Road to Health

I was diagnosed with diabetes just over ten years ago. Up to that time, I was very haphazard with my doctor visits. I did not do regular check ups nor worry about my health. But right before my wedding, I went to get my eyes checked so I could buy new contacts for the honeymoon.

During the visit, I found that I was unable to see out of my left eye. It was as if someone has smeared Vaseline on the lens. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that my retinas were bleeding in both eyes, but the bleed in the left was affecting the main area for vision. I underwent laser intervention and, after a time, the sight has healed, though not entirely. I still have slight blind spot right in the middle of my left eye’s field of vision.

When this happened, I realized I had to start taking better care of myself, and that meant better eating habits. The road to a more balanced way of life is a long and hard one, and, I must admit, I’m not there yet. However, I have made good strides towards a healthier lifestyle.

For one thing, I cut out most of the soda intake. Prior to that moment, I drank regular Coke as if it was the recommended servings of water — eight or nine a day of the 20oz bottles. Yup, a diabetes nightmare waiting to happen… which it did. It was hard to move toward drinking water. I honestly hated the taste of it at the time. However, I made myself drink it, and with the help of coffee, I managed to change my palette. Now, I really enjoy the refreshing taste of water… and of course, coffee.

I also added exercise to my life. Having dogs was a great motivator for this purpose. I enjoy a good half hour minimum walk with Arya, and, on the days when it’s possible, we extend it to a full hour. In addition, I have discovered the wonderful effects of yoga. The suppleness it leaves on your muscles, the way it helps build strength, and the relaxation of the mind as you mindfully focus on your breath and the position of your limbs have all been a great boon to my life. I even occasionally add in a Zumba class, or a bit of weight training. The latter, according to my doctor, I should do more of as building muscle helps burn sugar.

In spite of this, the main struggle remains — food. Unlike drugs, you can’t stop eating. You have to eat everyday, so the battle for what you choose to eat and how much is a continuous daily war in your mind. Balanced meals with vegetables are important, but sweets call to me like drug dealers peddling their wares. Stress makes the war harder to win. Some people don’t eat when they are under stress. I, on the other hand, feel a need to eat all the time.

Working with my doctor and my therapist has helped me build in new ways of looking at food as well as strategies for healthier stress management. But the battle continues to rage, and I don’t think it will ever be fully over. The road to being a healthy, balanced person is, in my opinion, the road of life; one which we must all traverse until our time to depart this mortal realm arrives.

** I hope you enjoy the pictures of artist Diane Gelman’s work. You can visit her studio at the Sawyer Yards in Houston, TX.

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