My Journey to Healthy
Long story short, I’ve always been generally healthy. I’ve enjoyed eating salads and fresh fruits and vegetables my whole life, but also loved the occasional cheeze-it or sour gummy worm. I felt like I had a good balance of healthy/not-so-healthy and it kinda worked for me, or I thought it did. But for the most part, I was content.
When I started graduate school while I was still teaching kindergarten full time, I slowly drifted into the “I don’t have time to do anything” mindset without even realizing. I stopped taking the time to plan healthy meals and the gummy worm/cheeze-it diet took over. I stopped posting to my food blog. I lost all motivation to go to the gym. In an attempt to put something good into my body, I’d eat low calorie salads and shakes for lunch, then come home and literally crash on the couch while snacking on everything in sight, reaching only about 1200 calories on some days (which by the way was absolutely TERRIBLE for my body at that point). My stomach was an absolute mess on a daily basis, so much that feeling bloated after eating was just something I learned to expect. I wasn’t at the weight I wanted to be at. My skin was in the worst condition it had ever been in. I could feel my immune system weakening each day; I was constantly sick and fatigued, and my emotional health was just as bad. I was experiencing things in my personal life that left me unhappy, stressed, and feeling out of control. I didn’t even have the energy to hang out with close friends.
(Ok, here’s where I cut the story short.)
It was really difficult for me to break this cycle. To be honest, I wasn’t happy with the changes in my body, but I figured that was just what getting older was all about. I brushed off things like being tired every morning because I assumed it was normal. I tried so many different things to motivate myself to make changes, but they all just came and went, and I eventually accepted that this was how life goes.
I’m telling you all of this because i was so wrong.
I finally found the things that DO work and I feel like I've made a complete 180. The best part is that I don’t feel like I’m doing another quick fix. The lifestyle changes I’ve made are long-term and sustainable, which is why they have given me REAL results. When I look back now, I can clearly see why the crash diets and detoxes weren’t working.
I was expecting long term results from short term fixes.
Sure, drinking lemon water and salads all day might help you lose weight fast, but does it actually make you healthy? fit? glowing? There’s plenty of quick fixes out there: the 7 day detox, 14-day slim down, ketogenic diet... These diets might make you feel ready for something, but they provide no long term benefits, not to mention the harm that fluctuating weight can do to your body.
There’s always gonna be something you’re getting ready for.
The lifestyle changes I've made are permanent and will last me forever. I never need to stress about getting ready for something again because I’m healthy all the time. I’m already “ready”.
Another great part of this lifestyle is that I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself (which I’ve totally experienced in the past). I actually crave the foods I eat and don’t miss the foods that I no longer eat. I think the biggest reason for this is because I have more knowledge now on what it actually means to be healthy than I did in the past. If you told me three years ago to stop eating dairy, I would have looked at you like you were absolutely insane. Now, there’s not one moment in a day that I even think about eating dairy. I don’t crave it at all and realized I’m actually not missing out on anything by not eating it. In fact, I’m healthier than I ever have been because of it, my skin is the clearest it’s ever been, I’m never bloated, my confidence is high, and I look and feel great. If that’s not enough motivation to continue this lifestyle then I don’t know what is.
Knowledge really is power.
There’s so much more to being healthy than swapping a lean cuisine for a salad at lunch. (But yes, it’s a start.) There’s more to it, though. When you start to understand the big picture of health, making permanent changes to your lifestyle comes with ease. It’s not just about looking your best - that’s just an added benefit. What being healthy really is about is self love and self respect. It’s about putting things in your body that benefit your body, mind, and heart. It’s about having more energy, better physical health, and nourishing your brain so it releases more neurons to improve your emotional health. The older we get, the healthier we should be getting - not the other way around. The typical aging process in America consists of increased skin problems, weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, among a million other things. It took a lot of reading for me to understand that this is not how life has to be. We’ve become so used to our bodies shutting down the older we get that it’s become normal, when it’s actually nothing but normal. The foods you put into your body now will greatly benefit your body in the future. Your body is like your retirement savings account. Everyone tells you to start saving early, but if you push it off until your late 30s, it eventually becomes more difficult to save. Make it a habit to put things in your body that will only benefit you now and in the future. Just because you’ve been doing something for a long time doesn’t mean you can’t change.
So what is the secret?
If you want to lose weight, eat healthy.
If you want to feel better, eat healthy.
If you want more energy, eat healthy.
If you want better skin and hair, eat healthy.
It’s that simple.
So what is ‘healthy’? It’s being mindful of what you’re putting in your body. Before you eat anything, stop and think, “is this going to benefit my body?” If it’s not, it’s not something you should be eating. There are so many food options that are packed with health benefits that you literally don’t need any other foods. Yes, a candy bar might satisfy your craving, but it does nothing for your body or mind. Only eat real, whole foods. If it’s processed, it’s likely full of toxins and preservatives. This is when it’s really important to stop and think what am I putting in my body? Take pretzels for example. They don’t seem that bad, some might even be low in calories and carbs, but they actually don’t do anything to benefit your body. They’re empty calories. On the hand, some people think sweet potato fries might be not-so-great either. Yea, they have carbs and some oil, but they are made from a whole food, which is high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and many other vitamins and minerals that nourish your body. When you start to consider what the food you eat can do for you, it makes making healthy choices very simple. Stick to foods that benefit your body.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned through this whole process is that you can’t just be generally healthy and expect real results. You have to commit to healthy. It has to be part of the life you live, not something that comes and goes with the seasons.
There’s so much more to this topic than I can put in this blog post so I plan to start posting more on nutrition and what exactly it is I eat. This book and this book truly changed the way I think about food and I highly recommend them if you are considering making this lifestyle shift. If you want something in particular addressed on my blog, leave it in the comments and I will cover it!