Basically, I never thought much about what I ate. What was the point when I was thin and healthy? No worries in the world.
Actually, I never thought there was much consequence for anything in life. After all, "life" was "out there" while me and my body were "right here." The two felt completely separate.
And then in 2006, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and suddenly I thought consciously about the decisions I made in my life. It was a slow and grueling process. I had to peel back layer after layer to try and figure out why I had this debilitating disease, and it took awhile before it dawned on me that it might have been prevented, if only I had known....
Hindsight, as we all know, is 20/20, and so there was no use in regretting my decisions. In my heart, even though arthritis does run in my family, I believe that I never had to develop arthritis. It could have remained a dormant part of my genetic code forever. Part of the reason I developed it––I believe––has to do with my relationship with my husband: I was a jealous little thing, harping on his ex girlfriend and blaming him for my misery when in fact, he had done nothing wrong. I wrote a book about my emotional breakdowns. The other part has to do with my diet choices. I never thought much about my body, and now here I was, arthritic and thinking ONLY of my body.
It took some trial and error work that will likely continue for the rest of my life, but here are a list of things I do that I notice help me feel healthy again that anyone (sick or healthy) might try:
1) I am vegan, eating mostly plant-based food.
2) I stretch in the mornings and at night for 15 minutes at a time.
3) I take 30 MSM capsules everyday (30,000mg). This is sulfur that can be found in rainwater from the fruits and veggies that we consumed. Because we transfer most of our fruits and veggies, the rainwater by the time it gets into our grocery stores has all but disappeared. So we're a nation of sulfur-deficient people. After I started taking MSM, I noticed that I could straighten my knees for the first time in two years. For healthy people, 4 tablets a day is plenty.
4) I eat tons and tons of nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc). Great source of Omega-3s. I also take a B-12 vitamin since, as a vegan, I am in need of more of it.
5) I put a tablespoon of coconut oil in my coffee everyday and rub the stuff on my skin and hair. I even cook with it. Make sure it's virgin and non-refined!
6) I drink only water––no sodas! When I do have a cup of coffee (my weakness), it's black––no sugar! My tea is also unsweetened. If I were to crave milk in my coffee, I would use rice/ almond milk instead.
7) I meditate. I admit, meditating is something I am trying to make a habit, but my mind works overtime. Trying to quiet it feels like a lot of effort, but I always feel more at peace afterwards. I know that there is a strong emotional component to the arthritis. When I am at peace, so is my body.
8) I get plenty of sleep. If I am sleep deprived, my body aches. For me, I need 8 hours, 6 minimum.
9) I appreciate my husband, friends and family everyday. Even if I do not always tell them how much I love having them in my life, I feel it.
10) I am learning to say no when I do not want to do something. This might sound trite, but I have difficulty putting myself first sometimes. I have noticed that, women especially, have a difficult time voicing their wants and needs for fear of not being liked/ loved.
I no longer think of my body or mind as separate from everyone else's. We are all connected whether we like it or not. My bad mood affects other people's. My diet affects the earth and the people (and animals) on earth. My health affects the health of others. Once I "felt" the connection I have to everything on this planet, the decision to change my ways came naturally. And now, even though I have arthritis, I have never felt healthier than I do now, in both body and mind.