As many that follow the blog and social media pages know, I started August with a lot of changes to my eating. Yes, yet again I made a change to get back my health and fitness because I was tired of the pain. So often we commit whole hog and then we burn out because we find that it is something that is just too complicated to keep up for an extended period, whether it be due to schedule or lack of motivation. I mean let’s face it, when you start seeing amazing results you start allowing yourself little cheats. We all do it, I have been guilty myself and I’ll own every single morsel of it. Am I proud of all those moments, not necessarily, but I own it nonetheless. So at the beginning of our two-week cross-country vacation journey this year, my husband and I embarked on another life changing choice which affected how we approach food as a family unit. Today, almost a month later, I am very excited about the success we have had with that choice so far and how easy it is to make those changes when you commit as a single unit!
Food is Medicine – For our family the food is the medicine. As an athlete with an autoimmune disease, it is easy to make excuses, pop a pill and just say I can’t, I’m sick. But as the person with, what can be a debilitating disease, I know that the choice to be proactive about my disease and to make the proper changes to my diet and to listen to my body and take realistic rest days when needed, is key. It doesn’t mean that when I wake up and I just don’t feel like making the effort that I shouldn’t. Those are the days when I have to drop kick my butt outta bed and make that workout happen, but the refueling afterwards is key! You see, when I engage my muscles to work overtime it also creates inflammation in my body which then my body looks to my fueling source for the process to begin repairing itself. This is where my food changes are key to being the best I can be FOR ME! Every person is not the same and your body makeup is not the same. We all react differently to food choices and our bodies also react differently to exercise. For instance, I know from incorporating the changes in the last month that my body does not tolerate animal products or by-products. They create more inflammation for me and hinder my ability to recover properly and perform to my optimal ability. So to that I say, for me, Food Is Medicine!
It’s Genetic – Some professionals argue the point that we all have a pre-disposition to many things that affect us in life, from obesity to cancer. My family, both my mother and father’s family, have been plagued by many life-choice complications, but a lot have had to do with genetics too. From diabetes, liver cancer, lung cancer, melanoma and my autoimmune disease just to name a few. They come from an age that most of the country lived through the great depression when food was scarce and you ate whatever you had. As I think about society today, we are certainly in a struggling period of living paycheck to paycheck and feeding our families whatever we can get for our money on sale at our local supermarkets. Sometimes those choices are wonderful, but most of the time they are out of convenience. I grew up that way and I never thought twice about it. My mother is an amazing southern cook and I love her food still to this day even with my changes in diet, but I know at this stage in my life that I can no longer enjoy those things more than rare occasions. Again, I say, everyone is different and my choices help me to live pain-free.
Start them Young – My brother and sister-in-law have a little girl that they have kept on the unprocessed food train since she was a wee little one! It’s amazing, she doesn’t know what candy tastes like and she never asks for it. If you offer her something that she doesn’t know what it is she will politely decline because she already knows at a young age that she should question it. THAT IS AMAZING! Her little matabolism is working double time because she feeds her body with fresh unprocessed fuel. My eldest stepson, who just started his senior year of college (what an amazing young man!) has also decided that he wants to join his Dad and I on making changes for better health. As a young man who inherited a genetic heart issue, he knows also how important diet and exercise are to keeping him out of the doctor’s office. We were so excited that he spent a long weekend before returning to classes last week with us and started his clean eating plan. When he came back home last night he was giving us the update on dorm life and was excited to tell us that he searched and found a local farmers market near campus. SCORE! He’s doing it right and we are so happy for him. Here’s a picture of our two young Means’ making changes at dinner at a local Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant in Tallahassee last week.
Every step to make changes is a step, no matter how large or small. You can take baby steps or make leaps and bounds. For me it was taking one weekend to clean out the refrigerator, the next weekend to tackle the freezer and finally last weekend to clean up the pantry. I was so amazed at all the CRAP we had that we considered healthy options right at our finger tips. It showed me how much we depended on convenience in our eating and it was scary! Realistically and monetarily, we cannot restock all those items with the perfect choices at once, but we are working on making sure all the things we have readily available are never questioned in our minds before consuming them. I won’t lie though, I have found myself sniffing the aromatic goodness of fried chicken, but I haven’t consumed it.
So tell me, what are your challenges? What changes are you willing to make? How will you become a better you, FOR YOU!?!