Friday, April 23, 2010

How is Angel Abcede healthy?

The biggest mistake I could choose is to mentally rake myself over the coals every time I take a misstep.

Staying healthy for me is definitely a battle between my virtues and vices. Among my virtues is a lifelong interest in dance (I toured internationally with the Chicago-based Joel Hall Dancers for 18 years), which makes exercising for me a joy; a tendency to not overeat when I get busy; and a longtime partner who I know will support me in all my adventures.

My vices are that I love to party, love to drink, love to indulge.

That said, my story is one of extremes. When I’m focused in training, performance or executing a project, I’m very productive. I’m often at my peak health-wise in that I tend to eat smaller portions and foods that are better for me. When between projects, I do tend to party more and indulge.

As I mention my relationship, I have to note a milestone. My partner Bob and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary year. And as a tribute to the AIDS-awareness not-for-profit I started 18 years ago, we’re having a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and straight, all-inclusive Anniversary Ball as our 2010 fundraising event. We're inviting the GLBT community to celebrate relationships and recognize our ability to create legitimate families. It’ll be May 7 at 6:30 (premium package), Hotel Allegro, 171 W. Randolph in Chicago. Visit our blog for photos of attending couples, basic info and a PayPal option to purchase tickets.

My relationship, though an open one, affords me an emotional center and tempers the extremes that I gravitate to. Bob gives me confidence and a foundation for me to take professional and artistic risks. And he energizes my life with his own upbeat personality.

But of course, the concern of HIV infection with an open relationship is evident. We trust each other to reduce risk but know to that 100% is a lofty goal for any person. Here’s how I take on the challenge:

1. I keep a daily grid where I give myself 10 points for exercising in the morning, another 10 for taking a dance class and another 10 for practicing for my voice lessons (musical theater stuff). I discount 10 for every $10 I spend partying and deduct 50 points for every “mistake” (you fill in the blank). But I also give myself 50 points for every time I avoid a bad situation by taking a cab or a bus or for going home early. If you try it, after a few weeks, you see how much you spend on drinks and grief and how much you really do work at the positive stuff.

2. I forgive myself. The biggest mistake I could choose is to mentally rake myself over the coals every time I take a misstep. It’s paralyzing and counterproductive. Self-forgiveness is truly freeing, and lets me immediately refocus and get back on track.

Using these tools, I march forward. Over the past several months, I’ve reviewed my goals and find myself building yet another interesting chapter in my life. My dynamic personality is both joyous and dangerous. I know that. But taking active steps to encourage healthy behavior is my secret weapon, an available option I don’t take for granted. I hope no one thinks being healthy just happens. Like a long-term relationship, it takes work and an active, premeditated strategy.

-- Angel Abcede

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