I’ve spoken a lot about my current state of health and what that means to me, and where I would like to go, how I struggle and stumble to get there. What I have not delved into that much yet is my health history. To be more specific, my holistic health history. The older I get , the holistic perspective of my health is the only one that matters to me.
My earliest memories of food were specific brands like Kix puffed cereal, 2% milk, Juicy Juice, Jiffy quick bread mixes, and canned vegetables such as green peas, which I never liked. I can remember my dad telling me if I ate all of my peas, not only could I then leave the dinner table, but that they (the peas) would make me pretty. He was very active in the kitchen, most of my memories are of him cooking, and my mom shopping and doing some cooking. Chicken legs, and occasionally wings were the poultry cuts I remember from this time. I was allowed candy all year round, and Trick-or-treated every years. I was smaller child naturally, and very active, spending a lot of time outdoors. No cell phones or tablets for me then. I gave my life to Christ very early as well, after my parents ensured I knew what I was doing and was baptized.
Once I started elementary school, I had a combination of school lunches and packed lunches. My packed lunches would consist Aldi brand food types such as white bread, sliced lunch meat ( turkey, ham, chicken), single-wrapped cheese slices, vanilla and chocolate pudding cups, Swiss rolls ( rolls of chocolate flavored cake with cream layers), Star crunches ( chocolate covered rice cereal round), Capri-Sun ( frozen , so when lunch came around it was liquid), Pringles. Gushers and Fruit Roll Ups were ‘extra’ and were not part of what we normally ate, but really enjoyed them. Every school year and almost every summer I was involved in some sort of sports/dance team or camp from Kindergarten to 8th grade.
Upon entering high school , my mother was diagnosed with high cholesterol and placed on medication. As a result, we abruptly stopped eating pork and beef in our home, because my parents stopped buying it. The high school lunch menu was less ‘home cooked’ and the plans let us choose between a rotating menu and pizza/fries/Lipton juice drink. I did not play sports during this time, only took the mandatory physical activity course requirements . I was driven to school, did not walk or walk to a bus stop. By sophomore or junior year, my parents had joined the Y, so I would occasionally go with my mom. One of my most memorable unhealthy habits, was skipping ‘lunch’, and grabbing brown sugar PopTarts from the vending machine at school before a 1:30PM class. In my mind, I was saving money and opening up time to study before class. My hunger pains were so bad, but did I eat? No. I learned that, for me , the intensity of the pain from waiting to long to eat could be lessened by two Tums . All throughout my grade school, I was a healthy weight according to my doctors, and never had any health issues. I was ( and possibly still am to a degree) introverted , shy, except when I was around my friends and family. I had people who I called ‘boyfriend’ , but I wasn’t actually allowed to date, so they should really be called ‘boys-I-liked-and-saw-at-school-and-talked-to-after-school-on-my-parents-house-phone’.
Even when I went to college, I was active . Going to the gym, walking to classes , running before classes, group fitness classes. Eating anything I wanted, including very large meals from cafeterias that were essentially like buffets with my meal plan card. Cell phones made a huge evolution while I was in school. I started with a flip phone and ended with a Blackberry smart phone, but I can’t think of a solid example of how this affected my health. I completed my entire freshman year without a personal computer. I lived on campus, and the nearest computer lab was less than 0.25 miles from my dorm. When I did get a personal computer, it was a laptop, that I toted constantly. I was not, and still am not, a sit at-the-desk-for-hours-person. In my free time I spent time first, working as sales associate in a women’s clothing store, and then as a nursing assistant in skilled nursing facilities, home care, and hospitals. Getting into, staying in , and getting out of nursing school was one of the most stressful things I’ve done . Once school was over, it was as if a weight lifted off of me, and I wasn’t even a ‘nurse’ yet. I felt completely calm having graduated, studying for my actual license.
Throughout my 20’s I worked all the shifts at different points : 7am-3pm, 3pm-11pm, 11pm-7am, 7am-7pm, 7pm-7am. I would use Benadryl and Tramadol for sleep occasionally.
I would again have to say, I ate everything I wanted to eat during this time and began to drink more. My focus wasn’t eating healthy, just being active. I joined a gym as soon as I got out of college. Even had a personal trainer for a time, but truly ate whatever I wanted. Through focusing on lifting, I went from weighing about 112lbs at 22 years old to being about 130lbs in my mid-twenties. As my activity decreased and diet remained the same ( or possibly got worse) my weight increased gradually each year, and now I live in the 150’s. I’ve experienced all the stress that comes with attempting post-graduate education, getting married, death of loved ones, loss of friendships, and career set-backs or #fails during my 20’s as well. Throughout my 20’s disillusionment, analysis paralysis about my next life steps have periodically held me back from making what I perceive as progress in multiple areas of my life.
Do you every think about your health history ? Do you find it useful, insightful? What are you doing to change the course of your history? What habits remain? What new habits have you developed ?