I’ve been struggling with this healthy living thing over the last few weeks. It hasn’t been helped by the fact that a back injury has stopped me from exercising and that seems to have affected my motivation to eat healthily too. As a result, I’ve felt more sluggish than usual and I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my mood, motivation and tolerance levels. I soon discovered that not exercising and opting for cake instead of fruit is a slippery slope and a slope that I need to jump off as soon as possible.
In my previous post, ‘Why I NEED exercise’, I talked about the impact that not exercising is having on me at the moment and the realisation that exercise isn’t just important for my physical well-being but also my mental well-being. In fact, I think the effects of living a healthier lifestyle have been most noticeable on my mental well-being. When I exercise, I have more energy but I also feel happier, more confident and I’m definitely less irritable. The knock-on of this is that I’m also more motivated to exercise and to eat healthily. My ‘can’t be bothered’ mood is erased and I generally just feel so much better.
So, yesterday, after eating yet more cake and feeling lethargic all day, I decided that I need to get back to my healthier lifestyle sooner rather than later. Thankfully this coincided with my physio telling me that I was ready to start some gentle exercise again. I was determined to go home and do a 10 minute cross-trainer workout to ease me in gently. That didn’t happen. Maybe it was the lethargy, or the thought of having to go all the way up the stairs to get my trainers, but I just sat on the sofa and spent the rest of the day feeling guilty. The result is that I’ve spent a lot of time today reminding myself why I’m on this journey.
Last year I turned 40. I was determined to embrace this milestone birthday and to celebrate, but turning 40 also reminded me that I am getting older. Generally this wouldn’t bother me, but earlier in the year I’d had a cancer scare. Somehow this made turning 40 even more of a milestone. I was determined to make this the year of living healthily, reducing stress (I am a BIG worrier) and just finding more harmony and balance in my life.
When I found a lump in my neck earlier in the year, I honestly didn’t think too much about it. I’d been going through a busy time at work and at home and felt really run down. I told myself that my gland would go down when I finally got some rest. But after a few weeks it still hadn’t gone down. I made an appointment with my GP so that she could tell me that it was nothing and that I just needed to get some rest. Instead she told me she wanted to see me a couple of weeks to see whether the lump had changed. Before I knew it I was having tests and biopsies. I remember feeling like the consultant was talking to someone else when he started mentioning the possibility of lymphoma.
Waiting for the results was a really difficult time. All sorts of things went through my head. I tried not to worry. In fact, I wasn’t really worried about me but with thoughts of how it would affect my family, particularly my two young children, if I was diagnosed with cancer. It was at this time that I made a pledge to myself that I would do whatever I could to stay healthy and to live a healthier life.
I was lucky. The test results came back negative and I still remember the relief. It had been a few months since the initial appointment with my GP but I don’t think I’d realised how much the worry had taken its toll on me. So last September I started this journey of trying to live a more healthy life. I started running, I was watching what I ate and started dealing with my worry and anxiety (something I’ve struggled with for years).
I’ve been giving myself a bit of a hard time today, feeling guilty that I’d come so far and fallen off the healthy living wagon. But this really is a journey for me. I need to embrace what the last few weeks have taught me – that exercise, relaxation and healthy eating isn’t just a temporary thing. It needs to be part of an ongoing change in my lifestyle. I now know what a difference this makes to my physical and mental health. I’m going to learn from this and move forward, starting with that 10 minute cross-trainer workout!