This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.
By Laura J. Downey
I am feeling the love this week. I’m grateful for all of my friends, co-workers, and all of the WebMD social media followers who have sent me such encouraging words via email, in the comments, and in direct messages. I would not be able to move forward in such a positive direction without you! Honestly, sometimes I just want to give up and eat a big bowl of ice cream -- mind you, I’m lactose intolerant. But when you send uplifting words my way, I continue to press in.
The other day, my co-worker Beth sent me an email about one of my blog posts. It said: “Thank you for sharing! So filled with inspiration, compassion and the power of our truth. You are divine!” I couldn’t do anything but smile after reading that. It is my aim to be transparent with you at all times. Through the good and the bad, I want to be truthful. It’s not easy when I’m craving sweets, and know if I start to indulge, I’ll be goin’ down like my fellow Capricorn Mary J. Blige belted out in her 1994 cover of the Rolling Stones song.
I think it’s important that during this journey I surround myself with people who cheer me on and believe in me. There are plenty of opportunities to say something mean, but until you know someone’s personal story, you won’t know where they are coming from. Recently, a commenter on social media called me anorexic. I understand that I look thin and healthy in my photos. But I haven’t always been that way. For many years, I was overweight and not happy with myself. Then, 3 years ago, before I turned 40, I lost 23 pounds. Since then, I have been in maintenance mode. Because weight management has been a problem for me in the past, I now pay closer attention to what I put in my body. For me, this journey isn’t about weight loss as much as it is about changing my eating habits. The biggest habit that concerns me right now is my love of sweets.
My love of sweets started at an early age. I used to eat ice cream after dinner with my family, and I remember when my dad would pick up my sister and me after school, the ice cream truck would be there. I’d get giddy and my sister and I would ask him if we could have one. I would go for the strawberry shortcake bar. I have always associated ice cream with fond childhood memories of my dad, sister, and mom.
My co-worker Michelle says, “Ice cream. Is it the work of angels, or the devil?” Definitely angels when I’m eating it!
This week, I’ve been sharing food photos with my co-worker Jill. We talk about everything from what foods fill us up to how we love crunchy snacks! It’s been awesome to share with her and to be able to be a support system for one another.
My friend Andre has been supportive as well. He sent me this text message: “You are on the path. No matter what you decide to eat, the key is much more water and vegetables. If at all possible, use a couple of days where the vegetables are raw and not overcooked. Intake the most amount of nutrients possible.”
Surrounding myself with positive people is key to this journey. I talk more about this in an upcoming episode of WebMD’s podcast, Health Now. Be sure to tune in later this week.
Laura J. Downey is the executive editor of WebMD Magazine. She hopes this blog will help others see that every small step can lead to a more well-balanced, healthful, and fulfilling life. For more on her journey, follow her on Instagram @laurakadowney.