Health Crises in Your 50s: If It Can Happen To Me, It Can Happen To You!


the picture of health, huh? Not inside!

Health crises in your 50s. It's a real epidemic. 

Decades of insane schedules, ladder climbing, bill-paying, child raising, family obligations, fast food-grabbing, sofa surfing, and more finally come to roost in your 50s.

In this photo of me above in my 50s, I don't look too unhealthy, but there was hell to pay for a sedentary desk job, twice-a-week fast food, weekend beers, and general neglect as I had always been able to do anything without feeling weak or sickly. In fact, I took on even more responsibilities including being a caregiver. 

I was actually just inside in the "obese" range of my BMI (BMI calculator link) in that photo. Yeah, I agree that BMI is not a great indicator, but I did have a belly pooch and some neck fat and arm fat. At 5'8" I can get away with extra weight visually, but not internally. 

When I had double-sided Bell's palsy, I found out I had high blood sugar and high blood pressure. It was a shocker for me, but then I had avoided doctors saying, "he will just tell me to lose weight, so I'll wait until I lose weight and see him."

unhealthy BMI and lurking disease

If you add to the combination of neglectful living, unbelievable amounts of stressful situations going on, trying to do about 8 jobs at one time while caregiving, and lack of sleep, you get even more fuel added to the 50s fire.

In the past couple months since the Bell's palsy gave me a wakeup call to inflammation in my body, I have made major significant changes to my diet and my stress levels. I had to quit my work which was not good in these economic times, but I did what I could to try and shore up support around me and even had to go to the lengths of a fundraiser to help me be able to heal my face and my body.  My weight is down 23 pounds and I am in the 'overweight" BMI now. 

I felt at first like I was sleeping all the time because I had not been still and away from the computer long enough to  nap. I was making up for long periods of exhaustion. 

And, with downtime, I was also feeling a lot of emotions surfacing for things I "didn't have time to feel about," in the past few years. 

It's like my mind, body, and soul began to realize the crazy train I'd been riding on and finally felt safe enough to release tension. 

And that tightly wound body, always tensed for the next task or emergency, had raised it's blood pressure. The rise in body volume (weight) made the BP rise, as well, which is why losing weight and having less volume can greatly improve the situation. 

(modeling weight - 119 pounds at 5'8" and size 2-4, no wonder I was nicknamed "praying mantis")

I recall at my modeling weight averaging a BP of around 87/62. I would stand up and start to faint. I had to drink lots of water and increase my volume to keep from feeling faint.

I found out that, without the igniting blood sugar rollercoaster of white bread, fast food, cookies, soda, and salty fries, I actually lost a sense of extreme hunger. That was a real surprise. 

That ride you get on where you pound in a 1100-calorie meal from McDonald's and then feel sluggish and later on feel starving, it's gone. 

My meals are small because of the Bell's palsy making chewing awkward.  I do smoothies a lot and include things like spinach, ginger root, broccoli, a few berries, and some oats.  I  try to get plenty of healthy fats with some coconut oil in my chaga mushroom tea (great antioxidant for blood pressure, blood sugar, and immune system with 31 times more antioxidants than blueberries). 

I bought a weight scale finally and actually like getting on it. I take supplements that I chose were right for my needs with the Bell's palsy including Co-Q10, B12, lysine, vitamin C, vitamin D3, and zinc. 

I continue good bowel health with Psyllium husks (I mix these with collagen and chia seeds), and drink that once a day. I think that was major life-changing for me to have normal healthy BMs and know I'm helping out my intestines for colon health as I age, while also helping build collagen for muscle/cartilage/hair/skin. 

This focus on self and health can't just include the physical. It was time for me to go back to my meditation and prayer practices daily, to be sure I move my body every day, to work on balance, muscles, and limber aspects as I age so I am not a fall risk down the line. 

Instead of my body being this vehicle that drove my brain around to get things done, I've come to realize that I am part of an energy field, tied to the energies around me, and part of a larger collective.

My energy was so out of sync with what I said I valued versus what I spent my time and efforts on. My priorities were out of whack and I was ignoring the deep screaming voice in my belly yelling, "hey, I need to be outdoors a lot more and I need to get off my chair and move about, I need to try new things, I need to get deep rest, I need to turn off the motor that runs my -nothing-can-get-done-unless-I-manage-it directive."

One of my first exercises during my down time was to make a list of all the things I'd done of my own initiative. I didn't realize that from learning to ride a bike to screenwriting, I had an amazing list of what all Sharon thought was worthy of her attempting. 

Then, I wrote a list of all the people in my life who genuinely care, are there to listen, wish me well. 

I wrote down the things that I need more of in my life - exercise, nutrition, nature, creating art, rest. 

And ultimately made a list of what weights to cast off the basket so my balloon could fly. I simplified my to-do list by more than half. 

I like to think of it this way - as my mentor and dear friend was passing from emphysema, he admonished me to grow my empire, but to also remember that the empire means nothing if you have no health to enjoy it. (God bless you, Steve Summar)

Fear is a great motivator for change, but once the fear fades, what keeps one on track? 

We often think of diet and exercise as dictates from scolding doctors, and miserable life changes we dread. It's all about the sacrifice and discipline.

But, what if you are not entering a famine of scarcity, but a banquet of health? We think of things like massages and spas as healthful retreats as luxuries. Taking care of yourself is a reward, not a punishment. 

When you are tuned back into your body's needs to move around and have healthy fuels, you really are going back to your true self. 

This other self, the salt-and-fat consuming-sedentary-self is the false self, born from anxiety, stress, and overwork. It is a false self, a created self. 

Getting back to self - come join me as I continue this series of Health Crises in Your 50s. 



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