I was planning on writing this post as soon as I got the results back from some medical tests.
The bad news: the week before we were getting ready to move, the results of my "girly parts" test (Pap) came back abnormal for a second time. My doctor and everyone in the clinic knew we were getting ready to leave for a minimum of six months of travel and fortunately they are awesome. So two days before we moved out of our house, I had a consultation with my doctor about the further tests I would need. One day before we moved, I met with another doctor who would do the biopsy and other tests. The day of our move I had some biopsies done (then quickly went home and finished packing and cleaning up just as the new homeowners were on their way to our house). Talk about stress!
The good news: today my doctor called and said the biopsies and other tests came back fine so I would just need to come back for another exam in six months. Yeah! Happy!
Needless to say, during the ensuing couple of weeks I have been a bit stressed, worrying about all of the horrible results that the doctor could call me with. Also, however, during the past two weeks, I have become a health zealot. The idea that I have been treating my body like a garbage can pretty much resonated through my brain on a daily basis for the past couple of weeks. So I have turned over a new leaf and am ultra aware of the responsibility I need to take for my health. Here's the ten health rules I now abide by:
- Get regular health exams. Getting a physical on an annual basis will allow your doctor to catch any problems when they are small, not at a later--and more difficult to treat--stage. Fortunately I have great health insurance but the cost for health exams for people who don't have insurance can be a real barrier to staying on top of health issues. For women (or at least their "girly parts"), many local and state health departments offer free Pap and mammogram tests for women over 40 (call your local or state health department or Google for the information). I have volunteered to help out at these events for many years and thought it was a good service, I didn't realize how, when you get scary test results back, these free services aren't just a nice idea but critical for a woman's future health.
- Exercise daily. When all of this happened, I decided I needed to take better care of my health starting ASAP. Since that day, I have launched myself out of bed every morning and walked three miles, every day, seven days a week. Walking is free and it isn't hard to do but I used to be so busy/lazy that I would make excuses not to exercise or even walk around the block. Now I walk three miles each day rain or shine (outside or on the treadmill or at the mall when it is rainy). Best of all, this is FREE!
- Take vitamins every day. This is another thing I was usually too lazy to do, but how hard is it to take one multi vitamin a day? Now I put the vitamin jar (and a couple of other supplements that I need) right next to the water I will drink when I get back from walking.
- Food, part 1. Don't drink your calories. I had heard this phrase somewhere but--as I was sipping on my Starbucks--disregarded it. I figured that I drank maybe 500-800 calories a day what with my daily Frapuccino and other beverages. Now it is water and the occasional green tea. Only. I am happy to report that since I initially got the results of my abnormal test back, I stopped Starbucks cold turkey (and probably saved about $200 a month by doing so).
- Food, part 2. Eat as close to natural food as possible. Now when I look at the food I eat, I think "is this the healthiest food I can eat or is it available in a more natural format?" This has resulted in me eating lots more fresh fruit and vegetables (raw, sometimes steamed, never fried, but I'll make an exception when I come across fried green tomatoes), no refined sugar/flour/other refined products if at all possible, and better quality food.
- Food, part 3. I stay away from food that I know doesn't work well with my body. This includes gluten (most flour products are out), dairy (I love dairy but I was having way too much of it, now it is a treat and not a daily staple), chocolate (in my case, this creates instant zits...ick), and caffeine (I had such mood swings when I used to eat coffee ice cream for example, that it was clearly not good for my body). Note: not eating junk food gives you much more energy and saves a lot of money too!
- Get all the sleep you need. Fortunately all of this occurred during a down time. Since I am not working right now, I have all of the time in the world to sleep and getting eight hours is much easier now than when I had early morning meetings, project deadlines that caused me to work late hours, or stress that would interrupt my sleep.
- And then there is stress. Since my email dropped from more than a hundred messages a day to about five, I haven't had to look at my calendar in over a month, and (other than this health scare), literally nothing is happening these days, my stress level has dropped considerably. For my health, this is a good thing.
- Positive people can have a positive impact on your health. Most books on health include a chapter on having a social support network as this has been shown to improve health, reduce stress, and make you happier overall. Quitting work has allowed me to drop all of the office drama and people problems and now I am surrounded by a few fun, happy people so I couldn't ask for more in this department. The hubby is also an amazingly positive, happy person who keeps me positive and happy as well.
- All the other good-for-health stuff: on a daily basis I get plenty of fresh air, sunshine, and fun new experiences. I read Daily Word and pray each day (spiritual health is important too), and try to keep a positive attitude.