I was out of shape and I knew it. I had not exercised for months. My usual low-fat diet had been forced into the back seat. For a time, I tried to blame my busy schedule. I was a full-time graduate student and wife. On top of that I worked 50+ hours a week. It was much easier to stop by the local burger joint on the way home than to make those healthy meals that took so long to prepare.
Then I went to the doctor and was told that my resting heart rate was higher than it should be in a young, healthy looking young woman. Reality began to set in. I, who had spent years going salsa dancing 3-5 nights a week, and hardly sit the entire evening, would barely be able to dance through one song. I did not want to be one of those people who watched their health slowly decline. My maternal grandparents were in their late 90’s while my paternal grandfather was 100. I had always thought that with the progress that had been made in the arena of health, I would live even longer than they had. It now hit me that if I did not change my lifestyle, I would be lucky to make it to 70.
I was overwhelmed when I thought of how hard it could be to change my lifestyle. Habits are hard to break. It was while I was pacing around our open living/ kitchen area that it hit me. I would start slowly and work my way up to the point where I wanted to be.
Exercise came first. I knew that you were supposed to make your heart pump for 20 minutes a day. I knew that I did not have time to go the gym every day. I also knew that my health could not wait. I decided that I was going to use my free moments to get my heart moving. I did not dally in the aisles of the grocery store. I moved faster so that I was getting exercise while I was shopping. When I was walking across the building in which I worked, I challenged myself to walk more quickly. While watching the news, I ran in place and did jumping jacks. Soon, I began to feel the difference. My body felt more alert and healthy. I was sleeping better and waking up more refreshed.
Diet change was a little more difficult. I had always loved fruits and vegetables, but had not eaten as many as I should have for awhile. The change in this area was slow, but steady. When we brought burgers home, I would cut up cucumbers to eat on the side with them. I had a fruit with every morning meal. A couple weeks into the diet change, we gradually stopped eating out as much. Instead of Taco Bell, we bought tortillas and made our own burritos. Casseroles were made on Sundays for the rest of the week so that when we got home, they could be warmed up in the oven. Large salads were made at the beginning of the week that would be eaten throughout the week. Fried was replaced with baked. My complexion started to clear up and my body felt refreshed.
When I went back to the doctor, I was told that my resting heart rate was much better. I had to smile when the doctor asked me how I did it. It really wasn’t hard. I had chosen long-term health over short-term gratification. I know I have a good, long healthy life in front of me.