Happy or healthy.

In August I will turn 54 years old, just a year younger than the age at which my biological father died. If I recall correctly, he died from pancreatic cancer. Not something I’m too worried about as my doctor started screening me a couple of years ago and I don’t have the smoking and drinking habit that he had. That said, I’m not exactly in great health myself. I’m morbidly obese, diabetic, and have peripheral neuropathy in my feet. These two facts, that I’m closing in on the age my father died and that I’m not exactly in great shape, have led to me considering my own mortality a lot lately. Specifically, whether it’s better to be happy and die young or miserable and live longer.

Despite not being in the greatest shape, I’m pretty happy with life at the moment. I’ve managed to accomplish most of the stuff I’ve long dreamed of — getting married, owning a home, etc. — and while there are things I’d love to do, like travel more, or, at all, I’m happy with where I’m at. Meanwhile, the attempts I’ve made at getting healthier such as eating better and exercising only make me miserable. In part because I stress over the fact that I’m not doing these things like I should be.

As a result, I find I’m spending a lot of time pondering the question of being happy or healthy. My doctor, being an excellent doctor, would argue that once I get into the habits of exercising and eating healthier and lost the weight and got some of my energy back that I’d be even happier, but the fact is I’m happy now and getting to that supposedly happier status would require a lot of misery.

It doesn’t help that when I bought an elliptical and made a good effort to use it regularly for three months, I ended up gaining weight instead of losing it. Everyone said it would get easier after a couple of months, but it never got any easier. As is the fate of most home exercise equipment, it became a coat rack until we sold it when we moved out of Ann Arbor 6 years ago. In a proper and just universe, exercise would show benefits within a couple of days and not months or years later. It would be much easier to be motivated if I actually experienced some of the supposed benefits sooner rather than later. Gaining weight, even if it is new muscle, is not the result I should be getting for my efforts. Not to mention that food that’s good for you would taste better than the bad food.

When we bought the house 4 years ago one of the first things I did was purchase a bicycle to ride around the neighborhood. I even bought one of those stupid helmets. My thinking at the time was that I had to find something that was fun to do so it felt less like exercise and more like playing and I used to love riding my bike as a kid. However, much like the elliptical, I rode it a couple times a week for that first summer and then parked it in the garage for the winter and it has not seen the light of day since. I look at it every time I pull the lawn mower out to cut the grass and I think I should check to see if the tires are still in good shape and maybe pull it out, but I never do. Hell, mowing the lawn is really the only exercise I get at this point and that’s enough to wipe me out for the rest of the day.

The one change I did manage to stick to was giving up drinking pop and switching to water for the majority of the day outside of a couple cups of coffee. That’s mainly because it’s been long enough that drinking pop — both regular and diet — tastes like malted battery acid these days. Doesn’t stop me from missing it or hating every drop of the water I drink, but at least I’ve managed to stick to it.

I’m at the point where I have resigned myself to my fate. I know I should be doing more to improve my health, but I just get depressed whenever I think of what it would take. I’d rather not die young, but I also like sitting and sitting is considered a lethal activity these days. The one thing I am doing is thinking about it a lot. While sitting, of course. Now if only that burned more calories.

5 thoughts on “Happy or healthy.

  1. I’m in a similar boat, with the pandemic actually pushing me into an eating disorder.

    That said, I tried a program called Noom and it works, but it’s a steep learning curve.

    Basically, right now, my meals consist of all the foods – mostly veggies – that take up space in my stomach while providing fewer calories. The going is slow, but effective. I’m at 209, down from 226, after 2 months. And my cooking is basically dumping some frozen vegetables into a pan with lime juice or spices and some chicken and noodles or a wrap of some kind.

    The point of that, of course, wasn’t that I’d lose weight, on its own, it’s that I needed to change my relationship with food, so I didn’t just eat an entire cake in one sitting because I felt good after.

    I’ve learned, though, that every body is different. What I’m doing works for me, but I know plenty of people that it can’t – especially now that some of them are COVID long-haulers. Some of them literally got prescribed potato chips so that they didn’t hit the floor from standing up too quickly.

  2. Similar boat – starting to exercise and eat healthy seems like a daunting task. Low testosterone isn’t helping guys our age either. But I don’t want to end up like my Dad – morbidly obese, diabetic and with massive neuropathy in his feet and legs. I’m already on Lyrica for some slight neuropathy in my toes but no where near pre-diabetic (yet). I need to lose at least 100 lbs to get to where I want to be – I think about it all the time but being sedentary and eating delicious food beats the thought out of my head. But something needs to change or I will be unable to enjoy my retirement years the way I want to – playing golf and traveling the world scuba diving. So something has to change soon.

  3. Yeah, I should lose weight (esp. that which I’ve gained over the last year), eat better and less, ditto drink.

    But I enjoy food and drink, and my pleasurable pastimes, for better or worse, mostly involve sitting in front of a keyboard.

    So, yeah, not much likely to change, without something dire forcing me to that change. So I’ll just have to keep enjoying what I enjoy, and try not to let the guilt/anxiety/irritation-at-myself ruin it.

  4. Can relate. Smoked for the last time like 25 years ago but still miss it.
    Your only hope now is to be abducted by aliens with a weird sense of benevolent humor, who will combine advanced technology and mind-control to put you through a regimen of exercise and proper diet, then go back in time and drop you back where they picked you up. You’ll forget being abducted but still have the unbreakable good habits.

    (Well I had put this comment on Facebook like a dope and here we are commenting on the blog like the world hadn’t been ruined by Facebook yet.)

  5. Very sad Les, and scary now that I hear you might have liver cancer, and something wrong with your pancreas, I feel sad for you, as I think you’re a good person with some mental issues.

    Have you ever been diagnosed with ADD? It seems like, if it’s not too late and I hope it isn’t, you might benefit from Adderal, Ritalin, or Vyvanse.

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