is healthy and will make her live longer. Kids think they’ll live forever already: what the hell is a new diet going to do for them? She’ll just see it as a form of punishment, and every meal will be tinged with sadness and anger. Why the hell would I want that?
So on the one hand, I have to fight with myself, and on the other hand, I have to fight with my family. No matter where I turn, there’s a battle. I feel like I’m going to war with no army and everyone against me. I feel doomed to failure before I’ve even begun.
So here I am, stuck. Even if I didn’t have to fight with my family about food, I have no idea how to cook without basing every meal on meat. It’s just how I grew up: meat, starch, vegetable. I’ve had meals that were nothing but vegetables. They were tasty (sometimes) but I was hungry again an hour later. I honestly don’t know how people live like that. I also don’t know how people live eating the same meals every week, or sometimes every day. I have to have a LOT of recipes in my repertoire or else I get sick of eating things and wind up going out. There’s a plethora of food websites of every imaginable cuisine available on the internet, but you never really know if something’s going to be good until you try it. Which means I also have to have a known backup dinner available when we try new things, or else we just go out. It’s all a fuckload of work that makes me hate food and cooking, things I used to enjoy.
I know there must be a way out of this situation, but I feel blocked at every turn. And I’m very low on spoons. It makes all of the changes I need to make overwhelming: diet, exercise, sleep, vitamins, water, yoga, etc. The things I need to do to get better are the very things that being ill makes it hard to do. It’s a nasty negative feedback loop. But if I take things slow and small, and start with what’s easiest, maybe I can start to dig myself out of this rut. I didn’t lose all of my habits at once: I won’t be able to re-establish them all at once either. Now I just have to pick what to start with. What will give me spoons, and not take them away?