You know how, sometimes, you read health stories in magazines, or you listen to a report on TV about the latest research, and you think: “I can’t possibly do all the things the world recommends to keep myself healthy?” Well, imagine you are a health writer, and your job is to be on top of the latest research—to find that magic bullet that is protective against breast cancer and heart disease (oh, right, it’s exercise, and maybe chocolate, and possibly wine, but only if you have no family history of breast cancer and you’re half orangutan. Ok, I made that middle part up, whatever.). You spend your days mentally checking off the boxes in the “I’m not supposed to do/eat/think this column.” Or, if you’re me, you think: ‘Oh, great, I just ran three miles, but I forgot to stretch, and now I’m sitting on my butt writing for the rest of the day, and I read somewhere that that could be worse for me than not exercising at all.’
And then, of course, the science changes. Things you thought you were supposed to avoid (hello, eggs), turn out to be just peachy, thankyouverymuch. Still, you can’t shake the notion—or, at least, I can’t shake the notion—that while I’m doing research on a story on heart disease prevention, it’s a sort of sacrilege to down three mini-quiches at the coffee shop while I send email queries to experts. I know, I know, I’m a rebel without a cause. Here are some other things I do, dead wrong:
I don’t sleep much. At all. Instead, I struggle to stay awake to see how House Hunters: Renovation turns out. (Hint: It cost more than they budgeted to spend. There were unexpected delays. It’s more beautiful than they can imagine. And they are now trapped in a museum quality masterpiece of a house that they cannot afford.) Sleep is one of those things experts like to tell me, for attribution, that make a difference in weight gain, weight loss, inflammation, heart health, and a host of other health issues. That’s all well and good, but if the Property Brothers are on my DVR, well, they’re not going to watch themselves!
I over-caffeinate. This works out well for no one. Except for the imaginary people who are chasing me.
I forget to floss. My awesome dental health professional, Mike, likes to tell me I can get by with a few days a week. This, to my ears, is code for “not at all.” Oops.
I try to “win” yoga. This is defeatist in about six different ways. First of all yoga is where you are supposed to find your Zen, go inward, and forget that other people are in the room. Missy, the instructor in my Wednesday morning class, overheard me telling a pal, before class, that I had gotten so enchanted with the idea of “flipping the dog” and doing “wheel” pose, because the substitute instructor said something about “reaching for a goal,” in the previous week’s class, that I spent the rest of the week with a pinched nerve in my neck. So, the whole class got a lecture about checking our egos at the door, and just doing what our bodies want in the moment. My body, it wants to WIN, dammit.
I bite off more than I can chew and burn the candle at both ends while thinking up other cliches to describe my predicament. This is a version of the lecture I received from my parents for my entire educational career, every time I took on a role in the school play, plus wrote for the school newspaper and joined three fun clubs, at the expense of my GPA. That last part just makes me a bad writer.
I don’t stretch after I work out. Not enough, anyway. My hamstrings are forever tight. I have failed massage. Twice.
I eat sugar. Not tons. Unless there’s a bag of marshmallows in the house. Then, watch out, people.
I want fries with that. Every time. Never, ever, ever do I substitute the salad.
I spend too much time on social media. It’s an occupational hazard. I am endlessly curious, and also always in pursuit of a story idea. And if three friends whine about the same thing—sore hamstrings from spinning, guilt over eating something yummy, or whatever…it could be a trend!
All in all, none of these are terrible health sins. I still subscribe to the “everything in moderation, including moderation,” mantra. But I know, too, that I let myself get away with too many of these things, too frequently. Especially the sleep thing. So, what are you letting slide? What health habits do you consciously overlook, and then berate yourself for doing so?