I cannot make my fingers type this email. The proposal is due in the morning and my fingers are too stiff and I can’t type.

What the hell am I going to do?

The fear just made it worse. My fingers worked when they wanted and didn't when they didn’t. I would yell at my keyboard, and catastrophise my life until my children and I were homeless, all because I couldn’t do my job.

Then there was walking up the steps and feeling my knees ache or the sharp pain in my wrists as I tried to get up off the floor. Actually, I needed to make fists to get up off the floor. I chalked that up to being 50 with a-lot of wear and tear, but the march to old age was coming way too fast. The physical maladies were piling up while the need for me to take care of a family and keep up with two teenage boys never slowed.

“If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred” -Walt Whitman

During this time, my father was in a nursing home in Florida dying from Parkinson's disease, a fate I wouldn’t wish on my enemy let alone this kind and wonderful man. I flew to Florida every three weeks and as I walked the halls I took in all I saw.

The sight of feeble old bodies, wheelchairs, oxygen, and rows of medicines shook me to the core. I felt my own mortality and vulnerability every time I entered the doors. But I noticed something. Most of the maladies that afflicted the people in this building, in fact, that effect most of us, are man made. I saw Coke cans, candy and cookies everywhere. I saw very overweight visitors limping themselves as they visited loved ones. It was here, in this acute microcosm that my research started.  

I started looking at my symptoms differently even though I was on a much better than average American diet:

Severe allergies and mild asthma | Severe pain in wrists, knees and fingers | Difficulty typing (unable to at times) | No change in weight, but rings and watch no longer fit | From 32 inch waist to 34 | Debilitating fatigue in the afternoon (caffeine deficiency) | Mild depression.

Like I said, I ate well and exercised regularly, and I thought I was doomed to an early old age. I figured it was just aging and the way things would be, until I started learning. The more I learned, the more I knew there was hope for me. I researched experts in the field of nutrition and found Dr. Chris Ogilvie, a naturopath recommended to me. Chris’s philosophy is simple, “your body will tell you what you need. Let’s eliminate everything but Vegetables and Organic Meat for eight weeks and add the rest back one at a time. His recommendation sounded a bit severe, but my desperation made me game. Nothing like pain, to force a change.

Three weeks later I was down ten pounds, feeling alive and vibrant and the pain was subsiding. By eight weeks I felt so good I had no interest in adding anything back into my diet. It was crazy, but the results were too good to ignore:

Allergies and asthma gone I Pain in wrists and fingers gone | Pain in knees minimal and exercise related | Ring, watch and 32 inch jeans all fit | Fine and dandy in the afternoon | Spirits lifted.

Through trial and error I found that Sugar, American Wheat, Dairy and Lack of sleep were the four horsemen of my own personal apocalypse. A direct correlation between pain or the sniffles and what I ate the night before, gets my attention.

Like any good reformed zealot, I took to the streets with my new found revelations. Unfortunately though, I was met with a less than enthusiastic audience that reminded me of the story told in AA to illustrate the craziness of the human mind.

An Alcoholic is brought before the judge. The judge says, “you have two choices, you can go to jail for 90 days or 90 one hour AA meetings.” To which the Alcoholic asks, “Judge, can I have a few minutes to think about this?”

The pain in my hands, not being able to type or lift myself up off the floor was my ‘bottom’. It took something scary to make me change. Most people I talk to are steeped in the “norm” and do not know what is waiting for them with a few simple changes.

If you’re reading this book, you are probably not new to the “Self Help/Growth” community. You already know that we are not victims of circumstances but that most of our “life situations” originate from our choices and beliefs. The revelation is both uncomfortable and freeing. The “Victim” path is seductive, but when the pain is enough, we are willing to wake up and make different choices. I probably would not have changed if I wasn’t worried about losing the use of my hands. I just wanted to type, and I got relief from life long allergies. Bonus!

As a coach, I use my experience with food as both a metaphor and a real life example for promoting change in other areas. Is the uncomfortableness of unwanted behaviors greater than that of change? It takes work to eat well; it also takes work to change relationships, habits and thinking. All I can do, and all I can ask of my clients is to be aware and chose as consciously as possible to move us to our desired outcome.

Just as the spiritual path has many roads to explore, so does that of taking care of our physical selves. What works for me may not work for you and visa versa. What I do know is that we can do more good, enjoy more, and be happier if we take care of our bodies. I leave you with the words of a wonderful old man I met in passing who said:

“Before 40 our body takes care of us, after 40, we take care of our bodies.” Too true. 

This post is a just one chapter in the book, "Unconventional Wisdom" written by 4 outstanding coaches and myself.  Available at Amazon.
 


Comments

Barbara McCarthy
12/02/2015 10:37am

So much truth! Before 40 (35 actually for me) I could eat what I wanted, stay up to all hours, expect total compliance from my body- and it delivered. After 40: sudden weight gain, eye sight, which had been as sharp as a wild cat's began to give me challenges in dim light. Fear of losing ability to read and do small detailed wirk in my studio sent me running to the eye doctor for my first pair of contacts. At 51 my first grandson is born and within the year pain in my knees begin to make getting up from the floor difficult. Pain in my left hip follows. I think you get the picture. Being active and strong-willed as I am, trying to keep up my lifestyle as it was results in many failures. For example, staying up to 4am and trying to get up at 7am now results in being physically and mentally useless until noon and a nap! Not the life I want to lead. I'm too active to lose 5hrs of good morning time. My grandson is now 2 y/o. I am not ready to give up crawling around on the floor with him or running and kicking around a soccer ball with him. The biggest shocker to me was squatting down to look at something on a bottom shelf at Target, needing to pull myself up to a standing position using the upper shelves and hoping I didn't pull them down on me. I nearly died inside when a goidloiking teenage boy came over to help me up!! "I'm no 70-something old granny!", I thought to myself. Ok, so I am a (1st-time) Gramz of a 2-year old, but I'm only 53, still fit in a size 8 (barely), and have a mind like a lion(ess).
Mark you hit the nail on the head when you said "Before 40 our bodies take care of us, after 40 we need to care for our bodies" I am not willing to give up being physically active - especially with my Grandson) or doing things for myself, or being adventurous (ziplines and parasailing. Hanglideding is still on my bucket list. I refuse to call out "I'm on the floor and can't get up!"
My challenge is wondering how to find a way to change eating habits when I live with someone who loves potato chips and pound cake and refuses anything that sounds healthy. I drink lowfat almond milk lite, whole grain bread alternating with white, rye and Italian. Yeah, bread is my downfall. Bagels are not suddenly healthy because I put salmon on it! Lots of lowfat greek yogurt is another downfall for me.
HELP! Where do I start???

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Yes, it is true, I remember in our Religion class, it is discussed that the human body is sacred. Sacred because it is from God and is a temple of God. Taking care of our body is a way to express our thanks and appreciation for this and it is our responsibility as well, this is also for our own good.

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