It’s Monday again.. back at it after a long weekend! This weekend I headed back to the college where I did my undergrad. It was our homecoming, so that meant a lot of people, a lot of partying, food, and everything else that comes along with tailgating. It’s great to be able to come back as an alum and enjoy huge football games on my college’s beautiful campus!
My younger sister also came with me to visit her own friends, and the day was a little different for her. She’s been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease (about 2 years ago, but she’s suffered with pain for a long time), so she experiences the world in a different way, and I’ll explain why.
I went to a big 10 school (I think my school has around 47,000 students) so you can imagine what the tailgates are like- a lot of students and alumni having a really good time.. sometimes a little too much! I’ve never been one to drink as much as many of these students, so even I have looked at them and rolled my eyes. But for my sister, it’s different to see that. My sister struggles every day for health. She does everything she can to keep her symptoms down, tries to eat the best food for her body, lifts weights to strengthen her body and does cardio exercise to keep her heart healthy. She does what she can, and sometimes it’s just not enough. When you have an illness, you can’t always control what’s going on inside of you.
So cue the drunk Jersey-shore style antics of college students. From the eyes of someone who is fighting for her health, it’s hard to see young people treating their “engines” poorly with what seems like zero consequences. She told me last night, “It’s not that I want them to have consequences for their actions, it just doesn’t seem fair that I do everything I can to be healthy, and those people still have healthier bodies than I do.”
If you have an intestinal disease like my sister, have been diagnosed with an illness, or even feel jealous that people you know can live unhealthy lifestyles and seem to suffer no consequences, maybe you feel like this, too. I know for those of us who don’t have an illness, we get jealous when we see our thin friends eat poorly and still remain smaller than us. We’re eating healthy and they aren’t! Shouldn’t they have some kind of consequence (aka love handles .. ;) ) ? And shouldn’t we be rewarded for eating healthy and exercising?
The problem is that so many of us only see the “consequence” of unhealthy eating as weight gain. I’ll tell you right now.. people with unhealthy habits are NOT getting off without any consequences. Sure, you may be heavier than your friend, you may try to drink less than most of your peers, you can’t go out to eat ice cream on a whim, or maybe you have to be that way because your body truly can’t handle it. But that doesn’t mean those people have health.
When my sister feels pain or goes into a period of bad symptoms, she can feel totally defeated. She thinks, “Why even try? Why do I go out of my way to be healthy when it seems like it doesn’t even make a difference in the end?”
Well, it does make a difference. She has a “car” with a small mechanical problem that she can’t fix, but she’s doing everything she can to make sure the car is running well. Those who abuse their health have cars that work great, but they’re quickly running them into the ground and you can guarantee they’ll be faced with some big problems that require more than just a little tune-up.
So stay healthy, even when you feel like it doesn’t make a difference. That’s the thing about health… everyone thinks they can keep up their unhealthy habits until they’re forced to change, which for many doesn’t happen until their 50’s or 60’s (diabetes, heart attacks etc).
Care about your health now. Sure you can eat 200 calories of oreos and still lose weight if you’re in a calorie deficit at the end of the day. But does that habit promote health?
It’s been a good experience for me to see health through my sister’s eyes. It encourages me to keep up my own healthy habits.. not so I can look a certain way, but to realize how badly others want health who don’t have it. How sad is that?
How often do you look in the mirror and curse your body for the way it looks?
Sometimes we can’t see past the “flaws” of our physical body to see the beauty of the machine that’s working so flawlessly inside.