In the wake of my dad’s recent death, there was a lot of fumbling through old boxes of papers to find various original documents we needed, like my mom and dad’s marriage certificate. Whilst digging through lots of brown, aged, handwritten papers we discovered a number of death certificates from both sides of the family; every single one of them had died from cardiac related illness, mostly heart failure or a by-product thereof.
My dad? He died of kidney failure caused by the medication he was taking for his congestive heart failure.
It made me realise something. The relatives I had personally known who died from heart complications, was that they all led quite unhealthy lifestyles, involving things like sugar, bread and alcohol. My dad only drank once a week for the most part, but would easily consume four or five pints in a single afternoon down the pub on a Sunday. He ate a mostly high-carb diet, the fats he ate were not healthy fats but rather vegetable oils and margarines, and he absolutely loved his sweets. He also ate quite a lot of bread; he was quite the one for sandwiches, was my dad.
My point here? Whilst it wasn’t exactly unknown to me before, in light of all that has happened recently, it has truly made me start thinking about my lifestyle and how very, very bad it is. My dad had his first heart attack (one of two) when he was just 45 years old. I am only 12 years younger than he was.
Surprisingly, as much as fit-freaks love to spout ‘good luck dying in your 30s’ to people who are fat and eat bad, we are more likely to die in our 40s and 50s. I don’t know why, but that’s statistics for you. It is indeed athletes who are more likely to die in their 30s, due to ‘carb loading’ before exercise.
But I digress.
The idea that I could potentially have a heart attack and drop dead in my kitchen like my aunt did in as little as seven years is frankly kind of terrifying. Medically, I’ve been through the wringer. I’ve had my tonsils out. I’ve had neuropathic pain problems that, whilst in remission, will mean brain surgery if it comes back. I’ve had my gallbladder out and pushed through early sepsis when the wound got infected in hospital. I’ve survived cancer for god’s sake.
But I can’t stop biology from doing its thing. I need to change my ways; I want to change my ways. I want to be healthy, I want to lose weight and I want to stop running in circles and writing these posts as if this time I’ll really make the effort.
A few months ago, I went on a very low carb diet. I loved it; bacon and eggs for breakfast, steak soaked in butter for dinner, cheese for a snack if I absolutely had to… it was divine! Very filling, sometimes a little boring (thanks to a lifelong carb addiction), but it was healthy. My depression cleared up, I slept like a baby (as oppose to waking up every day at 2-3am like I do now), I lost 15lbs in three weeks and my skin looked fantastic.
And then mother nature came along and the PMS made me binge so hard that within a week or two I’d gone straight back up to my original weight. I fell off that wagon hard. It wasn’t the diet that caused it, it was me. Although the diet helped my depression, it isn’t a cure and so after a pretty bad run of it for a few days, I gave in to my own self-pity and fell screaming off the back of the wagon. And I hit the ground hard.
I suddenly started eating take-out every single day. I’d never done that in my life, and yet for about the three months or so that followed, I would basically fast all through the day and eat late at night before flopping into bed feeling sick from binging on bad food. Even when I sat there thinking ‘nah I really do not want this’, I would do it autonomously and be cursing myself the entire time.
Well, it’s time to put a stop to it. Today I start streaming again on a regular schedule. I have high hopes for it, and I figured today was as good as any to also start trying as hard as I can to be healthy. I don’t want to become one of those 50 year olds who has to waddle with a walking stick because my ass can’t quite keep up. I don’t want to be forced onto killer Statins, or wind up on dialysis because the drugs for my heart-failure-related fluid build up is destroying my kidneys.
I want to be out there hiking through forests, swimming in lakes, climbing crags. I want to take confident selfies and enjoy jumping into a group photo, rather than shying away from it and hating myself for capturing no memories of my life. I need to stop this. I want to stop this.
I am “lucky” that despite how bad I’ve eaten lately my weight has literally gone to the exact weight (219.6 lbs) that I was at the beginning of my low-carb diet before, so I’ve no extra weight to lose, I can simply reset with a good conscience and start over. Today, I am going to be doing a simple water-and-tea fast until about 5pm, where I will eat, and then get ready for my stream.
I can do this. Come on.