Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Health Checkpoint: Rebecca, June 2014

This post originally appeared on Have Your Health, a past blog of mine active from 2013-14.

I resolved to focus on my digestive health this year, and this blog was created to help me make improvements. We're just over the halfway through 2014, so it's as good a time as any for a health checkpoint to see where I'm at, using the "good health" categories I wrote about in March.

1. Food

  • I've stopped buying convenience store snacks/chocolate as well as bread, and I no longer go to the pizza place in town.
  • I now eat a banana every morning, and another when I get home from work in the afternoon.
  • Since reading about the Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet, I consciously try to finish all of my vegetable side dishes at lunch at school, while not being concerned about finishing the meat sides.
  • Learning about prebiotics last month prompted me to start eating sweet potatoes, skin and all, hoping to introduce some new strains of bacteria into my gut.
  • I stopped using a microwave.
I could still eat less chocolate, though I give into my cravings much less than at the start of the year. I have hopes of eating even healthier once I'm back in a country where I can read the ingredient lists on packages, shop at Whole Foods/Trader Joe's, and have a boyfriend with a juicer.

2. Water

  • I have a water bottle at school that I try to finish and re-fill every day at work.
  • I started boiling tap water to refill my water supply, so that the inconvenience of buying and carrying home 2 liter bottles of water at the grocery store won't prevent me from drinking water at home.
The summer heat has me drinking more water lately, though I could/should still drink more.

3. Sleep

  • Sleep has always been a priority for me; my body is wired for 8+ hours every night and I make sure to get it.
To improve sleep even more, I could try adapting a "no technology a half-hour before bed" type of rule.

4. Exercise

I only ran three times this spring, and now it always feels too hot to run (also it simply hasn't been a priority during my free time). In recent years I've played on an ultimate frisbee team and had either practices or games 2+ times a week, so I'm not getting nearly as much exercise as I'd like. I'm glad I've started stretching though, as that movement is better than nothing. I should take advantage of any future cool days we may have and go for a run in my town, do a short workout at home, or some dancing!

5. Mental Health

  • I've been writing a Thankful Thursday post on my personal blog nearly every week, which helps me focus on gratitude.
  • I write letters to my friends and family, which often gets me thinking about how much I appreciate them.
  • I walk to school every day, taking a street with walls of green on both sides instead of the main street on a busy road. I love walking through the plants and soaking it in every morning and afternoon.
Even though my closest friends are continents away and I spend almost all of my time alone when I'm not at work, my mind has been great this year! I did have a low slump in February, but since then I've been using the alone time to read, stretch, learn about food, write, send snail mail, blog, etc. I'm taking advantage of the time to better myself, rather than feel lonely or sorry for myself. Glad that as people, we can choose how to respond to our situations!

6. Supplements

I just have two boxes of probiotic packs that I'll gradually finish up before I move from Korea come September.

7. Digestion

Finally, I'll talk a bit about where I'm at with my IBS-D, the main focus of my health year. Unfortunately I haven't seen any change or improvement (for nearly the past three years!), even though my diet has changed since living in Korea. I would like to have a stool sample analyzed to figure out what strains of bacteria are and aren't in my gut, and how many of each. I'd also like to see if I have any fungus overgrowth, like John's Candida overgrowth. I'm looking into having this done in Korea, but the language barrier and other hurdles of navigating a medical system in a foreign culture might force me to wait until I'm stateside in the fall.
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