I had issues with my body image. I grew up skinny, but I wasn't athletic. When I got older, I gained weight, but I looked like that I had an average build. I learned later there is a term for this. I was "skinny fat." Skinny fat is someone who has a weight and BMI that is normal for that person’s height, but has much more body fat and not enough muscle mass recommended for optimal health.
It never bothered me until I was officially "overweight" and people would point out the extra weight I gained over the years. I noticed my clothes didn't fit like before and I didn't like how I looked or felt. I also felt like a fraud promoting health and wellness with the body I had. I hired a trainer learned to count calories, macros, and work out. It worked I lost my weight in a short time and I was ready to take things to the next level.
Life happened. We moved to another state. Business got busier with travel. There were several personal tragedies. I went back to unconscious eating, eating based on emotion, eating based on convenience, and indulging on every meal as if every meal was my last. I certainly ignored the signals in my body that told me I was full, and ate even when i wasn't hungry. I was back where I started from. This lifestyle also affected Cassy. I had a wakeup call when she told me that she had issues with her body image. It made me a little sad when she shared how she viewed her self. She is beautiful, but she didn't feel beautiful. There was nothing I could say or do to change that. I understood because I felt the same way. There are standards in society that we compare ourselves too. There are standards we hold ourself to especially in the health and wellness profession.
On Christmas, I surprised Cassy with a "smart" scale and measuring tape (Don't worry this was not my main present) At first, she didn't like the idea. The last time we weighed ourself was in our doctor checkup in 2019. We had scales in the house, but this scale was different. It was extremely accurate (The other scales were inconsistent) and sent measurements to the phone effortlessly. It has bio-impedance to analyze other measurements. The app helped record and track the measurements. I also had tape measure and fat calipers because weight by itself is not a good indicator of fitness progress.
I explained that I was committed to do whatever it takes to help support her reach her health and fitness goals and that I too will go on the journey with her. I'd be tracking my progress every day. I'd figure we start a week early instead of January 1st because they say people who start their resolution on January 1st tend to not reach them. There was no reason to delay.
Our goal was to lose weight but it goes much deeper than that. For me, I want to make sure I have great cardiovascular health. All my life, my grandmother lightheartedly joked that everyone had high blood pressure. Relatives would often joke that the delicious salty filipino food cause high blood pressure. "It must be the bagoong" (fermented shrimp paste). It was one of those facts of life.
I believed that "High blood pressure was inevitable and our fate and we may well enjoy life (and food)" or "I'll address it, if it ever becomes a problem." The problem with with that kind of thinking is that it's not whether or not a person develops cardiovascular disease, it's a matter of when.
Over time, I saw many family members and friends have health complications, end up in the hospital, or complain about how it's affected their life or how they don't like how the medication makes them feel. It's not just a Filipino thing. I witnessed and met many people from many different backgrounds with challenges with cardiovascular health. After all, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
My goal wasn't only to lose weight, but to improve my nutrition and cardiovascular health through daily movement. I don't have high blood pressure, but I noticed my C-reactive protein in 2019 showed that my heart had some inflammation. I am not diabetic or even pre-diabetic, but I played close attention to my A1C and notice that if I don't change now, I could easily head that direction. Any doctor would say that I'm healthy because there is no presence of disease, but I knew different. My numbers told a different story. I knew that people don't sleep one day healthy and wake up the next day with a lifestyle disease. It gradually happens over time.
I've worked with hundreds of people who share stories and cautioned me to take care of my body while I'm young. Some have confided with me that they wish they did. So I decided that my goal was to improve my flexibility, cardiovascular health, and strength. This would not only help prevent lifestyle disease, it would help improve my mental health, reduce chance chance of pain and injury, and help me enjoy life as I get older. This was my personal why, but it wasn't the primary why both Cassy and I share.
Our why is that we want to have children.
Any one that knows Cassy knows that she loves children. It's one of the reasons she became a preschool teacher before she became a wellness advocate. We actually planned on having children right away. It didn't happen and we didn't worry as we believe that everything happens in God's timing. Once we thought she was pregnant because she missed her period. She took a pregnancy test and it was negative. She wasn't getting her period and we went to see a doctor. The doctor said that there is a high chance that Cassy has PCOS (post-cystic ovarian syndrome) which modern medicine tells us there is no cure. The doctor also advised Cassy to manage her weight and offered birth control to regulate hormones and may start menstrual cycles. At the time we prayed about it and decided not use birth control and to go a natural route (more rest, reduce stress, use essential oils). At first we worried, because she didn't have her period for months. Then her period came back again. I think we were in denial of the diagnosis because the doctor said there is a high chance. We just took interpreted that Cassy may not have it, but as the years progressed some symptoms remained: hirsutism, acne, and irregular periods. One of the symptoms of PCOS is infertility. Some of the symptoms have gotten better over the years. Settling down in one place and not traveling has really given us the time to focus on our health.
We considered adoption, but we haven't given up hope for pregnancy. We decided to go all out and do our best to get our bodies to it's best shape. We also plan on visiting the Prime Meridian Health Clinic in Utah for more advice. Part of the mission isn't just about ourselves. We found out 1 in 10 couples have trouble conceiving and it is estimated that at least 5% or 10% (Some say 20%) of women have PCOS. If we find a solution that works for us, maybe we can help others. Up until now, we've been pretty private about it. When we found out how prevalent it was, we decided to be more open because there are millions of couples just like us.
We know the pain we feel when people ask us when we are having children or simply assume that we don't want children or aren't trying or the people who try to be helpful that don't understand what PCOS is. We truly believe that there is a reason for everything and that we can support others that are going through similar experiences.
I've read a lot of people's experience with PCOS on the subreddit r/pcos and amazon reviews of supplements like myo-inositol. A lot of people are sharing what they are doing to help manage symptoms and improve fertility. According to Western Medicine, there is no cure. While that may be discouraging, I am reminded of the God we serve and that He is Jehovah Rapha which means "The Lord is my Healer." Matthew 19:26 states that "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” So we pray that God helps us. While we know that God performs miracles, there are times we must do our part. For example, if we pray for financial success, we still have to work. Likewise, if we pray for physical wellbeing, we must take care of our bodies, our temple that is a gift to us.
So we decided to take a health challenge for 2021, not just to improve our self-esteem or to feel good but really get our physical health back in order. I find that it's always important to start with a "Why?" If your why is strong enough, you will figure out a how. It's important to have purpose. Times will get hard and sometimes we feel like quitting. With purpose, we will remember why we started. I encourage everyone before they embark on a health journey, to write down their "Why?", their dream. What would your life look like if you accomplished your goal? What would your life look like if you didn't? Would the pain of not achieving your goal exceed the pain it takes to achieve it? Would the satisfaction of achieving the goal be worth all the hard work and sacrifice. Long term success with long lasting results will take hard work, dedication, and sacrifice.
What is your why?