Saturday, May 24, 2008

Getting Healthy Again

It's amazing to me how quickly getting out of shape and unhealthy can sneak up on you. In all fairness, it has been a gradual process that has devolved my existence over the last three years, but it was all very subtle from my perception. One moment I was secure in my knowledge that I was still as health as I was a few years ago. As healthy as when I went to Aikido for 8 hours a week, and when I ate well and didn't drink many sodas. When I biked downtown with friends for hours on end. Little did I realize 3 years later I'd have sleeping problems due to bad digestion, that I would have knees that could only carry me for 20 yards of sprinting before they stopped working. Digestion problems and bad knees are something older people have. Vitamin deficiency is something that happens to other people who didn't take care of themselves. People who aren't me. So I was shocked to wake up, struggling to sleep because of a stomach that was a torrid sea of acid, and realizing I am one of those people. It's also rather frightening after that happens that you'll continue your downward slide.

I've half-heartedly tried to change my ways a few times in the past but always ended up making less distance than even my weak knees could carry me. It was a few weeks ago that I took another half-hearted attempt at health – an afternoon jog – that would cause an event that rattled me enough to make me give a full-hearted one.

I'd forgotten the joy of blazing down the roads and my own two legs, sweat dripping in my eyes and the wind on my face. It was about the time I remembered this pleasure that my right knee locked up, nearly sending me tumbling into a ditch, my left almost following his brother's example as I used it to keep weight off of him. After a brief break in which I was completely unable to make my legs function, I had to stumble back the way I came, slightly terrified that the feeling I was experiencing – the barest ability to walk – might eventually be permanent. I could feel my knees struggling with each step, feel the wobbling and instability in my stance. And I was rather terrified.

That I made my way to the doctor at the next available opening will tell those who know me how worried I was. I've avoided the doctor for nearly 10 years until now.

Stepping in the building, the assistant looked at me before I even met the doctor, stopping midway through her greeting sentence as she looked me up and down.

“Young man, you need to meet someone”

...she said as while grabbed my arm and bringing me face to face with someone who turned out to be a nutritionist. Apparently she thought I looked so drained of color that I must be deprived of important nutrients that my body was craving.

It turns out she is rather astute with her observations, my doctor later informing me of my vitamin deficiency that she believes is the root of my knee problems. She also pinpointed my stomach problem to both diet and, depressingly, dairy. It took all my will to not fall to the floor upon my knees and thrust my hands heavenward, crying out at my misfortune. I was told to drop the milk entirely, which is about my favorite thing to consume, evident by the 2 gallons per week that I drink. Yet sleeping through the night would prove to be a fair trade. And as it turns out, after cutting milk out I have thus far been no longer troubles by a raging belly.

I was put on a rather (to me) strict dietary plan. The first two weeks is detox time. I think this will prove the most challenging.

Daily Requirements: 110oz of water (yeesh), 4 fruits (yay), 1 cup of beans minimum, 1 lb raw veggies, 1 lb cooked veggies, 3-4 oz fish/turkey or two eggs, 15 raw soak almonds or 2 tbs raw almond butter, very specific grain types.

Most of that is alright, but the raw veggies might be tough. And the water. I'm not a water cooler, but I must fill myself like one. On the plus side, I've learned I can have the bread I enjoy (Ezekiel), along with some specific all-fruit jelly.

In addition, I've a [rather vast] number of supplements I will be taking for a time. I don't mind that so much, however one of them is a powder that I mix with my daily protein shake. One small scoop of it can make a full glass of delicious mixed fruit smoothie turn 'wet grass clippings' green and taste like the rotting flesh of the damned. Yet my diet requires four such scoops per day.

The mainly problem I'm going to have is I simply 1) am not good at food preparation and 2) I do not like a variety of the foods that I need. Or rather, I like a variety but I don't know ways to prepare them in ways that will make them interesting. I've got a tentative class with a local raw food chef to see if I can increase my repertoire of healthy dishes.

So this is it; time to get serious. After mere days of selecting cutting out the dairy, eating live foods, tripling my water intake, etc, I've already noticed an improvement. Besides the aforementioned stomach problems not bothering me again so far, I've felt less tired than normal and had more energy to get through the day. I'm going to ride this out and see where it takes me. I'll be on my nutritionist's strict plans for 7 weeks minimum, at which time I'll be on my own. Hopefully by that time I'll have accustomed myself to these food times and I'll crave lettuce wraps or fruits instead of cheeseburgers or pizza.

I've decided the best way for me to stick to all this is to prepare my meals ahead of time instead of getting hungry, having no good food to reach for, then getting Chinese instead.

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