Waking up with the ability to smile immediately, feeling grateful to life for breathing, and eager to use your body to experience and appreciate every ray of light, doesn’t always come easy. There are many factors affecting our moods and state of mind or physical state. But if we focus on the most important thing that will make us function well, and give us the most significant daily pleasures: our food, it’s likely that the quality of life we live, will improve each day.
This time I chose to write about food and diet choices, because I see too many people breaking before they should. I also see many others taking that step to better themselves with little or no support. The journey to change habits is never easy. No matter what habit it is. But if you decide to take that journey, the one that involves giving up unhealthy eating choices, to better your body and the way you feel about yourself, others and life in general, here I share with you some of the things you should do or understand to make it through. Be brave, and remember that yes, our bodies should be our most important masterpieces, no matter what others believe.
Food is the key. Yes! It sounds simple. It is, and it isn’t. The relationship most of us have with food is not exactly healthy or a positive one, until we really learn about it. Culture and decades of marketing unhealthy food choices have made it almost impossible for us to understand the simplicity of most illnesses’ roots and poor bodily function.
But think about it in a logical manner. Our body is an amazing machine, an organic machine, but a machine at the end. Just like synthetic machines, it needs fuel to function. And depending on the type of fuel we give it, it’s function will be optimal or not. When we buy a new car for example, we are careful to give it only the best fuel available so it runs smoothly, so that the filters don’t get plugged as easily and we maintain it as best as possible. Well, our body should be the same.
Our organic machine, our bodies, are the vehicles that will carry our souls or essence for our chance here as humans. So we must maintain it with the best organic fuel. If we feed it inorganic choices, our filters and organs in charge of keeping and separating what we don’t need inside us (kidney, liver, lungs, pancreas, stomach, etc.) will become overloaded or plugged a lot easier than if we fuel it with substances that are easier to break down by our organs.
Moreover, we must think that our amazing organic machine has the ability to continuously regenerate itself and it replaces most cells and organs’ tissues; some of those in only five days! Pretty cool. So the choice is ours. How do we want our body to regenerate those cells? With organic, healthy matter, or with synthetic, overly processed choices that can affect the rest of our organs’ functions, creating tumors, or altering the cellular structure and functions of our vital organs.
Of course I did not know, nor practice this philosophy always. For a long time, I was one of the biggest contributors toward the fast food industry in New York City. I actually owe all this knowledge about food and nutrition to my one and only, my other half, my husband and best health coach ever, Henry.
While I lived in New York, and even though I was an athlete, my food choices were poor and they lacked any sort of real intention other than that of satisfying my hunger after endless hours of work, study or swimming and track practices. When you are that hungry and know nothing about how your cells are regenerating, or storing junk and poison in your body that can potentially become carcinogens, you don’t mind eating 5 Chicken sandwiches from the dollar menu or picking up Chinese fast food three or four times a week, or other quick fixes. You actually crave those tasty treats.
But after you know. After you find out that your skin cells change every week, your stomach lining regenerates itself every five days approximately, red blood cells more or less four months, etc, etc., and if you care enough, you start using logic. You start thinking about whether you want: 1) your cells to be made out of over processed chicken sandwiches, street hot dogs, greasy lo mein, or 2) you prefer instead, your fuel to become live, organic and natural alternatives that will not plug your arteries, get stuck in your intestines, block the pancreas channels or overload the liver and kidneys. It is then, that the choice becomes a blessing or a curse.
Choosing the first option is lethal. It is just a matter of time, until you are diagnosed with some sort of weird disease that Doctors still claim have no real cause. They just happen.
Choosing the second option, the live, organic and natural alternatives, is the blessing… Although the blessing is disguised at first during the transition period. Choosing this healthy alternative is the hardest, most exciting, fun and challenging thing you could ever do for yourself. Specially, if most people around you are not willing to support you or simply don’t care to understand.
Here is a list of 10 things you should do if you want to stick to the healthy choice. If you choose the unhealthy choice, stop reading the rest. It may only discourage you more from taking control of you body and health. It will show you that making a masterpiece of yourself is not easy, but it is rewarding at the end.
- Try to surround yourself only of positive people who respect your decision. Avoid all “the others.” You will feel isolated for a while, and if you are as social as I was, it will be hard. But know in your heart, that the people who stick around and support you, are your true friends, the other’s opinions do not really matter.
- If you live alone, throw away everything in your fridge and start fresh. Have fun at the supermarket choosing your own new choices. If you live with other people, assign yourself a space in the fridge and announce the rest not to mix your healthy choices with theirs if they are not supportive of your new adventure.
- If there are no healthy restaurants around you, and have no help at home for making meals, set aside from one to two hours a day to fix your own meals if you are single, or from two to five hours if you have a partner and children. I said this would not be easy. But you will have tons of fun creating meals and discovering lots of flavors.
- Cancel all your plans at restaurants for the first 21 days of you starting your new lifestyle. Watching others indulge on things you should avoid is torture. You don’t need that extra stress.
- Get in touch with someone who has done the change of lifestyle (like me) and ask for support and advice. Let them help you design your menu for the first seven days, 12 days or the entire 21 days.
- Read at least two health and diet articles daily to keep you motivated and educated about your new choices. Knowledge is power, and you will need empowerment.
- Expect questions from people who cannot understand you are determined to feel, look and be better. Most people may not know enough about healthy choices, others just want to annoy you. Don’t let them. Prepare to smile and retrieve if necessary before any confrontation. Negative people tend to try to change your mind.
- Did you ever read or watch, Eat, Pray and Love? Well, if you didn’t… just follow this advice: “smile with your kidneys, smile with your heart, smile with your whole body, just smile.” Specially when you start craving unhealthy choices. Keep in mind the change is for yourself and those very organs you are smiling with.
- Enjoy every bite of food you bring to your mouth. Taste it, and know that it is good and it is the best thing you can do for yourself. By the time you are done with the transition, you would have tried an incredible amount of variety in flavors and textures. Your culinary experience will only get better and better.
- Every morning when you look at yourself in the mirror, remind yourself, that no matter how tough it can be, you have control of your own body and how it will regenerate itself to make you feel, look and be better. Each day is a gift, gift yourself the best fuel to function the best way possible for as long as possible.
If you are strong, determined and you love challenges, I am sure you can make it though. Here I will share with you some pictures of the meals I have learned to prepare through the years. Eating healthy is a lot of fun and it is so much more delicious.
If I had known all these about diet when I was an athlete, I am sure my performance would have been at least 30 percent better.
As for enjoying each day, with its greens and its blues, its yellows and browns, the air on my face and the flavors I have learned to mix, well… I assure you, everything is so much more intense and special each day.