Let’s be honest. There are things about living a healthy lifestyle that, when you are accustomed to a life without rules, really stink. For me, some of those things include not having pasta, pizza, or hot dogs anymore. But when I thought about it (and I did think about this a lot), what I finally realized was that I had to say goodbye to being careless. I had to begin thinking about my health as an adult: being responsible, having a plan, and thinking for the long-term.
As a husband, a father, a Staff Sergeant, and hopefully one day as a grandfather, I have to consider other people before myself. I have to ensure that I am able to continue in my assigned or appointed role as long as possible. Not because I think I’m special, but because people need me or rely upon me for emotional or other support. I have a responsibility to keep myself around as long as possible, and in a way that doesn’t place a burden upon them. Being healthy is my duty.
Before I decided to be healthy, I could do what I wanted (especially if that meant not doing anything physical or active). I could eat what I wanted without a care. It was actually quite nice to be in that much control of things (even while my health was careening out of control, I felt like I was in complete control. Oh, the irony!). What I didn’t realize was I was trading my health for an artificial sense of freedom. While it’s nice to be able to do what you want, when you want, the reality is that the consequences were still there; I was just ignoring them. Once I became aware of the consequences of my carefree life, it became readily apparent to me that I needed to change my ways. And fast.
Fast forward three and a half years: I’m physically fit, I weigh 130 lbs less than I did when I began, and working to drop another 20 lbs to get back to my lowest weight a year ago. I let myself get lazy; I know how to lose weight, and I have unlocked the secret to doing so without a lot of pain and suffering, so I have let myself get lax. That ended this morning. While this weekend was a lot of fun and I spent it with all of my favorite people, the toll was heavy on my body. I’m back to my 2016 mindset: if it’s not 100% healthy, it’s not going in my mouth.
Some people see living healthy as being restrictive and most people don’t like living without the ability to do what they want, when they want. They see it as a negative, and regardless of the benefits, concentrate or focus on the bad parts (having to avoid sweets, alcohol, grains, etc). I see it as ensuring that I’m responsible for my health, ensuring that I have the best chance possible at living longer, and having a quality of life that makes it worth living. Most of all, I am taking responsibility for being around as long as I can for my wife, my kids, my friends, and my community. I have a lot to give, and I feel that being selfish and eating with abandon is disrespectful not only to them, but to my own health.
It’s not always easy, and sometimes I miss out on foods and drinks that may be amazing. I have to accept that as the cost for ensuring my health is as good as I can make it, and while I have to keep reminding myself of that, in the end, I think it will be worth it. I can’t change what genetics holds for my future, but I can make sure I don’t negatively impact my health through bad decisions and a lack of responsibility. That’s the best I can hope for.