Welcome back for Part 3 in the “Taking Back My Health” series!
In my first and second posts I shared the fact that I had an honest intention to get my health back on track (Post 1), and also the reasons why my health was on the decline (Post 2). This was not something that happened overnight.
So when exactly was my turning point in all of this? I hit my all-time low the last two months of 2013. It was ugly. While I was continuing to experience physical problems, my mind was on overload and mentally I was starting to break down. I found myself experiencing bouts of depression. I knew I had to make a change and that it had to be something extreme. So in the next couple of posts, I’m going to share with you the specific steps that I took to turn things around.
I know that a lot of people are curious about the actual workout programs that I’ve set up, and how I went about doing that, but before I talk about the workouts (they will be in the next post, I promise!), I want to make sure that I cover some of the most important pieces to my health journey- the important changes that I made to set a strong foundation- along with a few tricks that I’ve done to make these things stick. This same principle applies when you build a home. Do you want your home built on a strong foundation that roots your home, or on a foundation that has cracks, holes and damage in it? I think the answer is pretty obvious that we all want the strong foundation. The also applies to your health. Every step that you take from this point on should be built on top of a strong foundation. So let’s get started!
1. WATER, WATER, AND MORE WATER
Did I mention how much I hate water? Yep, that’s right. HATE. It’s flavorless and, therefore, does not appeal to me. But I also recognize how much my body needs it. For men, generally speaking, about 60% of their bodies are made up of water and for women, it’s about 55% (those figures vary depending on the amounts of muscle and fat in each person’s body).
I was drinking… wait for it… only 1-2 glasses of water every 3 or 4 days. (gasp!) Yeah, that’s pretty bad. I wonder how my body was able to function for so long on so little. So here’s the first major change that I made. I increased my water intake drastically. You can Google information on how to calculate how many ounces of water you should be drinking for your body weight, but a simple principle I came up with for myself is to drink at least one tall glass of water every hour that I am awake. It’s much simpler for me that way. I’m awake an average 12 hours, so now drink at least 12 tall glasses of water a day.
But how, since you could barely choke down one glass every few days before? Here’s how: I use a couple drops of liquid organic Stevia ONLY in the first couple glasses, to help get my water intake started. After the first couple, I’m already on a roll drinking water and I can continue for the rest of the day without it. I will usually do 3-4 drops in my first glass and I will decrease the amount in every glass for the first few glasses, basically weaning myself. I cannot stress this enough- check the label of ingredients when you buy your Stevia. It doesn’t matter that it has organic Stevia if there is a bunch of junk in there with it.
The brand that I use is Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops. Here’s a picture to show you exactly what the listed ingredients are: purified water, organic Stevia leaf extract, natural flavors. It’s just something that I came up with to help me increase how much water I drink, that’s all. I don’t plan on continuing with the organic Stevia once I retrain my mind and body to consume this amount of water daily.
2. KICK YOUR COFFEE HABIT DOWN A NOTCH
Coffee really does have some health benefits for certain people, but the way that I was drinking my coffee was nowhere close to being healthy. The ratio of actual coffee to Coffee Mate Vanilla creamer was 1:10 in my cup. Yeah. So for me, I really had to kick coffee out entirely, at least until I could get my habits under control.
I’ve shared with a few people on Facebook about how I kicked my coffee habit entirely the next day without any withdrawal symptoms. That was a really big deal for me because my body was so addicted to coffee that I would have severe migraines without it. It’s been 2 & 1/2 months now since I have had coffee in those insane amounts. I have only just recently started to have coffee again, but it’s about 1-2 cups of coffee PER WEEK (and in a much better ratio of coffee to creamer!). I drink this Bragg’s ACV drink 2 times a day, once in the morning and once again at around 2:00 PM when I’m starting to fade a little. When I first started doing this drink, I found that I needed it a third time around 4 or 5:00 PM. But since I’ve been doing it for a couple of months now, my body’s adjusted and I haven’t needed it that much.
So here’s how I did it…
I recommend that you use Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. It has “the mother” (the cloudy stuff) in it and that’s where the benefits of ACV are. I also tell everyone that if you use honey, always use raw honey. Again, for the health benefits simply because it’s raw and unrefined. If you want a quick read on the benefits and dangers of raw honey, you can read that —> HERE.
3. LET’S TALK SUPPLEMENTS
After living most of my life in sunny south Florida, a move up north to first Virginia and then to Ohio has been a shock for my body. I never had to worry about Vitamin D deficiency before. In Virginia, I had my Vitamin D levels checked and I was surprised to learn that after just a short amount of time, my Vitamin D levels were in the danger zone. You can read more about Vitamin D testing and treatment in this informative article —> HERE. As you can see from the chart in that article, my level of 30 was beyond deficient. I started taking Vitamin D3 supplements years ago after getting those results, but I wasn’t diligent about taking them daily. That’s another thing that I have changed. Along with a multi-vitamin, I regularly take D3 supplements.
4. I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT!
One of the major issues was the extreme exhaustion I talked about in my previous post. From that, stemmed depression and other issues with my mood. I started to research on light therapy, Circadian Rhythm, supplements and the affects on our bodies. My body did not have a handle on the hours of the day. I would be up all night long. And if I by sheer miracle I actually was able to fall asleep, I would still be up periodically throughout the night, unable to get right back to sleep. Years of this had left me completely exhausted during the day. I needed to retrain my mind and body on what hours were daytime and nighttime.
I decided to buy and try out a light therapy box —> (this is the one that I chose for myself). I didn’t know of anyone personally that had ever used this type of thing to combat depression and exhaustion, so I decided to try it out. Guess what… it worked. Here’s how it worked for me. The mornings had always been the worst. I just couldn’t get out of bed. For the first two weeks, I had the light therapy box sitting on my nightstand next to my bed. In the morning, I would roll over, turn the light on, and while still lying in bed, have my face about 16″ away. I would do this for at least 20 minutes every morning. And that thing is bright! I would also do it again for another 20-25 minutes around 2:00 PM when my body started to get sluggish.
After a couple of weeks of using the light therapy box that way, I found that my extreme exhaustion in the morning had almost gone away completely. I went from feeling like I had run marathons overnight and waking up dog tired to feeling more refreshed from sleep, with just a little bit of sleepiness. I decided that my body was starting to adjust and that I no longer needed it first thing in the morning. I moved it into my office area and I have it set up beside my computer. Since then, I have been able to get out of bed right away in the morning and I use the light at my desk while I’m doing my morning routine- reading my Bible, checking emails, doing my work. I have it on for about 45 minutes a day now. It wasn’t just the therapy light. I made a couple of other changes, along with the light therapy and I’m happy to report that the end result is worth it.
What other changes did I make? I started going to sleep at a decent hour, instead of my usual 2:00 AM. I went to bed even if I couldn’t fall asleep right away. I also started doing hot Epsom salt baths and using magnesium oil before bed. Here’s the magnesium oil that I bought. You can buy it from her online store and she also gives you a tutorial on how you can make it yourself. I don’t believe that I would have noticed such a timely change if I didn’t do these things together (get proper rest, therapy light, hot Epsom salt baths before bed, magnesium oil), but that is for me personally. No two people are alike, of course. This is just to give you an idea of how it worked for me.
So here’s a quick rundown of how my days went, while incorporating all of these changes:
- Before bed, hot Epsom salt bath and put magnesium oil on
- Go to bed at a decent hour
- In the morning, light therapy box first thing (while still in bed or while I’m at my desk), along with Bragg’s ACV. With breakfast, I take my multi-vitamin and Vitamin D3.
- Throughout the day, drink water every hour and more often if you can. Set a timer if you need help remembering.
- Around 2:00 I will have another Bragg’s ACV and if I need it, another 20 minutes of light therapy.
I still have to keep on myself about getting to bed at a decent hour, which is so difficult for me because I’m a night owl, but I’m getting better and sticking to my plan. And I truly have seen results from doing this, so it does give me the motivation to keep going and if I mess up one day and forget to take my vitamins or forget to get to bed on time, it will be just fine. I can start fresh tomorrow 🙂 Just keep in mind that it’s not a sprint, you’re building a strong foundation and that will take time and effort.
I hope that you are able to find something useful in my posts to help you make your own positive changes towards better health. In my next post, I will be sharing the specific exercises that I used to kick off my health journey this year, so be sure to check back as I continue on with the “Taking Back My Health” series.
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