I’m a lot healthier in a very simple set of ways than I was at the start of 2013.
At the start of 2013 I was well into my fourth year of PhD with only funding for three years, and I was doing what I always did, which was drink and struggle with a coffee addiction. My coffee intake would go from zero to a cup a day in the mornings to one in the morning, one in the afternoon (plus one if I’m meeting my supervisor)… all the way back up to seven cups a day, at which point I would realise I had a problem again and cut back down to zero. This wasn’t gourmet coffee, either – this was the foul brown liquid that tasted more like bleach than coffee that the Cambridge maths department sells. In August I finally cut it out permanently: I can have it on holiday or for a big deadline, but never again regularly.
Walking to the pub we would always split into two groups, as well – the orienteers and athletes marching in front, and the rest of us behind. This began to bother me when I realised that everyone else in the behind group was at least playing squash with one another occasionally, and that I was quite unfit. This bothered me, so I started doing the NHS C25k, the running podcast. I had always had asthma and a weak heart valve and been convinced that I couldn’t exercise; last January it was a struggle for me to run for 3 minutes straight. Today I ran for 47 minutes at an easy pace, and could have run further. I also ran a comparable distance on Saturday.
Drinking… after all of the stress of last year, I needed to unwind, and drinking was my method of choice. After trying that for a while I was a complete jerk to a dear friend whilst drunk, and realised I needed to spend some time sober. I’ve been dry for just under three months, and I’ve sworn to stay dry until this August – by far and away the longest stretch of time since I turned 18.
I noticed when I started running that I started drinking less without trying to. Now I’ve stopped drinking I’ve noticed I’ve started exercising more without trying to: I’ve really internalised a much healthier way to ease stress. I’m proud of that.
So currently I’m a vegetarian, non-drinking, non-smoking, non-caffeine drinking woman who feels effective in a way she’s not felt in a very long time. I tried a yoga class last Tuesday to see if I could be any more stereotypically clean: it was nice, and I’ll go again this week.