I love Back to School and the Jewish High Holidays. Back to School for me means back to routine, and I love routine. (I seriously am the Staples mom riding on the shopping cart!). As opposed to January 1st, I use the Jewish New Year and the start of the school year to make my “resolutions.” (I absolutely cannot make a resolution to change anything in the middle of the winter except for where I live!) What would I like to improve, or change, in the routines of my life? What can I do better for myself and for those around me – my husband, my children, my friends and my family?
So when I say that year after year, near the top of my list is always a resolve to exercise more and eat better to lose weight, no doubt I am not alone. And right above that, is trying to have more patience, especially with my children. But this year I have decided to evaluate what it is that I really am hoping to achieve.
Of course I would like to fit into some of my older – and favorite! – jeans. And it’s so not likely going to happen – probably not ever. This year, I have decided that my weight, how I look, and my clothing are not really the issues that need resolving. Many of us – women especially – are so focused on the scale that we are missing what really matters: the inside. Isn’t that what we have been taught since childhood? It’s what’s on the inside that counts? That beauty is only skin deep?
What do I mean when I say the “inside?” Not the cliché that you are imagining, though being warm and kind and loving are hugely important. No, I mean really the inside – your body and your health.
Let me digress here for a moment. In 2011, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Back then I knew a few people who suffered from UC, but I really knew nothing at all about the disease. It’s pretty awful.
At the time of diagnosis, my favorite jeans fit great – and then not at all – as my weight plummeted over the course of only a few weeks; I lost almost 20 lbs and bottomed at 82 lbs. I was hearing about my children’s days through the bathroom door: the bathroom was my new home. (My kids offered to bling the toilet!) I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and I looked like crap. (Yes, you actually can be too thin!) I was cranky and irritable, sad and worried, and desperate to feel better. It was hard to be kind and warm and loving when I felt horrible and depressed and scared. I needed my “inside” to get better. I followed all of the doctors’ instructions: lots of pills, Remicade infusion treatments at the hospital, stay near a bathroom at all times. I hate to even think about it.
One of the hardest things for me to deal with during my worst times was the loss of control over my own “self.” We all need some level of control in our lives and I had none. So I did the only thing that was within my control at the time: I researched. I read, discussed and absorbed as much information as I could about my disease and my body on the inside. I started thinking about what made sense and I made changes – against the advice of my doctor. I changed my health for the better, mainly by changing what I was putting inside my body. My doctor stated changing my diet would have no effect on my disease. But I believed otherwise. You know, you are what you eat kind of thing.
As many of you may know, my whole life right now is pretty much dedicated to promoting a grain free, dairy free and refined sugar free lifestyle. Am I fanatic? I don’t think so. But do I try to shout from my own roof-top how important it is to eat well and take care of your body – on the inside! Feed yourself well, feed your children well; focus on what you are putting inside your body! I have met so many great people in my community who have shared their stories and I work hard every day to try and help them. I promote a life-style change that starts from the inside. And I am hopeful that what seemed like a monumental change for me will be easy for others. What started out simply as a way to help heal myself has turned into one of the best adventures of my life (although raising teenagers is close behind…).
Fast forward from my diagnosis, and all sorts of unpleasant treatments, to where I am today. I have gained back all of the 20 lbs and about 10 more for cushioning (bye-bye favorite jeans!). And for a long time, I was pretty unhappy about all of the extra weight and how I looked carrying it around.
But losing that isn’t on my resolution list this year. Now that I know how to eat properly for my health, what else can I do for my “inside?”
I can start by looking at the outside of my body with the same warmth, kindness and caring that I would give to anyone else. My body is strong enough to allow me to work a ridiculously busy schedule without getting sick. It provides a softer hug for my children and my husband. I am free of UC symptoms and for that I am thankful.
So this year I resolve to adopt some new routines: to exercise not for weight loss, but to keep my body feeling good on the inside. I hope to meditate, keep a gratitude journal, and set aside time every day to take care of myself. If I can do that, I can hopefully achieve some more patience, be happier even when I’m having an off day, and maybe – even maybe – I might find a new pair of favorite jeans.