Making Lifestyle Alterations is Far Easier than Making Life Style Changes
The word change can be so heavy, causing questioning thoughts to invade a calm self. The word change wakes up the slumbering mind, driving it to multiply confusions and conflicts. The word change nudges the intellect to make conclusive judgments regarding the possibilities and impossibilities of change. The word change pokes the ego into activating the complexes – inferiority, and/or superiority. So much pressure when you decide to make a change – be it personal, professional, or whatever.
There is so much pressure when change needs to made. “Will I be able to implement the changes and adjust to them?” “What will people say, or think?” “What if I fail?” “I have to be really stupid to jerk myself out of my comfort zone and bring about any kind of change, or changes!” These are just a few of the noisy mumblings that rattle the calmness of the self.
Having Type 1 Diabetes since I was 16 years and 7 months, meant changing. The most important thing being my taste buds. Having grown up on so much sweetness, with favourite chocolate and sweetmeats haunting me, it was so difficult to make a change, and drop the sweet treats. I would crave for my body to hit hypoglycaemia in order to indulge my sweet taste buds.
That was only one part of the struggle, the rest was changing my lifestyle to accommodate Type 1 Diabetes. Well, I decided not to bring about any changes, and live the ideal diabetic life as prescribed by the Diabetologists, Endocrinologists, Family Physicians, well-informed cautious well-wishers and superstitious messengers. I chose to challenge myself and lead a life of normalcy.
Over the years I became a workaholic. Leave aside maintaining a healthy schedule for eating my meals, I had no respect for the dos and don’ts of a diabetic diet. I threw all caution in the wind and fled every discussion urging me to change my ways.
To be honest, I did attempt to “change” my anti-diabetic habits, whenever I would arrive at a health crisis, or whenever I felt compelled to get my blood tests done. Obviously my blood glucose levels would be beyond the limits of normalcy and I would dash to the newly recommended Diabetologist or Endocrinologist. I would return home with their list of changes I need to make in my lifestyle. I would promise to implement the changes.
Diligently I would follow the routine for a couple of weeks, only to fall back to my old ways. As they say, old habits die hard, and I add to that new habits come harder. Why make any effort. Life is what it is, and I have to keep going. Take insulin, eat, drink and live; and let live.
Nothing mattered. I could never make those lifestyle changes stick around. They fled from my life, because the old habits stuck to me loyally, battling them, defeating them, and vanquishing them.
But, there comes a time when you need to embrace change. However, it will only happen when you stop looking as change as a replacement to an old habit or pattern. Change happens one-alteration-at-a-time.
It always happens that I have made lofty resolutions for the new year, and have never stuck to them. The reason be we go for big changes, rather than implementing small alterations that we can easily aspire to achieve, motivating us towards continuing on the path of making more alterations that make for the entire change or resolution.
It’s all about adding each drop into the bucket to fill it up; each piece of the jigsaw puzzle to complete it, every stitch in time creates a beautiful piece of embroidery, every knitted knot makes the sweater, every breath makes life. Every alteration leads to the harvesting of change.
So, with the onset of the per-menopausal phase, and the stormy hormonal emotional outbursts, I decided to drop lofty goals, and ambitious habit-changing plans, and make tip toe alterations to my lifestyle.
For one, I knew no drastic changes such as dropiing non-vegetarian food, or going on the ket diet, or for that matter adopting any fads that was trending on social media. I did go from nutritionists-to-nutritionists, but I couldn’t follow any to the tee, simply because each one focussed on the don’ts, which meant giving up on every pleasure, and then they would go onto the do’s, which definitely did not appeal to my mind, intellect and ego triad. They were angry, miserable, starved, rebelling, and forcing the self to indulge in cheat meals, almost on a daily basis.
So, instead of getting healthier, losing the excessive chubbiness all over the body, I was bulging at my seams, getting cosy in dresses wore large and extra-large labels. Nothing seemed to work. Every visit to a nutritionist was followed by a shopping spree to fill in the cabinets with their list of superfoods, eight days later, the superfoods would remain untouched till their expiry date. In the mean time either the weighing scale swung higher, or then refused to move. It very rarely swayed to a lighter weight.
The excessive weight was doing nothing for me. It added to the peri-menopausal emotional swings, took me into the pitches of depression. I became a gigantic nutcase, following fitness freaks on social media, but getting no results.
Then one day, it struck me! No more changes to be made. Let’s make one alteration-at-a-time. So, I started with replacing my breakfast with a bowl of nuts and a cup of brewed Americano coffee while I spend the first hour of the day devouring the crisp pile of newspapers, winding up with the filling in a crossword, and playing word search on the time-pass page of a tabloid. This was followed by my workout, which is aqua-therapy twice-week, and the gym twice-a-week, with a mid-week break for a massage (another alteration I brought in to indulge in some self-pampering-deep-relaxation time).
Oh, I forgot to mention, the early morning thyroid medicine, would encourage me to have 500 ml of water, and by the time I complete my nuts and coffee, I complete another 500 ml of water with my daily dose of supplements. So, that is a minimum of 1 litre water before the workout. Another 500 ml during the workout. 500 ml as soon as I am home, prior to my shower. 500 ml more post-shower-to-pre-lunch. In all prior to my lunch, or rather brunch I usually, effortlessly down 2.5 to 3 litres of water, apart from the Americano refilled with hot water, through newspaper hour.
I used to find it difficult to drink more than 1.5 litres of water a day. I tried big copper bottles, keeping an empty glass with a jug of water, I tried fancy metal bottles; but nothing really made me thirsty. I got myself a 500 ml transparent glass bottle, slim, tall; and fits into my handbags. Emptying out one bottle-at-a-time became a sort of competitive water drinking game that I play daily, with the aim to meet the target, come what may. Also, enjoy feeling detoxed from within, as the body keeps flushing out toxins through the day. And enjoying all the gushing about my glowing skin. Bring on water, one-bottle-at-a-time.
So, with the alteration of breakfast becoming nuts and coffee, I would be famished by 12 noon. So, what was lunch at 1.30 pm; became brunch at 12 to 12.30 pm. So, here came the next alteration.
Obviously, I would feel hungry at 3.30, so here comes a bowl of fruits with a cup of green tea to follow. Then at 5.30 the next alteration added to my lifestyle is protein shake with milk. With all these alterations already implemented, dinner got preponed to 7.30 pm.
Each alteration, one-at-a-time, one-day-at-a-time; going through the trails of trial and error, and weekends of late night and late mornings to follow; blended in together to become a big, healthy lifestyle change.
The entire step-wise alterations to my lifestyle has been effortless and fruitful. I don’t feel the need to binge-eat, or binge drink as the mind, intellect, ego threesome takes much comfort in the lightness of the body. They enjoy the attention and appreciation showered upon the body as praises for the transformation.
We are all asked about our lofty goals and purposes, which we tend to reveal in the garb of gusto and excitement, and yet many-a-time we are left behind, only because we get overwhelmed by the loftiness of our ambitions – personal and professional – distracting us from map we need to design and follow to get there.
Sometimes, on the way you may have to improvise the route; at other times you may need to go back a few steps; but then the completion of the journey happens when you have moved one-step-at-a-time.
Just has life happened through the years of regular menstrual cycle, one day-at-a-time, one-cycle-at-a-time, one challenge-at-a-time; so also this phase of the cycles coming to an end shall pass by, one-lifestyle-alteration-at-a-time.
I don’t believe in changing my mood with time, but altering the mind set with activities that engage the mind, intellect, ego triplets; calming them; encouraging them to be useful and productive, motivating them, inspiring them, indulging their 100 per cent participation and involvement in each alteration, one-by-one.
When we set lofty goals of change and resolutions, we wait to achieve them to be rewarded. However, if you reward the self on accomplishing each alteration, then the crazy three – mind, intellect, ego – are motivated to embrace the next alteration. Sometimes they nudge and suggest what could be the next alteration in the entire paradigm change the self aspires to achieve.
This keeps you busy and occupied, and beyond experiencing the bodily and hormonal transitions of the peri-menopausal phase. Wake up to a new day, with each breath leading you to make an alteration that fits into the larger scheme of your ambitious change. By then end of the day, you’ll feel so good, that your mind, intellect and ego will allow you to get restful sleep walking you through the terrain of dreams that inspire the day to come.
Every alteration you make to your lifestyle, is one piece that integrates your life into a whole, breath-by-breath.