When you think of the words “health” or “wellness” what emotions come to mind? Do you feel positive vibes or do you become a Negative Nancy? For me, I was the latter for way too long. Wellness is defined as “being in good health.” I didn’t grow up with all the tools that some had to make being healthy easy for them in adulthood. And that’s not to shift blame, but to provide context. So here’s my story about where I plan to go in my wellness journey.
History with wellness
Growing up, I was underweight. I know that might be a little surprising to some, but it’s true. I was (and still am) a pretty picky eater. I hated to eat meat, vegetables or anything that didn’t have a pleasant aroma. I remember my brother counting my ribs and my spine when we would brush our teeth in the morning. I never had to worry about diet or exercise because I was very active. I climbed trees and ran everywhere I went. Most days I spent outside with my cousins.
Throughout middle school, I began to “even out” and was finally what my doctor considered to be a normal healthy weight. I still didn’t eat much “healthy food,” but being so active kept me thin. When I entered high school, that all changed. I stopped being so active and focused more energy on watching tv and doing schoolwork. I started to gain weight and I didn’t even notice until one day I stepped out of the shower and noticed I was developing stretch marks along my arms and on my side. I was embarrassed, but I found comfort in those areas being covered.
In 10th grade, I started getting these horrible migraines. Every morning they would come and last all day until I went to bed. After a few months, I finally had my mom take me to the doctor. After a few visits (and an MRI), the doctor asked me what I ate that day. I remember this conversation like it was yesterday. I responded, “Well, I only ate a banana.” The look on his face I will also never forget. “A banana?” he asked. “It’s 4 in the afternoon. You should have had at least two meals by now.”
My mom told him about my eating habits and he told her to let me eat anything that I wanted because my body wasn’t getting enough energy. That was the reason why my migraines lasted all day because my body was signaling for me to eat more. Initially, I was happy I could now eat whatever I wanted, but this was probably one of the worse decisions I made for my physical health.
The following year, I went back to the doctor and I gained a bunch of weight. The nurse did blood work and I was notified that my cholesterol was too high and I was prediabetic, meaning I was on the verge of diabetes. I took the news seriously and began to change my diet. I stopped eating junk food completely and I convinced my mom to purchase the Insanity workout DVDs with Shaun T. I followed the diet plan that came with the workouts and over the summer entering my senior year, I lost about 65-70 pounds. Surprisingly, as happy as I was to lose weight, I hated how small I was. So I returned to eating what was normal for me to get back to a happier size.
During my college years, my physical health was like a seesaw. I gained some weight back to a size that I liked, but I went back to being inactive and I was too busy to notice or even care. My weight fluctuated in college until junior year and I was on a steady incline. Clothes no longer began to fit and I wanted to do something about it, but I was unsure how to start back. I hated going to gym, couldn’t afford to buy at-home equipment or better, so overall, I felt rather powerless and stuck to what I was doing.
After I graduated, I became even less active from sitting down all day at work to going home and laying down from being tired of sitting down. I got so bad that sometimes, I would eat dinner (from a fast-food restaurant) in bed and go to sleep. Needless to say, I gained even more weight. Mentally, I would be too exhausted to prioritize my physical health. Finally, I convinced myself to work out at the gym in my apartment complex once a week. I wanted to lose weight and start my wellness journey again. But I hated the process. I hated everything I was doing to “get fit” and felt very discouraged because I was “so far gone.”
So when I could convince myself to be healthy, it would maybe last for a few weeks or a month, but I always returned to my old unhealthy habits. I would occasionally find healthier food options that I would switch to along the way, but nothing significant enough to make a difference.
Let’s fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was feeling extremely fatigued. I was confused and I assumed that it was from having a busy week. After I finally had time to rest, I felt the same. Throughout the pandemic, I was making changes to my diet and I did see a little progress so I was concerned about what could be wrong. A few days later I went to my doctor for my annual check-up. At first, he noted that I’ve lost a little weight and I felt really confident and proud because many gained weight during the pandemic and I lost some. At the end of the appointment, he requested that I do some blood work. All of my pride was wiped away when I got my test results back.
He told me that my blood sugar level was extremely high. It was over double the level that a “normal diabetic” would have. Although I was relieved to know what was going on with my body, I was so disappointed that I let myself get this far. Listening to him prescribe me medications to help was the wake-up call that I so desperately needed.
So here we are, a few weeks from being diagnosed. I did so much research on how to get myself to where I need to be. Thankfully, I have insurance that offers a lot of support outside of just my prescriptions, but also holistic support through this process. I’ve learned that I’m going to focus on my overall wellbeing, not just my physical appearance or my diet. I want to take a holistic approach to change to a healthier lifestyle, not just a “lose weight quick scheme.”
I don’t have a certain weight, aesthetic or diet. I don’t plan to try to lose weight in a matter of months. I’m going to slowly, but surely learn how to be well for the long-term. So I invite you all to follow my journey on my wellness Instagram page @raylatablewellness.
On this platform, I’m going learn out loud and live one day at a time to get to the healthiest version of myself.
When was the last time you went to the doctor?