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Take Care Your Body and It Will Take Care of You

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older fit woman riding a bicycle with ocean in the background

If you’re struggling with addictive behaviors or bad habits, you can overcome them and rise above them. It may not be easy but it’s entirely possible. Consider your one body and how you’ll need it for awhile. Take care your body and it will take care of you.

An Addictive Disorder

Years ago in my mid 20’s, I was on the road all day every day working for Nabisco as a sales manager, with good pay, a company car and expense account. I never really enjoyed sales, but it was a good company and I enjoyed the benefits of the job and the people I worked with, plus that my office was in my home even way back then in the 80’s.

But There was a Problem

As time went on I developed an issue where I would regularly start falling asleep at the wheel. It was really scary because the nature of my job involved a lot of driving for regional accounts. I didn’t want to jeopardize my job — nor my life or that of others.

Sleep Test

After a while of struggling I went through a sleep assessment where I slept in a hospital annex bedroom one night hooked up to monitors where they tested my sleep. There were nodes attached to my head, some of which pulled out my hair when removed. The room was equipped with cameras in the ceiling so they could record and watch me during sleep.

Nothing really came of that… nothing pinpointing poor nightly sleep issues that might be causing the falling asleep at the wheel issue.

Snacking for Survival

During road trips I started munching on snacks while driving because at least I wasn’t falling asleep while eating. Now that wouldn’t have been so bad if I had chosen healthy snacks like crudites instead of things like chips or M&M Peanuts.

So I started gaining weight and was miserably uncomfortable with myself and in my body. My mom has struggled with weight all her life and I have her genetics, so packing on the pounds was always vastly easier then releasing them.

Wonky Psychologist

Eventually, I even made an appointment with a psychologist/hypnotist, which turned out badly. In the middle of a normal interaction, he elevated his voice and intensity and started swearing at me to try to “break me” and get me to react to “reveal” hidden issues, instead of my usual calm and reflective demeanor during our visits.

It was only years later after getting trained as a Strategic Intervention Coach that I understood that strategy to be a part of a recommended psychological practice, (though not necessarily as he did it).

The idea is that you need to break the state of mind by startling or shaking up the person to break their cycle and help them to a new one. But there wasn’t any kind of negative psychological loop going on for me, so it only served to shock me into never going back.

I knew I didn’t have any suppressed or hidden psychological issues and have a pretty good understanding of my own psychology. This wasn’t psychological, it was physiological, but I thought he might be able to help through hypnosis. But due to his “tactics”, we never got to that and I didn’t try another one.

What I Learned on Oprah

Then one day, long before social media, I saw an Oprah show about bulimia. That’s when and where I learned how to be bulimic. If I had never seen such a show, I might never have become bulimic for those approximately 10 years from around age 22-32.

It gave me an idea that I probably never would’ve thought of on my own, and I used it to my detriment.

It wasn’t about the information but about how I used it, for that same show might have helped many others.

Karma Catches Up With Us

While there were many wonderful things in those years, there was the blight and shame and malady of bulimia hiding in the shadows of everything.  I had grown addicted to being able to binge and then purge so the penalty of the binge didn’t seem so bad.

But it is bad. Eating disorders like bulimia compromise short and long term health in many ways, including bone density, dental health and nutritional deficits. It short-circuited my appetite and satiety hormones, ghrelin and leptin. 

Even to this day, 30 years later, the ghrelin appetite hormone remains hyperactive urging me to eat while the leptin satiety hormone doesn’t kick in to signal to me that I should be full or satisfied. So I have to consciously stop and recognize I’ve eaten enough even though I’d like to keep on going.

Self Diagnosed

I never got a diagnosis from a medical professional as to the falling asleep problem. If I had continued down the path of medical appointments, chances are it might have been discovered at some point. 

But I eventually got married (at age 29), then left that job after a couple more years to start a business with my husband. So while the problem wasn’t yet resolved, it wasn’t a daily challenge as I was no longer on the road most of the week and for long stretches of time.

Eventually I figured it out. 

I tend to be an energetic on-the-go kind of person. But when not in motion, the sleepiness kicks in. Turns out it’s low blood pressure. So energetic yet with low blood pressure, it’s like it’s all or nothing… high gear or no gear, especially if sitting. 

That’s it… just low pulse, low blood pressure, so when not up and active and keeping the circulatory system going, the body says it’s time to sleep.

Turns out that’s another thing I inherited from my mother’s biology.

Take Care of Your Body so It can Take Care of You

If you’re struggling with addictions of any kind, I know how hard it is and the torment you go through over it. Food and bulimia was just one of mine, so I get it. Truly. AND, I know you can rise above it.

It’s not easy, but my commitment to my body is to take care of it. You can too. Commit to yourself and turn it around by focusing on replacement therapy and filling up on good choices and positive people and environments to help you.

Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

The Best Way to Change Bad Habits

The easiest way to begin to change bad habits is to simply replace them with good ones. Rather than fighting with yourself over the things you want but shouldn’t have, identify all the things you love that are also good for you, and stock your fridge and pantry with those.

Whether it’s good habits or good healthy foods, when we redirect our cravings to fill up on the good, there’s less room and less desire for the bad.

What we focus on grows, so put the power of focus on what you want that you CAN have, and that will win out with practice.

My mom gave up in her 50’s and began eating what and as she wanted. In her 80’s now with many health problems, my choices are clear.

The Clear Choice

We can see in our elders a roadmap to health and wellness or of diminishing ability and health. I choose health and vigor as long as I’m able.

Rather than begrudging the need to exercise, we can be grateful for the fact that we can… that we’re physically still able to. And the more we do, the more we can do.

Take better care of your body. It’s the only one you have this time around. I have goals and dreams for my next 40 years of life that require me to be a good steward and manager of this vehicle. I’m guessing that you do too.

One thing is certain: we will never regret being healthier and stronger, even when it’s hard to. And in fact, because it is hard, it will be all the more fruitful.

Take care your body and it will take care of you.

LeAura at age 62 – not yet my best weight, but comfortable, healthy and not addicted!

Top feature Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

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