So as I get older and am fully entrenched in my mid-life crisis, I think a lot about the changes I have made in my life and the changes I am still working on. Here are some things I have done differently in the last 5 years to lead a more positive and healthy life. I am by no means perfect, and I certainly don’t feel positive everyday – but I at least try to acknowledge to myself that I am at least headed in the right direction. Change is hard – but I find everyday that the long-term benefits far outweigh the temporary difficulty.
1. I got rid of toxic people in my life. Seriously, I dropped people I loved like a bad habit. I am a people person and for the majority of my life I have surrounded myself with anyone who was willing to be there – even if they caused me pain or were cruel or just bad influences. I had an Ah-Ha moment about the people in my life a few years ago and just stopped talking to damn near everyone for a while. I stopped worrying about what they were saying about me. I realized quickly that most of them didn’t even notice my absence. There are a few of those people who received explanations for why I was no longer allowing them in my life, but for many of them I felt the sentiment would be lost (and they didn’t seem to care anyway) so I didn’t explain. I simply ‘left’. It is liberating to break the chain of unhealthy relationships and so far, my life has only been better for it.
2. I quit drinking. I abused alcohol for the majority of my adult life. Now, I haven’t quit completely – the other night I had a few beers for the first time in a while (oh the headache I had the next day!), and I occasionally indulge in a rum and coke. What I did was to quit abusing alcohol. I no longer get completely black out drunk EVERYDAY which is what I did for about 8 years or so. This also goes back to change number 1 – In order to make this change, I had to distance myself from my drinking friends. Those drinking friends that could not handle my change in habits are no longer people I associate with. I ended my military career to ensure that I could get out of a ‘drinking culture’ that was killing me. So I am still willing and able to go have a few beers or indulge in a nightcap – I am just no longer willing for that to be my entire lifestyle and dictate every single action I take.
3. I changed my eating habits. I LOVE bacon, and cheese, and bread, and red meat, and pasta, and anything that has one or more of these ingredients mixed together in obscene amounts. I make a delicious lasagna that is probably easily 5000 calories a serving. As my body started falling apart though, and I learned that I had to have my gall bladder removed because it was filled with crap – as well as cholesterol numbers that are off the charts (my triglycerides numbers made my doctor almost choke on her gum) I knew I had to make serious changes as well as take a pill everyday to try an avoid pancreatic cancer. So while I am on a medication now that is helping with my cholesterol, it can’t fix me by itself. So vegetables have entered my life and they are delicious! Who knew? I no longer eat red meat EVERYDAY, and when I do eat red meat I pay extra to make sure it is lean and healthy(er) for me. Kitten made the house switch to wheat pasta. We started a garden and have made meals consisting mostly of ingredients and herbs right from our backyard. We switched from everything with butter – to almost everything with extra virgin olive oil. I eat avocados for a snack instead of Doritos. We are weening ourselves off of fattening things like sour cream and cheese by using a half-and-half method (half reg sour cream/half light sour cream – same with cheese). It’s less of shock to our spoiled taste buds, and it seems to be working. I am working on liking fish. I have eaten more fish in the last two years than my entire life put together – I am still not a big fan, but it is a gradual process. I don’t call what we are doing in our house a diet, and we don’t deny ourselves anything when we want it – we just try to make more good choices than bad ones, and we are all losing weight and improving our ‘numbers’. I think people fail at diets because you go from 100 to 0 and it is just too much for most people to maintain. By not denying ourselves and just focusing on small yet significant changes – we are teaching our bodies to appreciate veggies instead of cheese. I think it is a mindset that can last.
4. I stopped arguing with ignorant people on the Internet. I started this blog because I want to talk about everything. I want to learn opposing viewpoints, but I want them presented in a manner that promotes decent conversation and learning rather than the Internet tough guy crap that is rampant online. I find there is no need to respond to the person in a comment thread that flings obscenities to prove their point, or the person who is so entrenched in their ideals that they can’t maintain civility when defending their position. I still read too much of the ignorance and get mad. I let my emotions control my responses – but I am actively trying to change that and emotionally I am better for it. Being positive and responding to ignorance with silence has allowed me to start thinking before I speak (or type) and I find that is working out quite well. I also started the Tolerant People Facebook page that includes only posts that inform, affirm, and entertain (cats and dogs mostly), I think people like it. I enjoy doing it and looking for things to post keeps me learning and affirming everyday.
5. I gave up religion. I still have God. I just don’t have a bunch of people telling me what God is or what he/she/it wants. I am fascinated by the world religions and thoroughly enjoy learning about all of them, but I no longer feel the need to dedicate my life to any of them. When I lived in Baptist land, they always said to develop a personal relationship with God, so I have. I don’t think they understand the concept yet because if they did they would focus inward instead of out… but to each their own. I know that God and I are good. I know that I am not going to put God in a box and limit God to my limited worldview. I let God be whatever – God may be the universe itself, God may be my own soul and conciseness, God may be nature, or a simple thought. Whatever God is though – I am not the one to define it for anyone else. Letting go of the concept that I needed to save the world by making people believe the way I did has made me a better person all around.
So there it is. A few changes I have made to improve my physical and emotional well being. I still have a long way to go. I want to learn to meditate (I don’t seem to have the attention span for it yet) and start yoga or something. I need to quit smoking. I need to manage money better and find employment someplace that won’t destroy all the work I have done to make myself better (in other words, the practice of not allowing my outside world to ruin my inner peace). We need to get a drinking water dispenser so we stop using so many plastic bottles. I want to volunteer somewhere. I am currently working on caffeine and soda intake; I drink Coke Zero by the bucket – but haven’t had one in almost two weeks (the facts on aspartame scared me into this change).
So dear readers, what have you done to make a positive change in your life? What changes do you think you need to make in order to be healthier and happier?