2014 was a nutritional growing period for the record books. I am not sure if I was ever more aware of the horrific relationship I developed with food and how much I did not understand about food. Like many troubled relationships, I found that it all boiled down to a three key elements; understanding, communication, and expectation.
In order to understand the growth that took place, let me tell you how it started. I grew up in a healthy household where I enjoyed home-cooked meals that were well balanced with fruits and vegetables. My mother was a full-on veggie lover who loved to exercise and always told me she was a “fat kid”. I did not understand how that was possible when I was a pretty skinny kid/teenager. Like most young people I did not really like the wide variety of vegetables that she did so I stayed very close to broccoli, green beans and salads but I could eat a whole pepperoni pizza and never gained weight. My friends called me “Ribs” in junior high school because you could see my ribs when I wore a bathing suit.
A major shift happened while I was in high school; my mom fell ill, and I turned into the dominate; bread
winner, shopper, and chef. Not old enough to understand the value of the substance and make up of our bodies, I went for a quick and easy route to food. The majority of the time that meant frozen and microwavable. A while later, I started to notice that I was gaining weight and feeling sluggish so I decided I was eating too much so I started taking diet pills to suppress my appetite and since I didn’t like coffee I would drink 2-3 energy drinks a day. My body was communicating that it needed fuel and expected nutrient rich food, but I did not understand. I was communicating that I wanted to look like the girls in the videos and magazines and expecting to slim down.
As a requirement for college I took a health class and I learned great information on what I needed to have a healthy well balanced diet and it helped in that I at least started eating. I ate salads and went back to frozen microwavable dishes and over cooked vegetables, but I still took diet pills and drank energy drinks and had developed a sugar addiction when I was stressed out. Dealing with my mother’s Multiple Sclerosis, going to college and working full time meant there was enough stress to go around, so the weight piled on. Then I visited my Uncle Dwayne before he was going into gastric bypass surgery and after not seeing me for ten years he had much wisdom to share on the unhealthy pathologies that our family shared with food. I spilled all the beans on what I was doing to myself, and he made me promise to stop with the diet pills and energy drinks. He never made it out of that surgery so I could not go back on that promise. Our conversation also took the blinders off to the world of weight problems that I only started to begin to understand. Years of unhealthy eating and stress had helped me to get up to 230 lbs. At only 5 feet 4 inches tall, something had to change, and it did!
Two of the best friends anyone could have taught me about food. This sounds funny and simple, but it was true. They helped me learn how to buy, cook, and eat healthy fresh, flavorful food. I learned optimal food combinations, portion control, and healthy sweet tooth alternatives. With the assistance of this wonderful support team, I started 2014 as a vegetarian who ate the rainbow of foods. I juiced fruits and vegetables as well as prepared my meals in advance to accommodate my busy schedule. I soon started feeling different, vibrant, healthy and alive. Mid-year I started eating fish and some small portions of meat, but I did not abuse my body the same way I previously had. I also kicked the habit of running to food when I felt stress. Moreover, through prayer, meditation and clear communication I have learned how to remove, avoid, and limit unhealthy stress. I have seen the needle on the scale go down which is nice but what is even more fulfilling is I know that I am well on my way to being healthier. I am being loving to my body, and it feels great!
The most important lessons I learned were very simple and could be applied to many different areas of life. The first and most valuable lesson I learned was: what you put in impacts what you get back. Like the adage “You are what you eat!” If you are loading yourself up with crap, you are going to feel like it. I started eating more foods that are grown on plants not manufactured in plants. The fresh fruits and vegetables that now occupy the majority of my dietary intake give me life, not a bunch of chemicals that I cannot pronounce and my body does not know how to break down. The second most valuable lesson that I learned was support and accountability is key. I didn’t feel alone with friends to talk to when I was going to fall off the bandwagon. We started sharing holidays together when we thought we were not strong enough to resist the heavy food our families prepared. Last but certainly not least I learned that I had to keep my diet flavorful and exciting, which took preparation and time. I had to learn to try different things and step outside my comfort zone. Subsequently, I realized that it was a great thing to invest time and energy in preparing my food. I remember when I was always rushing to get some food so I can do this or that but this revelation hit me like a ton of bricks, “If you keep running on fumes you are going to run out of fuel!”
My hope for you in this next year is that this somehow encourages you invest in yourself from the inside out. If you are looking for other ways to continue to revolutionize your diet or life in general take some time to check out our other blogs and/or contact us for your first coaching session. We dedicate every day of our lives to make a LifeonSprings Easy, Effective, Sustainable, and Enjoyable. Let’s thrive together in 2015!