Friday, after I finished blogging, I got all of my hair cut off.
I headed to the salon with the latest issue of Glamour in tow, and within minutes of showing my hairdresser the cover photo of Anne Hathaway's short, sassy pixie cut, I was wearing a cape and watching my shoulder-length locks fall to the ground all around me. I can't say I look half as good as Anne, but it was a much-needed change that I'm glad I finally mustered the courage to make. It will act as a symbol and reminder of my fresh start in 2013--not to mention all the primping time it will save!
As I mentioned in Recalibrating, my New Year's resolutions will be primarily focused on restoring balance in my life, albeit a new definition of "balance" weighted more towards things that are truly important to me and less towards mindless distractions and somewhat trivial successes. In this post, I'll discuss my goals that pertain to the TBA principle of "health"; later, I'll talk about my resolutions related to the "happiness" and "harmony" aspects.
In several previous posts, I've discussed my knee and shoulder injuries that began last July and have lingered with little improvement ever since, despite lots of rest and physical therapy. Then, in (Inner) Strength Training, I mentioned that further investigation revealed some "underlying issues" at work that needed to be addressed first and foremost. This phrasing was intentionally vague, as I didn't want to reveal too much until I had more definitive information. Now, thanks to a bone densitometry scan, we know a lot more about the potential cause of the pain: lower than normal bone mineral density.
This finding was quite disheartening, since by my research I appeared to be a good candidate for healthy bones. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, "the recipe for bone health is simple: Get enough calcium and vitamin D, and eat a well balanced diet; exercise; and don't smoke or drink." Check, check, and check. So how did this happen?
It's no secret that I've always been a pretty thin person. I certainly eat a lot (just ask all the young men that I've out-eaten on dates), but it seemed that the combination of my active lifestyle, off-the-charts metabolism, and history of GI issues had doomed me to a life of perpetual Popsicle-stick-dom. I've always wished I was bigger, stronger, and curvier, but I figured that since I incorporate a variety of nutritious foods into my meals and snacks (while also enjoying treats like chocolate and ice cream on a daily basis), eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full, always feel energized, rarely get sick, and have clear skin, strong nails, and shiny hair that grows so fast you'd wonder if I shampooed with Miracle Grow, it must just be my genetic lot in life. So I did what we're always being told to do: I learned to accept my body type and move on.
What I didn't realize, however, was how detrimental a low BMI can be to bone health. As my doctor explained to me, women must have sufficient estrogen levels in order to stimulate normal bone-building, and the production of estrogen requires a certain amount of body fat. Thus, during all this time I've spent following the "simple rules" for bone health, my low BMI has been undermining my efforts.
So what originally began as a trip to the doctor to get some relief from an annoying injury so that I could get back to my workout routine has morphed into a full-blown quest to restore my hormone levels and bone mineral density. Thus, while thousands (millions?) of Americans pledge to lose weight and exercise more in 2013, I'll be resolving to do exactly the opposite: gain weight and rest. I'm sure it's the last thing that most people want to hear as they try to muster the motivation to eat less and hit the gym, but gaining weight is just as difficult for some people as losing weight is for others. For people like me, putting on a few pounds isn't just a matter of eating more ice cream--I already do that! It's a consistent effort to make sure that I maximize the energy density in every meal and snack, regardless of whether I'm actually hungry. It's also not a complete junkfest--I need lots of healthy foods, too, especially given my history of tummy troubles.
So what does all of this mean for TBA? Nothing, really! When I post a recipe, I might include a footnote with the modifications that I made to increase the energy density of the dish, and I'll share progress updates every so often. But otherwise, I'll continue sharing information, tips, and anecdotes about saving energy, sticking to a budget, eating locally, and living an overall healthy, balanced, fulfilling life.
And finally, what does all of this mean for you? I suppose you could say that the moral of the story is that skinny isn't everything it's cracked up to be, but really, it isn't so much about weight as it is about doing what's right for you. Prior to this whole ordeal, I didn't realize just how much health needs can vary among individuals. Health and wellness guidelines--even those provided by well-respected institutions such as the CDC or DHHS--are just that: guidelines. Some people might need to exercise more than the recommended daily amount in order to lose weight; others might not need a full 8 hours of sleep in order to feel rested. In my case, although I might have been eating plenty for someone else, I wasn't eating enough for my personal combination of activity level, genetics, and metabolism. I'm certainly disheartened to discover that I already have weak bones at age 21, but at the same time, I'm so relieved to know this now, when there is still time to fix the problem.
I'll return later this week with the rest of my 2013 resolutions. Until then, I wish each and every one of you a safe and happy New Year. Thanks for being such wonderful readers.
What are your health-related resolutions for 2013?