Don’t call it a diet–call it a lifestyle change

By Ox Drover

I slipped into an unhealthy lifestyle after my husband died six years ago. Slowly I let things deteriorate until I had gained a significant amount of weight, about 10 pounds a year. I started to feel bad and wasn’t really sure just why, but in the back of my mind I knew I had ignored the “red flags” of that needle on my scale creeping up. I had been in “denial” with, “Oh, it’s just a couple of pounds.”

Many times I have realized that my life has been “out of whack” just a little bit at a time, that I have been doing unhealthy things that didn’t immediately impact my life dramatically, but just a “little bit at a time.” Like a bucket filling up one drop at a time, eventually it gets full, if we don’t stop the dripping.

With my weight and my health problems beginning to become apparent, I realized I couldn’t continue to do the unhealthy things I had been doing and continue to enjoy good health. I started to have a little swelling in my feet, and I had always eaten a great deal of salt. It couldn’t be the salt, could it? I was discussing this (really, arguing with) my young physician and I told her, “Well, I’ve always eaten a large amount of salt and it never hurt me before!”

She looked at me and laughed and said, “Well, you’ve never been this old before!” I laughed too, but she was right! I had to quit being in denial that all the little unhealthy things I was doing in my food and exercise lifestyle were not adversely effecting my life and my health. I needed to alter my lifestyle, not just my “diet.”

I realize that I have done other unhealthy things as well. I have allowed others within my circle of family and friends to contribute to this unhealthy way of doing things. It isn’t just a matter of “going on a diet” and shedding a few pounds and then going back to the way things were. It isn’t just a matter of telling a person to stop treating me the way they were, and then go back to the way things were. It is a matter of lifestyle changes that are consistent and long lasting.

Stop and think

With the matter of my nutritional intake and my exercise regimen, I had to actually stop and think every time I went to the kitchen. I had to make plans in advance of how I would fix a meal and had to shop with more forethought, rather than just “grabbing” something out of the pantry and throwing it on the stove.

How many calories, how much sodium, did I have the ingredients I needed? It wasn’t quite as easy any more to put a meal on the table. It required me to actually meal plan days in advance, to shop for those items, to rearrange my budget to take these increased costs for “low sodium” products into account instead of cooking the way I had and following the habits I had for forty years.

I had to do the same thing with my relationships, taking into account the behavior of others in my life—what I would tolerate and what I wouldn’t. What would my boundaries be? Just like I don’t want to take all the taste and enjoyment out of my food in order to “eat healthy,” I don’t want to take all the enjoyment and pleasure out of my relationships either, but at the same time, I can’t tolerate a lot of substances that are toxic to my health, or relationships that are toxic to my soul.


I have to come to a balance of enjoyment and toleration. There are things I have to eat now that are not my favorites, but I know they are good for me, so I eat them. There are foods that I really enjoy but I know are not good for me at all, so I must entirely avoid them. There are foods that I can enjoy in moderation, or in small amounts. The same applies to the relationships and in people in my life.

My son and I have a friend we dearly love, but who is married to a woman neither of us can stand. While we want to maintain a friendship with him, and visit with him, we know that we must have some association with his wife as well. I sort of look at it like eating my favorite biscuits and gravy. I can have small amounts once in a while, but can’t take very much or very often.

In the past when I had weight problems, I would change my eating habits temporarily, but as soon as I lost a few pounds, I went back to eating in an unhealthy manner. I think I have done the same thing when dealing with people in my life who were unhealthy or toxic. I would get them (or people like them) out of my life for a while, sort of like a “crash diet,” but then when I felt better, go back to the old dysfunctional and unhealthy lifestyle.

Now, in my emotional and relationship life, I have made a commitment to a LIFESTYLE CHANGE, just as I have in my dietary and nutritional status. I’m not just on a “short term diet.” I am making healthy choices for life. I am working on living a balanced life, a healthy life, and not “slipping” off of a short term change, back into the old unhealthy habits.

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eat more bananas

I would like to take this opportunity to bring this thread back up and to make a plea to everyone here on LF to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR HEALTH.

Yesterday I got a telephone call from a friend that “hates to go to the doctor” and I knew she had high blood pressure and wasn’t taking good care of it but I didn’t say much to her about it.

A half hour into the conversation she said “Oh, I woke up this morning with my right arm tingling and I can’t hold things in that hand any more, if I pick something up it drops out of that hand”

The FIRST thing that went through my head was STROKE!

I instructed her to have her husband drive her to the nearest Emergency Department IMMEDIATELY…

She refused, so I told her to have him bring her here. He did and her right hand was so weak that she could not even make a fist. I instructed him to take her to the ER immediately. She refused. I INSISTED. and called her family to report that I thought she had had a stroke.

Long story short, she had a blood pressure of 230/120 and they kept her in the hospital….and are doing all kinds of tests and YES, SHE HAD HAD A STROKE.

While I do feel a bit “guilty” about not “nagging” her more about not taking care of her blood pressure and getting more regular check ups, I KNOW in my heart it would not have done any good.

So I am putting in “Nurse Joyce’s informational moment” here on LF that WE MUST ALL PUT OUR OWN HEALTH FIRST BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE…. please, if you have chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, or even high stress, take the time, FIND the time and FIND the way (even without insurance) to take care of your health.

If you have “unhealthy habits” like smoking or drinking too much, please FIND a way to stop those and eat a good and healthy diet, low in fats and salt, increase your exercise if you are physically able at all…and see a physician for treatment and follow those treatment prescriptions.

Be proactive in taking care of yourself. God bless.

Thank you for bringing this thread up again, Oxy. I hope your friend is going to be OK.

I will put my own two cents based on my own experience. Several years ago I lost my health insurance and couldn’t afford any. After years of regular, faithful checkups with my doctor of choice, I found myself unable to afford to go at all, and very afraid of getting sick. Thankfully, I am a healthy person.

I did have a couple of health scares, I believe they were brought on by stress (which many of us have!)

My solution which I thought would be just temporary until I could get a job with insurance (it turned out to take me 5 years!) was to learn everything I could about how to stay healthy. I made all sorts of lifestyle and diet changes. I focused on prevention and simple treatments for mild things. I will say that the changes I made are personal and I believe in promoting individual freedom of choice here, so I won’t preach. But I wound up, for these past several years, not only getting healthier, but learning all sorts of very cheap and effective (and safe) home remedies, most of them what you would call “alternative.” For instance, cold and flu remedies. I researched very carefully and was very cautious. Turns out, I’m good at healing myself of these mild things.

I now have a job and health insurance is restored so I can afford screening tests or emergency care if needed, but I still have all the knowledge I made myself learn during those years.

My plug is to encourage everyone to take your health seriously, consult with professionals if you can afford it and when you need it, but if you are too poor to go to the doctor, do some research and learn other things you can do to take care of yourself. Build up your immune system and avoid as many toxic things as possible. Learn to listen to your body. Take care of your stress and emotional state, as that can eventually result in physical illness. And don’t give up hope if it seems hopeless — keep searching; the answer(s) are out there!!!

That is just me, being encouraging. But I do deeply believe this is a personal choice, how to take care of yourself. I have found that the best “medicine” for preventing illness of any sort is to pay attention to what we put in and on our bodies (including what we breathe in). And keep these things as clean and pure as possible. As well, try to “keep pure thoughts.” (it took me awhile to catch on to what that means, but it really is important).

Thanks, Oxy.

Great information 20 years, I am glad that you are taking a PROACTIVE STANCE ABOUT YOUR HEALTH, but keep in mind that there is a lot of FALSE information out there on the Internet about health issues.

So please I strongly suggest that if you are seeking health information on the internet go to respected sources Mayo Clinic and other legitimate sites…American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and other legitimate sources of information.

There ARE alternative treatments and preventions for all kinds of health issues. Here is one for example that I just implemented for my son D who has gout. He got the BAD GENE DNA for gout and so while diet is important in preventing gout attacks as well as the “silent” damage that gout can do to joints and kidneys etc. he is on allopurinal which is a drug that I don’t really like BUT when you weigh the pro versus con, in hhis case, it is the better of the two options…but I also try to keep up with the latest RESEARCH (double blind studies) and found one where CHERRY extract has been proven to be effective in decreasing the number of acute attacks of gout. The medication only cuts the attacks about in half, but the addition of the extract of cherry which is over the counter cuts it another 28% so the two together are ever effective cutting the attacks down to about 25% of what they would be without either medication or supplement.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES are more important though than any medication we take in many many instances of heart problems and metabolic syndrome (blood pressure, heart and cardiovascular problems) that not only shorten our lives but decrease the QUALITY of our lives.

Stress has also been proven for DECADES to have an adverse effect on our over all health and our immune systems so this is another thing we can do for ourselves.

Meditation and relaxation therapies which are FREE are great ways to help decrease the effects of stress. Getting the psychopaths and drama kings and queens out of our lives are also ways to decrease stress.

There are also FREE clinics, FREE mammograms and other free tests for problems, but life style changes are important for ALL of us, whether we are sick or well.

Yesterday we also had some friends visit and the man of the couple mentioned to me how he was self medicating with an antibiotic for some bumps he had on his back that he thought were “infections” but in fact, were NOT infection…and in addition he was also taking a drug that PROHIBITS the excretion of the antibiotic he was taking through the kidneys which allows that antibiotic to build up to TOXIC levels in the body…he was not aware of this and his SELF MEDICATION COULD HAVE BEEN LETHAL….just like my friend’s denial of her “hand problem” could have been the cause of her having another bigger stroke that might have left her dead or severely brain damaged.

Self education for signs of problems is very important and NOT trying to be our own “doctors’ is also important. I am an RNP but I do NOT try to be my own doctor….like that old saying about lawyers, “a lawyer who has himself for a client, has a fool for a client.” Same way with medicine.


With much love ~ Dupey

This is a very important thread, I feel. I was already in a bad physical state before the exspath left. Once it ended, my attention to my own health went out the window for a long, long time.

Now, even though I’m in serious financial trouble, there are local farmers and friends that grow their own produce and harvest meat that was raised on their farms. Eating what’s “in season” from local growers as much as possible is superb.

Thanks, OxD for bringing this topic back for discussion, and thanks Dupey for the link!

No reason to give up on our health just because of a spath, right?

Brightest autumn blessings!

Oxy, that story of your friend self medicating with the antibiotic while simultaneously taking medication to suppress excretion of toxins is a great example of what can go wrong when we do not understand how medicines work and how to diagnose, or when we should consult a health professional.

In my research into more natural ways of dealing with common, mild ailments, I discovered that there are a lot of herbs and supplements out there on the market, easy to obtain, but if you do not know what you are doing, you can cause unintended, sometimes serious, effects. Many herbs are very potent and you really shouldn’t dabble in them for self treatment without a very careful and well informed approach.

You are right that there is a lot of misinformation on the internet. There is also a lot of really excellent and reliable information. I embarked on self treatment only because I felt i had no other option — no money, no means to go to a doctor. So while I may be a fool, this fool did a pretty good job for five years. 🙂

Truthspeak, that is so excellent that you have access to local, fresh and healthy food. Thank goodness.

Yes, this is a very important topic. The stress we all go through from interacting with spaths really can take a toll. I know that when I decided to leave my marriage, I felt I was leaving to save my life — literally. I had been sick for several months leading up to when I made the decision to leave. It was such a stressful time.

Interestingly, for some years (about 9 years) following the divorce, if you can believe this, I did not allow myself to cry — because whenever I did, I would catch a very bad cold or flu. Yes! From just one short crying spell, nothing too severe. And I would get sick! So I just learned to shove those feelings deep, deep down and distract myself so no tears would ever come. I hated being sick and couldn’t “afford to be sick.”

But since I worked hard on strengthening my immune system over the past few years, I find I am able to cry again, without getting sick AT ALL.

Have any of you gone through this? thinking about it now, it sounds kind of stupid and pitiful. But seriously — I really had to watch my emotions because the effects would show up physically, so quickly. Not anymore. (Thank God).

EAting healthy and not using substances that harm our bodies (nicotine and alcohol and other substances) is very important to our health.

I have been a part of the Women’s Health Studies from Harvard Medical school for almost 20 years now, and this started with tens of thousands of nurses participating and there are still 35,000 of us answering surveys about our health on a regular basis….and I just received a questionaire about stress in my life which I sent back in. We also receive questions about what we eat, how much we sleep, drink, smoke, diagnoses for various diseases, and all kinds of data. We also send in blood samples from time to time.

Medical “science” is not perfect…there is still a LOT to be learned from legitimate studies of our health and DNA as well as how our life styles influence that DNA.

Wish I could be around in 100 years to see what has been learned, especially where DNA versus environment have to do with behavioral sciences. In the meantime, I am just making every effort to take care of myself, decrease the stress levels in my life and to enjoy the blessings I have.

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