As opposed to January 1, I always use the Jewish New Year to make my “resolutions.” (I absolutely cannot make a resolution to change anything in the middle of the winter except for where I live!) What would I like to improve, or change, in the routines of my life? What can I do better for myself and for those around me—my husband, my children, my friends, and my family?
Year after year, near the top of my list is always a resolve to exercise more and eat better in order to lose weight—and no doubt I am not alone in that desire. But this year I have decided to reevaluate what it is that I really am hoping to achieve.
Of course I would like to fit into some of my older—and favorite!—jeans. But that’s not likely going to happen—probably not ever. This year, I have decided that my weight, how I look, and my clothing are not really the issues that need resolving. Many of us—women especially—are so focused on the scale that we are missing what really matters: the inside. Isn’t that what we have been taught since childhood? It’s what’s on the inside that counts? That beauty is only skin deep?
Let me digress here for a moment. In 2011, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Back then I knew a few people who suffered from UC, but I really knew nothing at all about the disease. It’s pretty awful.
At the time of my diagnosis, my favorite jeans fit great—and then suddenly not at all as my weight plummeted over the course of only a few weeks; I lost almost 20 lbs and bottomed at 82 lbs. I was hearing about my children’s days through the bathroom door; the bathroom was my new home. (My kids actually offered to bling the toilet!) I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and I looked like crap. I was cranky and irritable, sad and worried, and desperate to feel better.
It was hard to be kind and warm and loving when I felt horrible and depressed and scared. I needed my “inside” to get better. I followed all of the doctors’ instructions: lots of pills, Remicade infusion treatments at the hospital, stay near a bathroom at all times. I hate to even think about it now.
One of the hardest things for me to deal with during my worst times was the loss of control over my own “self.” We all need some level of control in our lives and I had none. So I did the only thing that was within my control at the time: I researched. I read, discussed, and absorbed as much information as I could about my disease and my body on the inside. I started thinking about what made sense and I made changes—against the advice of my doctor. I changed my health for the better, mainly by changing what I was putting inside my body. My doctor stated changing my diet would have no effect on my disease. But I believed otherwise.
My whole life right now is pretty much dedicated to promoting a grain-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free lifestyle. Am I fanatic? I don’t think so. But do I try to shout from my own rooftop about how important it is to eat well and take care of your body—on the inside! In fact, these beliefs are what led me to open my business, Squirrel & The Bee Bakery and Café. What started out simply as a way to help heal myself has turned into one of the best adventures of my life (although raising teenagers is close behind…).
Fast forward to where I am today. I have gained back all of the 20 lbs and about 10 more for cushioning (bye-bye favorite jeans!). And for a long time, I was pretty unhappy about all of the extra weight and how I looked carrying it around.
Losing that weight isn’t on my resolution list this year. Now that I know how to eat properly for my health, what else can I do for my “inside?”
I can start by looking at the outside of my body with the same warmth, kindness, and caring that I would give to anyone else. My body is strong enough to allow me to work a ridiculously busy schedule without getting sick. It provides a softer hug for my children and my husband. I am free of UC symptoms and for that I am thankful.
So this year I resolve to adopt some new routines: to exercise not for weight loss, but to keep my body (and my mood) feeling good on the inside. I hope to meditate, keep a gratitude journal, and set aside time every day to take care of myself. If I can do that, I can hopefully achieve some more patience, be happier even when I’m having an off day, and maybe—even maybe—I might find a new pair of favorite jeans.