It’s time to finally wrap up my lessons learned from vacation with the final part of this blog trilogy. (Then, I can jump into some quick posts with food tips, podcast reviews, and other fun things I’ve been wanting to write about.) As you may recall, the last takeaway I had from back-to-back travels was to be more mindful and grateful of what I can do and what I can have, rather than focusing on the negatives of what I can’t do and what I can’t have.
Grateful for this sunset boat ride.
We all face challenges in life and it can be easy to fall into the woe-is-me mindset, but just as misery loves company, there is power in positivity. We all have things we can dwell on and feel bad about, but we all also have things we can appreciate and be thankful for. When you focus on being grateful, you have the power to improve your health, relationships, and better handle stress and adversity.
In his book How to Make Disease Disappear, Rangan Chatterjee talks about the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. Before going to bed each night, he suggests writing down all the things that went well in your day and all the things you are grateful for. It is a technique he learned from Charles R. Poliquin, one of the world’s top strength coaches for elite athletes. This simple technique leads to better sleep by giving you the power to change your negative thoughts or energy just by taking the time to feel grateful. The positive effects are even extended into the next day as you find yourself focusing on the good things about your day so you can write them in your journal later that night. It might sound silly or simple, but there is beauty in simplicity and it works.
I know one major thing I’m grateful for every night is that my Crohn’s Disease continues to remain in remission–even while being off medications. Whether it’s a little bit of luck, the myriad of lifestyle choices I make in regards to my diet and health, or a combination of both…the fact is, I’m one of the rare ones to have had Crohn’s Disease for more than 10 years and not undergone any surgery. For that I’m grateful and I’ll keep doing what I’m doing (and writing it down!) to see if eventually some of this will actually make sense! 🙂 I know Crohn’s is still there–lurking in the shadows–because every time I think I’m doing well it takes the opportunity to remind me it’s still there. Unfortunately, I’m not one of the rare ones to have had a single flare up only to remain in remission for the rest of my life–so instead, I’m looking for ways to manage it.
So even though I was up to my eyeballs in stress by the time we left for our Hawaiian wedding/vacation in late April (because I allowed myself to worry endlessly about my dress, my hair, whether I was gaining three pounds before the trip, and anything else that needed worrying about…), a little reflection on the return trip home allowed me to realize and appreciate the fact that I just spent 10 days on an island, away from my staple foods, without suffering any Crohn’s symptoms. Let me say that again to reemphasize what a big deal this is, I didn’t have any Crohn’s symptoms during an entire 10-day trip while still eating a lot of food and enjoying my wine.
So, yes I have Crohn’s Disease and I’ve put myself on what many would consider a very restrictive or extreme diet. I can’t eat my old bodybuilding foods that would probably allow me to lose the 3-5 pounds I seem to be perpetually fighting, I can’t enjoy dessert (or even a salad, as strange as that might sound) without doubling over in pain, I can’t stop myself from stressing about and identifying the locations of all public restrooms while I’m out, and I could probably go on and on about the things I can’t do or can’t eat. But, I have the power to flip that and focus on what I can do.
I can go on a 10-day vacation without packing two ice chests full of food, I can go through the entire day without pain or even discomfort by following my carnivore diet, I can keep my body strong and flexible by enjoying my quick and effective morning workouts, I can enjoy a glass of wine with good friends, I can eat ribeye every day and not feel guilty, I can continue to experiment with ways to further improve my level of health, and–again–I could go on and on. But, I won’t bore you with that, I’ll save it for my gratitude journal 😉
You’ve heard it all before, but this time, really let it sink in.
Appreciate what you can do and what you have.
Appreciate and see the beauty in yourself and in your reflection.
And most importantly, be grateful.
Grateful for my Jeff.