With A Special Kind of Grace
“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that is your own self.” Aldous Huxley
I went back and forth on whether or not to begin this article with a great big “I’M BACK”, and then decided to do it. I’ve been away from HubPages for a few months, not because I wanted to, but because I needed to help me get healthy again….body, mind, and spirit.
A trip to the doctor because of a sinus infection revealed a much more serious problem--extremely high blood pressure. It was so high that the doctor turned to me and in a firm but very gentle and loving voice said “we have to take care of this problem, and we must take care of you. Any number of thinks can be causing your blood pressure to be this high. We will figure it out, but first things first. If we can’t get it down you may be dead very shortly.
Whoa! Scared me. If he meant to shock me to the core and get my attention, it worked. All I could see was my grandchildren somehow discovering my lifeless body. I couldn’t let that happen. I wouldn’t let that happen. A flood of tears came to my eyes temporarily blinding me. The doctor took both my hands in his, looked me in the eyes and said “you can do this. We will start with medication but you have to do the rest.” He didn’t say it but I knew just what he meant. Change the way you eat, and lose some weight.
I really don’t know how I got home. The tears would not stop. My mind was racing with every kind of thought from “feeling sorry for myself” to “how did I let this happen”. Once home, I sat at the kitchen table for a long time. I cried until there were no more tears and then I prayed….a very simple. “Please show me what to do.”
It is so easy to slip into unhealthy habits. I have been, for years, a person who would rather have a slice of cake, a bowl of ice cream, a doughnut, or cookie--you get the picture--than to have a salad or vegetables. Now I do like salads and vegetables but I like the other stuff more. Looking back and with what I now know about sugar is that I had become an emotional eater and my body was addicted to sugar.
For most of my life I was able to balance all the unhealthy eating with moderation and a little exercise. After retirement I just, for lack or a better reason, stopped trying and the addiction became worst. There was no balance anymore. I was allowing the eating, especially of the sugary treats; to fill the void left by the way the company/organization chose to restructure leaving me with the feeling of not being wanted. I could say more but clearly this is a topic that needs to be explored more in-depth.
Retirement was truly not a choice I wanted to make--at least, not at that point. It was, more or less, thrust upon me. When we choice something---right, wrong, or indifferent--it is much easier to deal with. I consoled myself (although I didn’t think of it that way) by feeding the feelings with all the foods I liked. Foods with lots of sugar became my “comfort“ food, my “soul” food. I felt unwanted and so food comforted me, but my soul wasn‘t being nurtured. To a great degree I became depressed and the more down I felt the more weight I gained. I packed on the pounds…almost 70 of them.
As I thought about how far I’d allowed myself to fall, I did something that I really didn’t like doing…..I faced myself…..in the mirror. And, I to talked to myself, really talked. I’ve always believed that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. So it was with me and my rather interesting inner reflection. Something I’d read in “A Course in Miracles came to me---”The holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.”
The Light Bulb Moment
I really think that, for a long time, I’d pretty much hated myself. I’d allowed the actions of some others to define who I was. I’d allowed my strength to be stripped from me because of what others were saying and doing. The answer to my simple prayer came as I looked at myself and said “you girl, have always been a fighter. Your faith and strength have gotten you through many challenges and helped you find many opportunities.” At that moment the love (for me) returned. Then another quote from A Course in Miracles appeared in my thoughts” all your past except its beauty is gone, and nothing is left but a blessing.” I accepted the blessing and went into action.
I became more and more excited about my future. I powered on my computer and typed into the search “high blood pressure” and was immediately overwhelmed with the amount of information that came up. One of the first things I read was a fact sheet with a list of things that could cause high blood pressure. I made it into a checklist for reference and further research.
Too much salt in diet
I cook with salt but rarely use more at table
Too much alcohol
Rarely drink anything stronger than coffee, tea or soda.
Yep....had gained quite a bit
Lack of physical activity
Does run in the family
And here was the kick in the head for me:
TONS! sugar was my addiction
YES, this is it
The Lethal Effects of Sugar
My next move was to look up the affects of sugar on the body. Again, I was met with an overwhelming amount of information
White death is what sugar was once known as. Did you know that? I didn’t. But I can definitely see why. Refined sugar is just as addictive as any legal or illegal drug. It is extremely easy to pour tons of sugar into the body/blood stream every day because refine sugar is in almost everything we American love to indulge in. Of course, there is the obvious which is the flavored coffees, teas, sodas, pastries, cookies, candies, but walk up and down any aisle in the grocery store and read labels. You will actually be surprise at the amount of sugar in most products.
The first thing I decided to do is give up sugar. I knew that I could not half-step this. It was all or nothing. I went cold-turkey. I went through my kitchen and got rid of everything, and I do mean, everything that had more than 5g of sugar. I went to the grocery store and restocked. For two weeks I ate a high protein, low sugar diet. Ate lots of vegetables. I became a champion label reader.
After about three days the sugar cravings, for the most part, went away. After about a week they were gone and the drop in pounds on the scale became my new reward. A trip to my doctor proved that the meds with the new diet was paying off. My blood pressure numbers were dropping. The doctor and I celebrated right there in his office. It was a good feeling. I knew that I could and would continue with the healthy eating. I was seeing results and was really beginning to feel better.
Surrender and Support
I drove home that day with a light heart as I begin to sing a favorite song from my childhood “I Surrender All”. Somehow I knew that I would not get the kind of support I needed. I’d learned something fairly early in life is that not all people who profess their friendship are actually your friends. There were three women I knew would be there for me, come hell or high water, were all in different States. I was on my own through this one so I did the one thing I knew would work for me. I said another prayer but this time in the form of a song.
After a couple of months my youngest son began to notice a change in my appearance and asked me what I was doing differently. I broke down and told him everything. The look on his face and sound in his voice said volumes--my confession frighten him. He reprimanded me for not telling him sooner, but said he was proud of what I’d done to get myself better. Then told me he would do whatever he could to help me
For Mother’s Day he surprised me with a gym membership so that I could add exercise to my routine. And then for my birthday he gave me a beautiful pair of gym shoes. He was more than supportive. I should have known that he would be but because of everything that had happened and the feeling/emotions that overwhelmed me after my retirement, I wasn’t sure of anything. I think in some way and because he is my son….I did not want to scare him with the news in the beginning. Don‘t care how old they get, you still want to protect them.
Now here we are today. I mentioned earlier that I’d gain close to 70 pounds and would have been happy losing that amount. Well, I am down 87 pounds and all my numbers…..blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are now within the normal range. The test had even shown that I was pre-diabetic…..not anymore.
A little side note: Remember me saying I’d gone to the doctor for a sinus problems….turned out to be a bad sinus infection. Prior to my visit I’d been using over the counter decongestants because I thought it was a cold. For someone with a blood pressure problem most over the counter meds are not good and might even be dangerous. Using the over-the-counter decongestants and other cold medicines made my problem even worst. So, be very careful about over-the-counter medications if you have or suspect you have a blood pressure problem.
The Four Agreements
Don't Take Anything Personally
Again, when the student is ready the teacher will appear. And, the teacher, in the form of a wonderful little book titled “The Four Agreement” helped me move pass the feeling that kept me immobile. What others do or say is not about me/you. And, it is not because of you/me. It is a projection of their reality not your/mine. If we allow gratitude to come to the surface it will drown out the negative and we might actually see a blessing in disguise. So remember this:
- Never allow someone or something to define you. Never allow your strength to slip away because of outside actions.
- Have a favorite poem, song, prayer, quote, affirmation to get your through tough days.
- Give thanks everyday for giving you a chance to make life better. Give thanks for your favor and grace. Allow your heart to overflow with gratitude. .
- And please, please don’t take your healthy for granted. Do something to show yourself that you care about you. If you know someone who needs a little encouragement….encourage---show them they matter. Show them that they would be missed.
This is a true story…..my story. My experience of how I came from being blessed with brokenness in body, mind, and spirit to blessed with joy and grace. I do believe that everything that happens is life is, or can be, a gift. Every struggle can be strengthening and preparation for another time. I have opportunities that I never thought would be possible. I now know…..really know that I am fearfully and wonderfully custom-made. I am one of a kind and one of God’s most prized possessions. I am back ….AND with a special kind of grace.
My hope is that someone will be inspired to begin their own journey to a different and much better place. There is truth, love, and joy inside each of us. It is a wonderful thing when we finally allow it to escape. I would absolutely love to hear from you.
Love to all,
Dee (aka Nonna)