I don’t really think of myself as a healthcare writer, although I did earn a living for many years by marketing a variety of healthcare services—from traditional to alternative medicine. These days, I’m more in the Author-Speaker-Publisher mode, writing books and articles on all sorts of subjects.

But my history with healthcare writing and my own history with personal care seems to have made me circle back to the subject at various times. Glancing through this blog, I see I wrote an article in 2018 on the benefits of meditation and exercise; another in 2019 on the role running plays in many writers’ lives, including my own; and last year, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, an article on self-care for creatives, encompassing exercise, proper nutrition, and even affirmations. Talk about a potpourri of healthcare interests!

 

Gotta Walk Before You Can Run

As we lurch into 2021, I find myself again reflecting on my own, somewhat difficult history with self-care. I still recall how panic-stricken I felt back in 1989 when, newly-sober, I realized how out of shape I actually was.  Just 24, I’d been smoking for years, and my pack-a-day habit doubled in my first year of sobriety. I was chronically winded.

My eating habits were nearly as bad as my lack of exercise, namely because I ate whatever I felt like. Pizza and beer followed by some Ben & Jerry’s was a perfectly acceptable meal to me right up until February of 1989.

When I first went out to exercise, it was walking only—power-walking, actually.

Well, something about being a man power-walking alone down a country road seemed intolerably nerdy. I felt I looked foolish, and somehow I wanted more. But beyond that, I just felt like I could go faster than even my fastest walking pace. So I tried to run.

My initial attempts at running were about as tentative as many writers’ first forays into creating text. First I’d walk, run a short distance, then go back to walking. It was exhilarating, even scary. Yet I could do it. Those tiny bursts of running eventually turned longer, and I took bona fide runs. Eventually, I even started doing 5K races with large groups.

 

…And Back to Walking Again

Unfortunately for me, a series of car accidents—I was rear-ended by four different careless drivers between 2002 and 2013—left me with a fair amount of chronic neck and back pain. Combine that with flat feet that require custom orthotics and you’ve got a recipe for a kinder, gentler version of exercise.

So these days, I’m taking some long walks around my neighborhood. And, at 56, I remain in pretty darn good shape (“for my age,” as they say). Annual physical exams reveal all the vitals to be normal. And, in spite of the fact that I still love ice cream, I suspect that my decades-long vegetarianism has helped keep my cholesterol numbers in an excellent range. My LDL level is always pleasantly low, while my HDL level is remarkably high.

And the key to all this is the old adage about a healthy mind and a healthy body. I have to get out there and exercise, eat right, and get enough good sleep so I can function at a high level when I work. When I do these things, I feel pretty good; when I don’t, I don’t. It’s as simple as that. Not easy, but simple.

What about you? Any health tips or experiences you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

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