Birthday Reflections on My Future Health

My birthday was yesterday. I never truly grew up, I guess, because my family and close friends will tell you that I get giddy with child-like excitement when my birthday rolls around. I’m now on the side of 30 that’s closer to 40, but birthdays are still a big deal to me. I shamelessly promote my birthday to any and everyone who will listen to me, and I appoint myself Queen for the Day. (Someone has to, right?)

I always reflect a lot on what transpired during the past year, and what I’d like to be doing in the year to come. This year, I’ve had a couple of interesting things to reflect on in this area.

First, I updated my driver’s license on Saturday–new photo and all. Normally this is a routine, every-four-years event, but this license photo is the first one I’ve taken that reflects the new, smaller me. My image on the license has been out of sync with the image of me, in the flesh, for a few years now. I’ve always wondered if anyone contemplated the differences, but no one who has checked my license during this time period has commented on it.

But it’s been in the back of my mind. In some way, this new license communicates another layer of permanence for this new identity for myself, one that I have been living fully in physical form, but not always mentally to the fullest extent. Seeing this new, official photo of myself, on top of inspecting my old size 20 jeans recently, have both inspired me to really carry myself as though I have changed and am not going back. If you have lost a considerable amount of weight and have noticed your mind lagging when it comes to acknowledging the change, I encourage you to embrace your weight loss mentally, and the space for freedom and reinvention that comes with it.

The other interesting thought I had this morning is that being closer to 40 than 30 means any bad habits I have could catch up with me if I don’t stop to take preventative, health-protecting steps now. My cholesterol has, thankfully, always been average, but I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure at one time and placed on medication. I was off the meds within a year, but with everyone else in my immediate family having high blood pressure, it’s definitely something that’s always on my mind. I will continue to try to go easy on sodium–using the low-sodium salt, and seeking out low-salt or no-salt-added items as much as possible.

On most days, I’m pretty successful about getting in fruit, vegetable and whole grain requirements, but I can absolutely do better at exercise and vitamins, however. My mom is inspiring me to step my game up in these areas.

My mom will be 80 in a few years, and I feel blessed for her and myself to say that she is still very active–walking regularly, helping out in church, and watching her grandson from time to time. Every day, she takes a combination of vitamins and antioxidants, and has been for as long as I can remember. She does take high blood pressure and cholesterol medication, but her situation is controlled, without complications.

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of vitamins, and in my mom’s case, it’s certainly possible that a combination of healthy habits has kept her pretty healthy, but I figure that it can’t hurt me to start taking vitamins regularly, as long as I stick to dosages that aren’t in toxic amounts. I have never been successful with getting a vitamin-taking routine down, but I think this is something I will push for now.

I’ve said before that weight loss doesn’t end with the loss of the weight. To be successful in the long term, a mental paradigm shift is absolutely necessary. Part of that’s about how someone regards food, and how someone copes with challenging emotions, but it’s also obviously about physical fitness, balanced nutrition intake, with or without supplements, and water consumption, among other factors. I don’t know the full story of my genes and the effects of my past lifestyle habits, but I can certainly control my habits moving forward, so I have the opportunity to wear my Queen for the Day crown as many times as possible.

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