A Healthier Lifestyle

We are making some big changes around the Hill HangOut! Y’all, I know I just turned 40, but I had begun to feel like I was 80. My bones hurt. I had no energy. I felt sluggish and weak. I began to wonder if I had something like fibromyalgia. I literally could not exercise because I just didn’t have the energy to do it. I wasn’t sleeping well at all. And my mood about it all? Well, let’s just say that my family was paying the price. I knew I had to make some changes.

It was easy to blame my poor choices on our lifestyle. We stay on the go and in the car most of our days. When I’m out and about, we don’t have a lot of healthy places to eat. Since eating out is one of the things we cut back on so that I can stay home with my girls, eating a nice salad at a restaurant everyday just wasn’t an option. And the fact that my husband works long hours and it’s just so much easier for the girls and I to run through a drive-thru at the end of a long day wasn’t helping at all. One day Jonathan and I just got fed-up (literally and figuratively). We knew we had to make changes and a diet wasn’t going to cut it. We needed to transform our lifestyle.

It has not been easy to change life-long eating habits. We basically showed no self-control and ate whatever tasted the best. Powdered donuts for breakfast? Sure! Poptarts for a mid-afternoon snack? Why not! McDonald’s or Mexican food for lunch EVERYDAY? No problem! Salad with low-calorie dressing? No thanks! Exercise? I’m too busy.

Our attempt at changing some bad lifestyle habits to healthier ones has gone better than I expected. I think it’s due in part to the fact that we didn’t make drastic changes all at once that we knew we would not be able to hang with. We gave ourselves plenty of time to make the changes little by little, and we have found it easier to stick with. Instead of totally getting rid of all unhealthy food, we began by adding in fruits and veggies. When we were consistent in that area, I added in yogurt instead of desserts. Once that adjustment had become routine, it was easier to eliminate junk food like sugary cereals and toaster strudels. The key was to make the changes slowly and over time so that we didn’t have such a chock all at once.

I had begun to suspect that caffeine and artificial sweeteners were causing some of the sluggishness and general achyness, so next I began the arduous task of eliminating it. I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but Diet Mountain Dew was my vice. I started by setting a limit of four per day for a week. The next week, I cut back to three. The next week, to two. I am currently at one big one and one little one. Next week I’ll switch to two little ones and continue on from there. Again, the key was taking it slowly. I would add in glasses of water to replace the Mountain Dew as well. By about week three, I was feeling a little better. The fatigue was slowly improving and the achy-ness was going away bit by bit.

I have always been vigilant about taking calcium. Years of selling osteoporosis drugs will do that for you. I know well that I am at high risk for developing this debilitating bone disease later in life because of my small frame, Caucasian race, and lack of exercise. So I have been popping calcium since I was in my late twenties. I would also occasionally remember to take a multi-vitamin. But I began to think that years of eating a poor diet and the last year of getting little to no exercise was taking its toll on the vitamin levels in my body. For about two months I have been adding in supplements like fish oil, vitamin C, vitamin D, St. John’s Wort, melatonin, evening primrose oil, and upped my consistency on calcium and a multi-vitamin. I think that these vitamins and supplements have played one of the biggest parts in my feeling better. Since taking them consistently, I have felt so much better. I have more energy and my attitude has improved. I am not as snappy and don’t get aggravated and impatient as often. And I have been able to drop the melatonin because sleep is no longer an issue. I go right to sleep when I get in bed. It has been years since I could enjoy that simple pleasure.

While I still don’t get as much exercise as I would like, our eating habits have made HUGE strides. As a family, we have eliminated most (but not all) processed foods. We eat far less fast food, and when we do eat fast food, we make healthier choices. We have added in far more dark leafy veggies and fresh fruits. I drink more water and less Diet Mountain Dew. We take our vitamins and supplements. We drink more water. We sleep better and longer.

One tool that has been especially helpful is the LoseIt app on my iPhone. You can link it to LoseIt.com, and it will help you track your food consumption and exercise daily. You plug in your current weight and your desired weight and how much time you are giving yourself to lose the weight, and it tracks your calories for you. If you exercise, you get to eat more calories. If not, you have to limit your food intake. It is really rewarding to look at the graph after a few days and see your weight trending downward. Love that downward pointing line!!

Y’all I can’t tell you how much better I have been feeling since we made these changes! My children have noticed the changes, and even though they don’t always want to eat healthier foods, they are making progress. We are committed to it!


  1. SweetMissMagnolia says

    know what you mean,those sodas are addicting. I've been a diet coke drinker for years. I would drink them all day and very little water. A few months ago I decided to cut them out.It wasn't as hard this time as other times-guess I had to be in the right mindset.Now I enjoy cold water. I still get sodas when we go out to eat,but that's far less than I used to consume. We're trying to cut out processed foods,artifical colorings, and artificial sweeteners–and for a diabetic giving up sugar free sweeteners isn't easy.

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