Last week was a hard one for a number of reasons. I had a few concerns about my health lately, so I went to the doctor for a physical and to ask about what’s going on. My right knee has been bothering me too much to run, it was time for my asthma to be checked up on, and according to 23andme.com, chances are I had a G6PD deficiency.
My doctor was able to tell me what to do with the knee (heat, plus stretching, then ice) and recommended lower impact forms of cardio — ellipticals, biking and swimming. I’m not sure if running is out of the question, but I’m going to try the prescribed methods for stretching out my quads and head to the gym with Ryan for a few leg muscle-building routines to see if that helps.
I also took a blood test for my G6PD deficiency, and that was confirmed. For those of you who don’t know (and that’s just about everyone — I never heard of it until I was told I was likely to have it), G6PD is an enzyme(?) that helps make new red blood cells and scrubs the blood of oxidants, making sure you have enough. Some folks, especially those with ancestry in Africa and the Mediterranean, don’t have enough of this. Eating certain foods and taking certain medicines can cause anemic episodes, which in turn cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and other general unpleasantness. In extreme cases, it can be fatal.
Then I went to my allergist to take my vitals and discovered that my asthma has worsened — which explains why it’s so hard to run and I tend to get winded easily. I’m not the smartest guy in the room when it comes to listening to my body. I was put back on a maintenance inhaler (I had voluntarily stopped taking it several months ago) twice a day, and told that my rescue inhaler should be used more often before exercise. My allergist, this awesome little old Indian lady, dressed me down for not taking care of myself and not losing weight. I love her, and she’s right, but on top of all the other news…
I’ve known for a long time that I could be taking better care of myself. I should be eating better foods, exercising more consistently, flossing more, that sort of thing. But you know, there’s always something else you want to do at the end of the day — you don’t want to eat baby carrots when there are doughnuts at work, and you just want to crawl into bed instead of spending those extra few minutes flossing. There’s always a reason not to do the right thing.
For me, it’s just a matter of running out of mental stamina. I only have so much willpower to spread around. During difficult workdays, most of it goes to that. Then really putting in an effort to hit the gym takes what’s left. There are a lot of times where I simply don’t have anything left in the tank when it’s time to sit down and write, or take my medicine, or floss.
So things go slipping through the cracks. The habit I promised myself I would form starts to get skipped more and more, and then cut out altogether. Then I’ll go to the doctor’s office, see the effects of what I’m doing, promise myself to be better, and the cycle starts all over again.
Only, the cycle can’t keep repeating this way. I’m getting to the point where quality of life is going to be a real issue if I don’t shape up soon. The medical issues that are starting to pop up with more consistency, the relentless march of time, and my own failing stores of willpower are all weighing heavily on me. Why is it so hard to knuckle down and do what you know is right? Why am I so hard-wired to always pick the path of instant gratification?
I’m not asking these questions to beat myself up; I think they’re legitimate in determining just how I learn to move forward with a better plan to do all of the things I need to. My knee won’t get better without stretching, which means I won’t be able to run. If I don’t take my asthma medication as often as I should, it’ll be very difficult to breathe when I exert myself, which means I won’t be able to run far. If I don’t eat better and cut the weight, then there’s a whole host of issues that’ll stem from that — it’s harder to manage G6PD, no matter the severity, etc. etc.
In short, it’s time to stop fucking around. I’m not getting any younger. If I want to write, then I need to write. If I want to eat better, then I need to eat better. If I want to exercise more, then I need to exercise more. These are priorities that need to supercede everything else. The time for excuses is coming to an end.
The thing that I’m learning as I move through life is that it’s all in the doing. Really. That’s it. Productivity systems are a distraction, another form of procrastination. Thinking about the ideas behind actions is only useful if they push you to take better actions; if you get stuck in a theoretical loop and become too paralyzed to do anything, that’s no good. Action is the goal. If whatever you’re doing doesn’t make you act better, than you’re wasting your time.
Now that I’m coming out of this mild depression, I think I have to figure out how to conserve my willpower towards the things that take priority. My health and writing are going to be my biggest focuses closing out the year. My life will be organized around those, and we’ll see how far I get with that by December.