Making the CHOICE to live healthy

In the last year, I’ve learned a lot about a choosing to live a healthy life.  “Healthy Lifestyle” is a subjective term used in our society – there are as many meanings to the term as there are people.  I’ll admit, I eavesdrop on conversations in restaurants, hair salon, waiting in lines & I get curious. I look in people’s grocery carts at the checkout, I watch people smoke, go to the tanning beds, and even, gulp, go to the Sonic or JIB drive thru.

I have found through being a busybody and talking & listening to friends, family, and physicians with differing points of view, living healthy can mean a lot of things. Examples: eating organic & natural foods; having one food/habit they won’t give up (for me it’s that “Little Bit of Happiness” slogan by Coke); removing carbs, high fructose corn syrup, or sodium; becoming a vegetarian; exercising 30 minimally, or exercising an hour a day. I have found that many doctors don’t follow their own advice – one hepatologist  has a glass of wine once or twice a week, some doctors are fat.  I have seen pulmonary technicians outside smoking or an esthetician go to the tanning bed. There are endless possibilities to what people think healthy is.

I think it depends on your point of view & what you actually want to live like. If diabetes is in your family, you tailor your diet to prevent that (concentrate on sugars).  If you see your body as a whole, every organ, tissue, muscles & blood vessels working together, you might eat very well balanced, organic & concentrate on fruit & veggies, nothing processed.

My point of view, circumstances, and desire to live a high quality of life (for an unknown amount of time), I concentrate on reducing sodium to a max of 1,800 mg a day; high protein; eating only healthy fats; nothing out of a box!  7-8 hours of  sleep every night; a 30 minute “mommy break” in the day (even if kids are sleeping);  I can never have a drink again, so I can protect my liver; smoking is OUT of the question; protecting my skin from the sun (too much will interfere with medications) & tanning beds will slowly cook you (although a tan IS pretty). and of course, exercising REGULARLY 4x-6x a week (at my level & under doctor’s orders).

Exercise… that’s another subjective term. To some, it means walking from you car to the front door. To some, it means 1 hour of cardio or weight lifting.  From 2002 – 2006,(for me) it meant 4 marathons a year, running 30-35 miles a week.  Some people hate it (I really feel sorry for you), some do it for the end result, & some love to be active & NEED it daily. 

Our bodies DO NEED exercise daily with a combination of cardio, strength training, flexibility (yoga, pilates, stretching).  Our lives will be shortened, quality of health will suffer.  If you ever face a life-threatening disease or surgery, being in top shape will help your body tremendously & improve your chances of survival & higher quality of life.

But… it all comes down to a choice. I have made my choices because of having heart & liver diseases, of being guaranteed sometime in the future I am going to face a much worse dilemma than I did on January 12, 2010 – heart & liver transplants. A very rare combination, intense surgeries, with a 6 week or more hospital stay. So every food I put into my mouth, every ounce of liquid, stressors & lifestyle choices, sleep, every time I rebuild my fitness – it all effects me. I have made my choices because I want Joel to have a wife, Chloe & Jack to have a mother for as long as possible.

I’m not saying I do everything right – I love Coke, I have a small amount (under 300 mg of sodium) of salty snack, I  don’t sleep 8 hours EVERY night.  But the healthier choices I make will contribute to my improvement & quality of life. Will I ever run 4 marathons in a year? Probably not…but the cardiologist never said I couldn’t try 🙂

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