New habits restore the old me

day_4What good habit, (health or otherwise) do you have?
Do you have a routine that you follow every morning?
Are there any bad habits you wish you could break?

Young woman in the gymI am a recovering perfectionist. Although I am sure I do have some good habits, there is still a powerful urge to focus on what I am not doing well. I could give you a long list of things I wish I did better, did more often, or quit altogether. However, I will restrain as it is part of my self-imposed recovery program.

I’d like to share just one thing I am in the early stages of changing. For most of my adult life, I have worn a Size 4 and weighed about 120 pounds. That’s a healthy weight for my 4′ 11″ medium-build frame. That is not the case today. I’d like to share the story of how that all changed. It’s a story that I’ve never told to anyone outside my immediate family because it is difficult and embarrassing to admit.

I put on an extra 30 pounds from 2005 to 2007. I was having a terrible flare-up of both Migraine and Cluster Headaches. Without insurance, I was stuck getting help only from my family doctor and using only the cheapest possible medications. Neither one of us really knew what we were doing when it came to headache disorders. Plus, the pain kept me in bed most of the time. That loss of activity really put a damper on my metabolism.

By the time I started graduate school in the fall of 2007, I had started a new job and devoured Living Well with Migraine and Headache Disorders. I was ready to fight back. For the next 2 years my weight stayed steady, mostly thanks to the appetite suppressing qualities of Topamax.

After graduation, flu season began with Swine Flu threats. It wasn’t long before my stressed out body gave in. I spent a week in bed and several more weeks coughing and exhausted. By December I was out of a job and off all preventives. I remember spending at least one week feeling as though I were starving. I simply couldn’t get enough to eat. To make matters worse, all I wanted to eat were unhealthy, low-nutrition carbohydrates.

I eventually found a new job and felt hopeful that the activity of working with young children would take off of those extra pounds.  The job did keep me from gaining any more weight while my doctors and I kept trying new preventives, all of which caused weight gain.

My healthy steadily worsened with each new doctor and each new medicine until it all finally came to a head in June 2013. Cluster attacks were completely out of control and nothing was helping. My doctor had me admitted to the hospital for evaluation and pain control. While this one event changed the course of Cluster Headaches and Migraines for the better, it didn’t help my weight.

In the 3 days at the hospital, I gained 20 pounds thanks to constant IV fluids, IV steroids, bed rest, and yet another change in medicines. No matter what I did, those extra 20 pounds would not budge.  Additionally, the new preventive was instrumental in slowly putting on another 25 pounds over the next 2 years.

If you haven’t been adding it up in your head, let me help you out. I went from 150 lbs. in 2009 to 195 lbs. as of my last weigh-in.  That’s almost double my weight before my first pregnancy in 1993.

This is a problem I must do something about. My biggest barriers are:

  1. Pain and stiffness from Fibromyalgia
  2. Frequent bed rest due to Migraine or Cluster Headache
  3. Preventive medicines (at least 5) that have weight gain as a common side effect
  4. General lack of flexibility, mobility, muscle strength, & endurance.

I simply must find a way to be more active. So far, I have:

  1. Purchased a Soda Stream to make carbonated water, tea, and juices at home as an alternative to soft drinks.
  2. Purchased a pedometer (with PC app) to help me track and improve my daily activity
  3. Enlisted the help of a Wellness Coach to help keep me accountable.

…and then I got sick. It’s not just a mild cold “sick”.  I got sicker than I’ve been since that round with Swine Flu in 2009.  The doctor can’t decide if it’s Bronchitis or mild Pneumonia. Either way, my chest hurts, I can’t breathe, and I cough like crazy.  My doctor expects the symptoms to last 2-3 weeks.

How am I supposed to exercise when I can’t even walk up the stairs without wheezing?

I swear, someday I will wear at least a Size 6 again if it’s the last thing I do!

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