This week’s theme is all about physical health. I’ve had a couple of instances over the past week that have really shaped my thinking about my physical health, and though I have dedicated a good part of my adult life to trying to keep up my health, I believe I have been coasting and can do much better. I want to do much better.
I spent the majority of last week in Los Angeles for a field meeting for work. I have a specific client, which is a film studio, that invited all its reps from around the country to come meet their team in LA for a three day field meeting where we watched footage from future films, saw two of their finished upcoming films and spent a lot of time brainstorming promotional and publicity strategy. We were at an absolutely gorgeous hotel in West Hollywood with a heated rooftop pool, and all of our meals were catered in. Although it was definitely work and we really didn’t have free time, I can honestly say that I had a blast!
The two days I was there, I actually woke up, willingly, at 6:00 am so I could swim laps in the rooftop pool. I would glance up to breathe during strokes and see blue sky, sunshine and palm trees. It was amazing! Not only that, but because I was up so early both days (I convinced myself that I could sleep on the plane on the way home!), I actually got to see the sun rise over the city. I hopped out of bed, threw on my glasses and watched the sun peak out from behind the sky scrapers in the distance. This is not normal. I am not a morning person. Most of the time, if I see the sunrise, it is definitely not by choice because I would never choose to get out of bed that early. It is a struggle. But if there is one thing that can coax me out of bed, it is pure sunshine. And just to see the sun peaking through the sliding glass door to the balcony was enough to force me up. It was such a small part of the day – waking up to see the sunrise and spending 30 minutes swimming laps, but it really set my mood for the entire trip. I was absolutely glowing both days because of it. The change I felt in my mood was amazing.
On top of that, our food options were so fresh and healthy. Fresh fruit, my absolute favorite thing that I would probably live off of it I could afford it, was constantly available. Blueberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries. There was fresh salad for lunch, made to order pastas topped with fresh sauces and vegetables, snacks of tortilla chips with fresh salsa and guacamole, ice cold water with fresh citrus slices…. One of the founders of the film studio is apparently “cheating time” with kale shakes and blueberries. Though he’s an extremely kind, involved boss (so I’m told), one of his staff told me that there will be problems if anyone steals his blueberries out of the office fridge! It was inspiring to be around that. There was a catered dinner one night at his house (which is in the Hollywood Hills and absolutely amazing), and even the alcoholic drinks included fresh arugula, pomegranate and lavender. I try to eat fresh, whole foods whenever possible, but with my crazy schedule and limited income, I don’t always choose the healthiest options. When I’m working a screening until 10:00 pm, I will often grab a theater pizza instead of waiting until I get home. Though I definitely ate more than I needed to on the trip, it renewed my dedication to healthy eating, and moving forward (now that my crazy month of work has come to an end), I’d really like to continue meal planning and prepping and including more leafy greens like kale, fresh seeds and nuts and of course, fresh fruit, to the mix even if they aren’t the cheapest and easy options. I’m sure it’s much, much easier to make the right choices if you are a billionaire with your own company, but I know there are ways in which I can do better, and I want to do so.
The second instance that has really renewed my interest and dedication to physical health was the fact that I went out drinking both nights this past weekend. And though it was fun, it was also extremely expensive and made me feel pretty physically terrible. When I was younger (and used to drink a whole lot more often and in much larger quantities), alcohol made me (for the most part), more of the version of me that I liked. I was more fun, more friendly, less inhibited, less shy. I was the life of the party nearly every time I went out, and people loved me for it (again, for the most part). I quit drinking for a large part of last year because I was on painkillers for my back problems. I couldn’t have more than a drink or two or it would make me extremely nauseous. I believe my psyche was much better when I didn’t drink. I had more energy, was clearer-minded, didn’t spend my weekends sleeping until 11:00 am or laying in bed with nothing to do because I had a killer headache, bothered by how bright the sun was.
Now, it seems like when I drink I become more emotional, more sensitive, more self-conscious and less of the me that I like. If Rich’s number had been in my phone this weekend, there is a strong possibility I would have texted him to tell him how mean, selfish, condescending and lazy he is. Luckily, I deleted his number because even sober, I do think those things. “The nicest man I ever dated” seized to exist once I took off my rose-colored relationship glasses and stopped letting everything slide just because I loved him and wanted it to work and thought he was adorable. But regardless of what I think of my ex-boyfriend, I do not need to put that kind of negative energy out into the world. He has enough problems; he probably doesn’t need me to remind him what a cold-hearted asshole I think he is. And even if it would have made me feel better for a second, being a malicious, hateful person is not going to help me along on my journey of health and happiness. It would be a setback, and I am working hard to try and shed this anger and heartache, not hold onto it and let it out to play when I’m drunk.
After a night of drinking, I also tend to spend the next two days feeling significantly less happy and confident. I don’t want this to be the way that I spend my life and all my free time. The time I have is so precious and I want to be the best me that I can be. I think that has to mean staying away from booze for the most part. I won’t say that I’m never going to drink. I see no problem having some wine or a beer during a special occasion. Every summer, I go to a wine festival in the Finger Lakes in New York for a weekend, and spend the entire weekend drinking wine, camping out and living like I have no cares in the world. It is wonderful and I have no intention of giving it up. What I do intend to give up is the need to have wine every time it is offered. Just because I go out to a birthday party, doesn’t mean I need to drink as much as the birthday girl, or drink at all. I could drink coffee and be happier.
I know it was much easier to say no when I had the medication excuse. Even as an adult, saying no to a drink is not the norm. You get plenty of questions about why you don’t want to partake. But I need to consciously choose to say no in most of these circumstances. My friend Sharla from work doesn’t really drink, and she tells people it is for health reasons. She actually told me this morning (and I haven’t researched this so don’t quote me on it) that one night of binge drinking, which is only four drinks for women, causes you to lose enough serotonin that it takes your body three weeks to gain it all back. I think I will start doing the same, because this decision truly is for health reasons. I don’t need to be drinking a beer (or four) to have fun being out with friends, so I need to start abiding by that and dedicating myself to my own body and my own health as opposed to social norms. I’m not saying that I think alcohol is horrible by any means, but I do not think my body likes it and I believe cutting way back is the best decision for me.
Physical health is so important for mental health, and I know that in this emotionally fragile point in my life, I need to be better to myself. If it means going to the bar and drinking coffee or water, spending a bit of extra time and money to eat healthier, more nutritious foods and learning to say no on occasion, that is what I will need to do. Onward to better health and more happiness!