I found myself having a conversation this week with a young girl who is entering high school. She is overweight and unhealthy, and she realizes it. She expressed that she is trying to make changes, and was doing really well up until Christmas. She fell off track during the holidays, like many people do. Mid-way through a series of understanding head nods, I thought… “haaang on a second… it’s July!!” This girl, as many of us do, got lost in the transition time.
This topic has come up more than once in the past week and therefore I took it as my sign that it needs to be addressed. Life is made up of transitions. We transition from one job to the next, we transition from high school to college to the working world to the parenting world to the retirement world. We transition between towns, we transition between relationships, we transition between life callings. If we are not careful, we find ourselves so busy focusing on adapting to the next new and exciting phase of our lives that we completely neglect to care for ourselves in the meantime.
We get too busy to pack a good lunch, we get too distracted to spend meaningful time with God every day, we get too stressed out to give the people who love and care about you the most the loving attention that they deserve. So today, I want to talk about these transitions. Because if you are not careful, you will find yourself neglecting your health from one transition to the next until suddenly you realize that it’s July and you are still using the holiday excuse for being fat. Sorry…. you know it’s true.
So how do you prevent this? Well, the first step is recognizing the problem. We need to recognize our tendency to become complacent and use our situations as excuses for bad behavior. Yes, I realize you are the single mother of 3 who works two jobs and can’t pay rent. Yes, I realize you are the mortgage broker who is continually getting transferred from one job or city to the next, or the realtor that does not dictate your own schedule. But realize that this is life. From the day you’re born to the day you die (just one more transition).
So once you recognize that life is about transitions, you can then prepare for them. Preparation is key. You wouldn’t head to battle without your sword and your shield. You wouldn’t step on the football field without your playbook and an understanding of the opposing team. You wouldn’t risk navigating this world as a Christian without understanding the strategies of Satan and his opposition to your devotion (refer to the C.S Lewis classic The Screwtape Letters). You prepare and arm yourself for whatever battle or hardship you are being be asked to face.
So why is a Summer Vacation trip with your children any different? Why is a move to a new home an excuse to order pizza for lunch, and dinner, every single night? Why does an approaching holiday mean that you can load your shopping cart with brightly, and seasonally appropriate, colored bags of sugar, bad fats and artificial coloring?? Today is the day where you sit down and seriously consider why you make the choices you do, and then determine your game plan for how to do things differently.
If you think I’m exempt from this, or that it comes easily, guess again. It’s just as difficult for me to fly back home and avoid all the sugary garbage that I see sitting on my parent’s kitchen counter as it is for you (Love you Mom). It’s not “easy” for anyone. But guess what I do? I plan. When I go home, I know what to expect, and I know what to do about it. I surround myself with good, nutrient-dense foods, I plan where I’m going to shop and what I’m going to snack on. When I vacation on the beach… I take my blender for smoothies and a large container of pre-made raw broccoli salad. When I know I’m going to be on the go and not make it home for lunch (at least 4 days a week), I prepare my meals on Sunday so my leftovers are stocked and ready to rock. And when I’m having an emotionally draining day, or week, the freezer is a reservoir for homemade strawberry coconut milk ice cream, and raw almond butter and bananas are on hand.
It is so easy to get lost in transition, and before you know it you are 50 pounds heavier with heart disease (accompanied by a new prescription for Lipitor and it’s less-than-kind side effect, diabetes). This is much bigger than jumping back on the health bandwagon after summer break. It’s more than learning to efficiently pack a bagged lunch. This is your health and your life. And if you don’t watch yourself in your transitions, you may just find yourself sick, suffering and nearly dead, with no idea how you got there.
So, start tracking those habits and arming yourself for those transition times!
Dr Liz and Dr Mark