I’ve always hated toes. They’re big, stumpy and fat, and clumsy as I am, I always manage to stub mine. So two years ago, when my toe started throbbing, warranting a high-cost trip to the doctor’s on my high-deductable plan, I wasn’t exactly thrilled.
I’d been exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, but once I was diagnosed with the chronic arthritic disease (that I was told takes place 85 percent of the time in old, obese African-American males), I went into health overdrive. I gave up alcohol all-together and became a vegetarian. I also stayed away from baked goods, sweets and breads as much as possible. The vegetarian part wasn’t so hard, but the rest was a challenge. Those weekly baked goods my kind-hearted colleagues left in the break room on Fridays were hard to resist, and going out without drinking and trying to explain my new lifestyle choice was trying.
Over time, I introduced a little wine from time to time and a few sweets here and there back into my diet. At almost two years into my prognosis, I’d lost about 25 pounds and hadn’t touched the medication I’d been prescribed. Still no toe-swelling flare-ups and I was pretty darn pleased with myself. People told me I should really think about fish and that one beer couldn’t hurt, which bothered me that they had the audacity to advise me on things I’d worked hard to refrain from for health’s sake. They said most people took meds, and that I should too. But I didn’t want to budge.
Then came the honeymoon. I thought of all the amazing fresh fish and French wine I’d want to enjoy, and I put in a call to my doctor. I told her my dilemma, and she assured me that though an upset tummy might come with one of the medications, I’d be okay with trying fish and even shellfish while I was out of the country in beautiful St. Barth. I was elated.
I enjoyed fish twice a day and admittedly, some afternoon cocktails in the late day’s sun, after our long swims. I even ordered my own side of fries once or twice. It was great. I became less inhibited and more laissez-faire, which is just what the French culture we wanted to embrace seemed to encourage.
Back at home, a new pre-Prohibition amazingly hipster but classy cocktail bar opened up around the corner, as did an artisinal ice cream shop. We finally had time to go out with friends — grilling burgers (and veggie burgers for me — I went straight back into no-meat zone after the honeymoon), enjoying drinks and having a good time at our favorite local bar. We hadn’t spent as much as we’d anticipated on the trip, and after the third round of 150 thank-yous and all the name-changing hullaballoo, the husband treated me to a nice dinner or two.
My toe didn’t like it. “I’ll just take meds, like everyone else,” I thought. This is what most people do. The pain would come back in spurts, and it was more a numbness than anything else, so I let it slide. I put on a few pounds, which was fine, but the tenacity and strength I’d grown and cultivated had waned. That pride I’d had wasn’t there anymore and it was so easy to succumb to temptations, and to overindulge, just because.
Then I read this New York Times article, “Don’t Indulge. Be Happy,” by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton. A study’s findings state that it’s more enjoyable to withhold albeit for a little taste every here and there, than having the thing all at once, they informed me. People are happier when they’re given $20 and told to spend it on someone else than on themselves, another study found. Basically, don’t go overboard. It’s not worth it to your psyche. That was the gist.
I liked it, I got it, but still. Now, running out of medication and wanting to get back on track, I’ve given myself one week get whipped into shape again before I make that dreaded call to the doctor for a visit ($$) and more meds (more $). I’m recruiting my old faithfuls:
- CalorieCount.about.com – to log, which a recent study has proven to be a success
- Good old P90X coupled with my 3-mile running route
- Daily half-hour walks during lunch
- At least 12 glasses of water a day
- No bread, meat, fish, baked goods
- Less coffee (two cups a day, and none of that mixed with hot cocoa business)
- No booze
- Fruit/veggies five times a day
- No fat dairy three times a day
- Plenty of protein, fiber, iron and potassium
The consequences, are not dire, I’ll freely admit that. But, the way I come out on the other side is a tell-tale sign of what I’m capable of. And let’s be honest, I know I’m better than this. It’s time I put my best foot (and not the one with the big gout toe) forward. Wish me luck!
Have any recipes, work-outs or health tips to share? I can use all the help I can get.