Making Up for Past Health Mistakes

I saw this article from Dr. Oz about “3 Ways to Make Up for Your Past Health Mistakes” and it reminded me of a topic I wanted to bring up. The post covers smoking, yo-yo dieting and sunbathing, so not exactly what I want to talk about. Usually when I bring up topics I have a story of my own experience to share and tips that worked for me. This time, I don’t have any suggestions. Maybe you guys do.

What I’m wondering is, how much damage did I do to my body weighing 250 pounds and has my body recovered from it? Is there lasting damage I may not see or feel?

When I lost my weight and kept it off, I didn’t give health concerns much thought. Losing the weight had cleared up all of my problems: body aches, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. I felt better, I felt healthier and I enjoyed doing a lot of physical activities.

What made me think about what kind of lasting damage was done to my body was a hike on the 4th of July. It was a strenuous uphill climb that challenged my fitness level and made me wonder about my knees specifically. Michael and I were hiking back down the mountain from Devil’s Rest and my knees ached a little bit. It wasn’t too bad but it reminded me of a very awful hiking trip that REALLY hurt my knees. That previous hike had my knees feeling like bone-on-bone grinding. It was absolutely awful.

This time, I took it easy as we descended and made sure I was stepping properly and not doing anything weird that could aggravate the knees. It made my heart sink a little bit. I’m 32 years old, far too young to be worried about creaking knees! Michael suggested I get an MRI to see if everything is still where it should be. I’ve yet to bring that up with my doctor and honestly don’t really want to (avoiding bad news makes it go away, right?).

The good news is that I’m not seeing my regular activities suffer from any knee discomfort. I think part of the reason I haven’t had the overuse issues that can cause knees to flair up is that I vary my workouts so much. I run, I swim, I bike, I lift weights, I use the elliptical, I do body weight exercises, I hike, etc. Having that variations gives my body a chance to rest certain muscles (thankfully). Of course that changes when it’s “training season”! But I do not have any pain in my day-to-day life, just walking around, and that’s great news.

So did weighing 250 pounds totally wreck my knees? Did losing the weight fix that? Can the body heal and repair itself from something like that?  I just don’t know. Do you wonder about your own body in this way?

What are your thoughts on the topic of recovering from past mistakes?

24 Responses

  1. There is a good chance you’ve just worn down your meniscus tissue in your knees. April 2011 I tore my meniscus tissue and it was the most painful experience I’ve ever had and it was from hiking back down a huge mountain. I do not have problems day to day, but when it comes to hiking big inclines and declines I have to skip it. Most cases of a torn meniscus can repair itself, but there are some cases that require surgery.

    1. How did you tear or wear down your meniscus?

      Thankfully I don’t feel the pain very often. In the last few years it’s only happened a few times but of course I always think about it when I hike because of those two bad experiences!!

    1. Do you do anything special for your knees to either protect them or make them stronger?

      I have heard that too about weight loss. It is very disheartening, honestly. Someday I want to have kids and I hope it’s not impossible to lose the weight!!

  2. I have often wondered the same thing, especially with my recent mole issues. I really wish I could go back and lay out in the sun less and use more sunscreen.

    As for knees, I often have the same thought of why are my knees achy, Im still young. I think the variety is the best solution. Another thing I do is I always take advantage of modifications in high intensity and weight classes

    1. Thanks for the comment, Sarah, you said exactly what I was thinking on both counts. I, too, wish I could go back to my childhood and fanatically use sunscreen. Especially since I’m so fair. And for the knees, I thought I was doing enough of a variety with my workouts, maybe not.

  3. You don’t need an MRI to see how your knees are doing. An orthopedic doctor will do simple X-rays
    to see what is going on. They can advise you what to do to keep them
    healthy. I would have them checked out so you keep them healthy.
    You have done such a great job of keeping your weight off. Thanks
    for the inspiration.

  4. First off – Wow! You’re incredibly young! I can’t imagine at your age not being able to fully recover from once weighing 250lbs for part of your adult years and slimming down to your current weight. That said, someone very close to me has unfortunately become a cautionary tale. He was always slim as a child and when he was 22 years old was 6 ft 4 inches tall and weighed 210 pounds with a lean athletic build. A few short years down the road and he had eaten himself into a 400+ pound behemoth that was into total denile about his weight and his health.

    Last January he spent a week in the hospital. He came out with the diagnosis of congestive heart disease. The cardiologist told him his heart is basically worn out from pumping blood all those years to support all the extra blood vessels and connective tissue. His prognosis was my brother had 1 day to 5 years left to live, but it was up to him to take his health seriously. His knees are shot, but he’s 52 years old and has been carrying an extra 200 pounds of excess body weight for nearly 30 years. So far this year he has lost 50 pounds, and intends to lose 150 more. His daughter moved her wedding date up to July so her father could be at her wedding. He’s too young to retire from his job without taking a huge financial loss but says he can retire with full benefits at age 56. I just worry he won’t see his retirement date.

    So…can the body repair itself and can we recover from past mistakes? YES – if you don’t wait until it’s too late. It’s like don’t wait until you have stage 4 lung cancer to decide to quit smoking. Is congestive heart disease reversible? I don’t know. I hope so.
    Marc recently posted..Physical Friday – running August 3, 2012

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Marc. I am sorry to hear about your brother. It really is scary to get a life-threatening diagnosis and that’s what wakes you up to health changes. My coworker who passed away last year had been morbidly obese for a long time and tried to lose weight but it never really last longer than a week or two. It makes me sad when these things happen. I truly hope your brother loses the weight and his heart stays strong.

      I agree with you–if you change your behaviors early enough, you can heal. I am really happy that I didn’t wait too long to lose my weight.

  5. I’ve been wondering the same thing regarding my right foot lately. Some days it’s fine and some days it’s really achy, like I’ve got a cramp in it. I know that having the extra weight isn’t helping, but I’m trying to take care of that. I did tear ligaments in that ankle many years ago, so I think it’s just extra wonky. I’ve been to the GP here and seen a physio who told me that there was nothing much to do, other than exercises to strengthen it. I hope that as the weight comes off it will feel better, but I do worry I’ve done permanent damage. I only wish I had enough smarts to have kept it off in the first place.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your foot! I’ve been there…Every once in awhile I get weird foot cramps and I convince myself I have a stress fracture or something (don’t even get me started on my hypochondria). Have you gotten new shoes lately? Or been fitted at a running store for the right kind of shoes? That can often contribute to foot pain. I always know when it’s time to get new shoes because my feet ankles and knees start to hurt when I run.

  6. Losing weight certainly helps knees, but the damage that might have been done will still be there. With the weight loss, you have just slowed the progression. You could try taking some glucosamine chondroitin for the joints. My ortho docs recommend that.

    I always wonder what I did to my body in general. What toll did I take on my heart over all those years? It’s scary and you never really know.
    Lori recently posted..Things That Must Stop

    1. I’ve wondered if some of the other “big losers” have felt the way I felt…wondering about joints and heart disease damage due to years of obesity. Glad I’m not alone. I will check out those vitamins, too.

  7. I’m not sure either, but I suspect that Lori may be on the right track. You definitely did a great thing by losing all that weight, but if the damage is done I’m not sure if it can be reversed.

    There are some people whose knees degenerate not due to age but due to physical conditions or a predisposition. I’ve met several young, thin people who have had to have knee surgery. Don’t beat yourself up Lisa!
    Diane, fit to the finish recently posted..Do You Include These In Your Diet?

  8. Based on my personal experience, yes you can recover from health mistakes if you correct the mistake soon enough. I started smoking at 17 and stopped right before I turned 30. To think back how I felt then, I couldn’t breath but didn’t know it. I also lost about 50 lbs at the same time, but have put that and more back on. The thing is that my breathing is so much better and had I continued to smoke another 12 years I would have been in much worse shape health wise.
    About the knees – I had a torn miniscus and had it repaired through surgery. It helped. After 20 years and carrying around extra weight, I find that knee is creaky after I use it a lot and I prefer not climbing stairs. I am going to try the glucosamine chondroitin before going to see anyone about it.

    1. Good for you! Glad you stopped smoking and noticed an improvement in your health. Do you think your lungs are entirely healed? Or do you still have residual things going on?

  9. I read this post earlier in the week and am finally able to comment since it’s so hard to comment on the phone where I read a lot now. Anyway – I think things from our past can still affect us. I’m not sure about the knee situation but it does make sense. I believe my thyroid issues stem from my binge eating and yo yo eating. I guess all we can do is focus on moving forward, though, huh? Thank goodness we wisened up sooner rather than later too!
    Tina @ Best Body Fitness recently posted..Which Would You Choose?

    1. Thanks for your input, Tina. I think you are right–thank goodness we turned it all around! For me, I lost my weight in my mid-20’s so hopefully that’s still young enough that the body has healed itself. I’m sure yo-yo dieting has effected your body but you seem really healthy now, so maybe it didn’t do as much damage as it could have?

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