Eosinophilic esophagitis: Ever heard of it? Neither had I until about three years ago. It’s when inflammation of the esophagus makes it hard to swallow foods and causes extreme heartburn. And I have it.
I’ve always had problems swallowing food, and as I’ve gotten older, it’s become increasingly worse. Three years ago, I ended up in the hospital for two of the most unpleasant days of my life. I had my throat stretched. This could be something I will have to do continually, at least for the foreseeable future. I felt defeated enough to sit down and rethink my life.
I used to think that I led a generally healthy lifestyle. But as I look back, I did have a soft spot for bacon, cupcakes and alcohol. I justified all that by hitting the gym about three times a week. That balanced it all out, or so I thought.
After discovering that that lifestyle could cause complications with the aforementioned EE, I opted for change. In fact, I’d rather change my lifestyle drastically than get my throat stretched again, or land in the hospital. I reevaluated my diet and exercise regimen.
My problems with the gym were boredom and intimidation. I was too intimidated to do the weights, and staffers didn’t offer fitness classes. The membership was cheap, but the only things I found myself doing were the treadmill or the elliptical—each for about 30 minutes. I thought to myself, “How long have you been on this thing? I should be outside walking, or maybe I should get home and make dinner.” I looked for every excuse to get home before my hour was up.
So I gathered the extra cash and joined Kirkwood Fitness, which changed my life. It offers various classes throughout the week, including my two favorites: yoga and step-abs.
I was a little intimidated when I saw that Zumba was offered, but after reading our “Zoom Zoom Zumba” feature on page 24, I was excited to try it. I now exercise about six days a week for an hour. Time flies when you’re having fun.
The diet is the hard part, thanks to my EE I follow the same diet as someone who has gastroesophageal reflux disease would, which means avoiding large meals and decreasing fat intake. I also avoid chocolate, alcohol, coffee, caffeine, mint, carbonated drinks, citrus, tomato products and spice. (Heavy sigh.)
This seemed impossible at first. And I do admit with some degree of shame that after my throat was stretched the first time, I didn’t follow the diet at all. But after being told a year later that I would have to undergo the throat procedure again, I figured that was it.
I gave up drinking. I avoid all those goodies except for a few things, like green tea, and an occasional cookie. Between my diet and new exercise regimen, I’ve experienced tremendous physical and emotional changes. And I’m happy.
I’ve learned that you must embrace good health for the right reasons—not because a medical condition mandates it. Do it because you want to feel better, or look great in that swimsuit, or because you want to enjoy walks with your kids.
Celebrate you. Celebrate the fact that you have the strength to stick with a routine, and that you are stronger, healthier and happier because of it.