There are a few things in my life recently that have made me take a hard look at my physical health and start to make some changes.
First and foremost, I'm about to leave for Germany for a family reunion of sorts on my dad's side of the family. My aunt, his sister, turns 80 soon, and we all decided to take the trip to celebrate with her. My dad, who was born and lived in Germany until he was 26, hasn't been back to the Fatherland since he visited me when I studied there in 1990 - that's 19 years. So, my parents and my family are all traveling there together which I am very much looking forward to. In any case, my relatives there are your typically stylish Europeans, and at 38, I decided it was time to get into shape and start my quest to be age-appropriately cute so I don't look like a completely frumpy schmuck overseas.
Second, as I approach 40, there are some aspects of the way my body looks and feels that I can simply no longer tolerate. For example, I no longer wish to be slightly overweight and definitely out of shape. The muscles of my youth are almost nonexistent, and I wouldn't mind seeing a trace of them again. It's funny...I sing a lot in front of my son, because he enjoys it, and recently I taught him, "My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean." Since then, my son sings it on his own, but at 4, can't quite remember the words. I cracked up hysterically when I heard his version of the chorus, which I have since adopted as my exercise mantra:
Give back! Give back! Give back my body to me, to me!
Give back! Give back! Oh, give back my body to me!
Probably the most troubling aspect of my physical appearance is that I still have a pizza face, still struggle with acne after all of these years. I decided that I'd research and find a solution to this problem first, since, well, this is the issue about my health that, frankly, really pisses me off the most when I think about it.
After doing some online research, I discovered that adult acne can be caused by food allergies. This struck a nerve with me, because my son has food allergies. I've always blamed my husband's side of the family for his problems, because my husband's father and sister both struggle with plant and food allergies. On a whim, I decided to get myself tested at my son's allergy doctor.
Well, as it turns out, I am the source of most of my son's allergy problems! The results of my tests showed that I am allergic to a host of tree, grass, and weed pollens, dust mites, and also quite a few foods, including soy, chocolate (KILL ME NOW!), shellfish, peanuts, and tomatoes (OK, I am 25% Italian and LOVE tomatoes - I CAN NOT DEAL WITH THIS ONE). These initial results also indicate that I am probably allergic to other foods as well. Next week, I'll have my last round of food allergy testing done.
For the last few weeks, I've done my best to avoid the foods I'm allergic to, and I've noticed my skin has improved some, but, even more dramatically, my energy level has increased a lot. Furthermore, since my early 20s, I've had occasional neck and back pain and also joint pain. These problems have also improved lately. My allergy doctor says those are all common complaints from food allergy sufferers. Imagine that, I always thought my problems were due to getting a little bit older and not staying in good physical shape, but the culprit was mostly FOOD. Unbelievable.
As far as my acne goes, I paid (yet another) visit to my dermatologist and essentially told him, that's it, I've had it with acne, I want it gone. So - and, pardon my French, I don't know why the HELL he didn't do this earlier - he did some really gross test (don't read this part if you're eating right now as I just may induce your gag reflex!) in which he poked a bunch of my zits, squeezed some puss out of them, and sent the goo off to a lab to be tested. Apparently, if one suffers from acne for a long period of time, it can become resistant to the medication/topical treatment one is using. Sure enough, my acne turned out to be resistant to the prescription foam wash I had been using. So, now I am using a new topical lotion and it is working much better. I am happy to say, there has been a definite improvement in my skin and I've only been using the lotion for about 2 or 3 weeks.
All of this has taught me an important lesson. It's so important to be proactive about one's health. I always thought I was, but apparently not enough. In the past, I'd always hated running off to the doctor for something unless I was really suffering. Clearly, this is the wrong approach. I've been quite amazed at how I've been able to make some wonderful improvements in the quality of my life and health. And I'm proud of myself for taking the initial steps that have generated those results.