The symbolic opportunity of vaccination and my health

posted by Jeff | Monday, April 19, 2021, 11:14 PM | comments: 0

Today I was two weeks after my second Covid vaccine, which means I'm officially at full theoretical efficacy. As the running jokes go in one of my communities, it's now safe to dry-hump strangers in Florida bars, lick doorknobs party on South Beach. While I don't intend to do any of those things, it does feel kind of like a super power. You don't appreciate that as a kid, because no one is saying, "Yay, no polio or measles for you!" (Unfortunately, mumps and chicken pox were not something we were vaccinated for, so yeah, I'm that old.)

While it's not a free pass, especially given the fact that the vaccine trials aren't complete for kids, and I have one, it's still a personal milestone that I've been looking forward to for a year, and it causes me to be reflective about my own health. I don't feel physically good, in a non-specific way, but it's a familiar feeling I've had in previous years. At the end of 2019, I started to correct for it by paying better attention to what I was eating and when, and I dropped a few pounds. When the pandemic started, I successfully pushed soda out of my diet, or at least 90% of it. It wasn't until the holidays last year that I really slipped and began emotional eating, mostly crap late in the evening, and unchecked amount of carb sides with meals.

My two biggest successes with behavior modification came in the midst of divorce, and then again when I moved to Central Florida. These were both enormously symbolic times that represented new beginnings, for obvious reasons. Where I got sloppy in both cases was happy comfort, oddly enough. Things like getting married or getting used to eternal summer, as it turns out, for me feel like reasons to pile on the happy with poor eating and less activity, both of which feel good in the short term.

I'm not in some place of despair where I can't understand what I have to do. The math for eating right and relative fitness is wholly uncomplicated. Choosing to commit is the challenging part, because fuck you,, I like tater tots and sprawling out in comfort to do nothing. Those are not evil or bad things. They make me happy. They just have to share the stage with restraint and getting off the couch, which are decidedly less fun. I envy the people who get a runner's high, but I'm just not wired for it. I don't run unless something is chasing me. The only time exercise feels good is if I'm playing volleyball or tennis, and those aren't easy to make time for.

Fortunately, I don't need to be one of those people who think that others want to watch them exercise (that's a form of narcissism I'll never understand), but I do need to stick to the basics. I've learned that not eating between 7 p.m. and 11 a.m. is a rhythm I settle into easily. I live in Florida, so doing a lap around the neighborhood is possible really at almost any time. If I do those two things alone, I'm more than half way there. The rest is portion control and breaking up the day with movement. Weight comes off and I feel physically better. It's just habit.

I finally bought a standing desk, after contemplating it for years. I like it so far, probably up 40% of the time, and not all at once. What I need to get better about is blocking time, not just for physical health, but mental health. I was shuttling Simon to school the last three weeks since Diana couldn't drive, and I was surprised at how refreshed I felt just getting out for 30 to 40 minutes.

So with my new immunity, it seems like a good time for a general health reset. What I know works for me is not a heavy lift (or any lift, to use exercise parlance). The challenge is largely psychological, because this has to compete with everything else, including parenting and work. It's not always easy to prioritize me.


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