2016 was not a good year for me, the worst in a very long time. I spent the first six months of it going through the five stages of grief re: celiac, lingering the longest in anger as is my tendency. I had a complicated surgical procedure to diagnose the celiac. My husband was denied tenure, and that situation still is not completely settled. My father hurt my feelings terribly this summer, and then he was diagnosed with treatable but uncurable cancer. The first round of treatment he tried categorically failed, and he came very close to dying (which my mother only just told me over the holidays). I was diagnosed with yet another autoimmune disorder, interstitial cystitis, bringing the tally up to three. This diagnosis is very recent, and so I have just entered the five stages of grief for it although I have naturally skipped directly to anger.
Dwelling on all the ways in which this year was terrible would be very easy for me, but to do so is to do myself a disservice because 2016 was in many ways one of the best years I've had in a long time. Because the celiac forced me to reevaluate all my eating habits, changing the way I eat became doable for me in a way that it's never been before. I can't eat out very often, so I'm not frequently consuming high calorie meals at restaurants like I was before. I've learned to eat when I'm hungry and just until I'm full; no seconds and thirds and enormous portions. I've learned to snack wisely and to truly enjoy my snacks instead of mindlessly stuffing my face while I'm watching TV or surfing the internet. I have managed to find a way to eat good food in a healthy manner without feeling deprived or hungry or obsessing over meals, something I never thought possible before now.
I had stopped exercising at the beginning of 2016. I've been a daily exerciser since my mid-twenties, but it had started to feel pointless to me, and I got so depressed over having celiac that I just quit. But in August, I was able to resume my habit of daily exercise, and I discovered running on the elliptical. I find it challenging and rewarding in a way that I haven't found exercise in about ten years. It doesn't feel like a pointless thing I'm doing to check off a list, some abstraction that might let me live a week longer when I'm 84 or whatever. It feels tangible and real and exciting as I see my stamina and distance and intensity increase.
As a result of changing the way I eat and exercise, I lost 41 lbs in 2016 and five inches each from my bust, waist and hip measurements. I started the year out wearing clothes that ranged from 18-1X depending on brand, and ended it in a 12.
I developed good sleeping habits in the last six months of 2016, going to bed at eleven or before (sometimes closer to ten) most nights. As a result, I am less tired in the morning and naturally wake up earlier. I no longer want to sleep all day long and have more energy.
I have also seen an abatement of some of the Hashimoto's symptoms. One of my doctors told me years ago when I first began my quest to figure out what was wrong with me that losing weight might help with the hot flashes and night sweats because fat stores estrogen. Turns out she was right; as I have lost weight, I have had fewer and fewer hot flashes and night sweats until I hardly have them at all. I also have had a sharp reduction in knee and hip pain since I've lost weight. My knees aren't hurting even when it's raining or bitterly cold now.
My father is responding very well to the second treatment his doctors tried, and the cancer is very close to remission right now. I am very grateful that he is doing so well.
For 2017, I want to build on these positives and continue to grow in positive directions.
1. I am really looking forward to building the wardrobe I want that is full of clothes that fit and flatter me and that I bought because I love them not because I had no choice. I will be expending a great deal of energy on that project this week, and then will probably go to buying one garment on my list per month until I've bought everything on my list. I'll be posting about this project throughout the year.
2. I am looking forward to upping my exercise game. I don't expect my cardio routine to change much. I'm enjoying running on the elliptical; it takes me about 46 minutes to reach 500 calories, and depending on how quickly I run, somewhere between 5-5.5 miles. What I want to do now is add in weight training. I've been saying I'm going to start lifting weights again for months and then not doing it, so now's the time. I also want to continue to occasionally run on the ground (maybe once a week). I'm not very good at it, and when I say running I mean the absolute slowest values of running possible LOL, but running on the ground works my muscles totally differently than running on the elliptical which is almost like riding a bike standing up.
3. I want to read more books. Over the last two or three years, reading has become a struggle for me which is something I never thought I'd say. One of the ways my depression and anxiety has manifested is to make me less interested in reading books and more interested in playing mindless games on the phone, for example. Every time I make myself pick up a book and start reading, I enjoy it and am glad I did, though. I got inspired by chelseagirl
's links to their Goodreads roundups of everything they read this year and decided to start an account for myself. I set my goal for this year at 100, so we'll see what happens.
There are other things I want to do or change in my life, but in my experience, starting out small and succeeding is so much better than starting out too big and failing.
I sincerely hope that 2017 will be better for us all and that we can all accomplish the goals we set for ourselves.