When I picture myself in my 60’s and beyond, I am spending as little time as possible in doctor’s offices and hospitals. I am fully functioning, enjoying the Florida lifestyle. I am outdoors enjoying the sunshine, fresh air, and the beautiful surroundings. I look forward to traveling with my husband beyond my hometown seeing the sights and stopping by to visit family and friends. I am an active grandparent that enjoys spending time with the grandchildren going to fun places and doing fun things. Having good health means I will fully participate in an active life.
As I have gotten older I have become more aware that my body requires maintenance. My younger self just took for granted that I’d always be able to spring up out of bed full of vitality and pain free. I assumed that my good health would always be with me and that I just had to get enough sleep, control my appetite and avoid stress. Well it wasn’t until I hit my late forties that I began to see that I was requiring more visits to the doctor. In addition, my weight had snuck up on me. I was carrying almost 155 lbs. on my 5’7” frame. I have never considered myself overweight. My weight increased over the past twenty years since the birth of my daughter. Prior to the pregnancy I weighed closer to 125 lbs. The weight gain was a trend I wanted to stop.
My blood pressure and cholesterol, while always in a desirable range, were creeping out of the normal range causing my family doctor to caution me. I might need medication if I couldn’t get the numbers down. Lower back pains bothered me every month due to multiple fibroids that had developed in my forties. I lived with an unspoken fear of these fibroids morphing out of control. These fibroids required monitoring through an uncomfortable ultrasound procedure. These procedures were getting spaced closer and closer together since the fibroids were multiplying. At bedtime I could not easily fall asleep since I was uncomfortably full several hours after eating dinner.
I didn’t like the pattern I was seeing of more health issues; more visits to doctors and imaging centers, and the threat of more prescription medications needed for “maintenance”. This is not what I envisioned, and yet people around me seem to think this was the norm. I wasn’t willing to go along with this turn of events. I wanted to take control of my health destiny. There had to be something I could do that would put me in control of how my body felt. My typical response to trying to figure out how to deal with a problem was to seek out information that would help me understand the causes and effects of my problems. I am a voracious reader. Knowledge is power; I wanted both the knowledge to understand and the power to take action to get healthy.
The first area of concern was the fibroids. I asked my Ob/Gyn if there was anything I could do to stop the growth and expansion of the fibroids. She assured me that, “Fibroids are very common. You shouldn’t worry. We’ll continue to monitor them. Once you hit menopause they’ll shrink.” The watchful waiting approach was her recommendation. I asked if a change in my diet could play any role in preventing fibroids. Her response was to “Just eat a well-rounded diet. There’s really not much you can do to avoid them since they are so common”. At this point I began to feel that if I wanted to learn more about fibroids it was up to me to do my own research and not rely solely on what the doctor told me. Becoming my own health advocate was pivotal in starting my journey towards optimal health.
Conventional medicine has ignored the role of nutrition. I felt like my doctor simply accepted that the existence and growth of fibroids were normal rather than delving into the possibility of proper nutrition naturally diminishing and preventing fibroids. Doctors are trained to diagnose and treat the symptoms, and rely on medication or surgery as the cure. In many cases the role of nutrition is overlooked as the first line of defense in preventing disease and maintaining excellent health. My story continues. I learned what changes to make to my diet so that future ultrasounds confirmed that my fibroids shrunk. My lower back pains disappeared. I also found another Ob/Gyn.
- Think about what motivates you to live a healthy lifestyle.
- Use these motivations as incentives to reach your goals.
- Be assertive and ask questions of your medical providers.
- Become your own health advocate by researching your personal health issues.
- Apply what you learn to your daily living.
So what motivates you to be healthy? Have you talked to your health provider about specific steps you can take to eliminate the aches and pains that do not involve medication or surgery?
My story continues in the blog post, "A Choice that Profoundly Changed My Eating Habits".