Getting up every morning at 5 am, going to work for a few hours to teach yoga and then work a couple of more hours on my own personal yoga practice is not easy. By 11am I am exhausted and reward myself with a coconut water. Do you know how many times during my practice I say to myself, “If you get through this you can have a coconut water”? Seriously, I do it about 11 times each morning. Some people might think, “Coconut water is your reward? How about a piece of chocolate cake?” Well, yes, chocolate cake would be nice, but it would also cancel out all the hard work I just put it. So, coconut water it is.
Which comes to my next point about being healthy. Ugh! It’s so difficult to eat healthy. Really! I have been working with a nutritionist for about a year now to get my diet and weight to a place where I feel light and energized. Let’s just say I have never been fat, and I have been able to keep a healthy weight throughout my 42 years on this planet, but I have struggled with hardly eating at all in my 20s (5’6″ and 110 pounds) to stress and emotionally eating in my late 30s and 40s. My weight doesn’t swing, it’s usually pretty stable, but my energy levels are what I really notice most about the way I eat. It’s when my energy levels are low that I notice a pattern of how I eat.
About 7 years ago I stopped eating meat, with the exception of fish, which I eat about once every 1-2 weeks. Over the past year I have gradually cut out sugar and dramatically cut down on dairy. Which is so difficult because sugar is in EVERYTHING and well let’s face it, I love pizza. Without cheese, pizza is just bread and sauce. So I am seeking alternatives to that, like nut cheese and making my own gluten free crusts out of chickpea (garam) flour. And I gotta say, it’s pretty good.
So the first step I took towards changing my eating habits were addressing my emotional and stress binging, as well as some of my bad food habits like eating in front of the TV. Which I don’t like to do but find myself doing it anyway. Also, taking the time to really taste the food and not just gobble it down. Usually, I wait until I am so hungry that I’ll eat anything, and that was a bad habit.
The second step was giving up sugar. This was so hard. My body changed so much when I did this and I lost 8 pounds the first week. It wasn’t so much just sugar, I stopped eating white carbs, artificial sweeteners, dairy, caffeine and processed foods. The rule was if it had more than 4 ingredients, then you couldn’t eat it. I did this before Thanksgiving and I felt great, then fell off the wagon throughout the holidays and then did it again after Valentine’s day. But my husband started it right after New Year’s and has been off it since. He even gave up coffee when he normally drank 2-4 cups per day. The coffee maker in our house hasn’t been used since.
Now I am on what I like to call stage three. This stage includes green shakes and pretty much all fruits and vegetables. It has been so hard. But I could eat fruits and veggies all day long, and luckily throughout this stage you can. The one thing that has made me really want to stick to this type of diet is how much better I feel. I’ve only lost about 3 pounds during this stage, as I thought I would lose more, but it’s not about the weight. I’ve been reading this book The Green Foods Bible and when I learn how much junk has gone into the foods that we eat today, I am disgusted. For example, I was reading the other day that most of the “olive oil” that comes out of Italy today is FAKE! Yes, several tested were flavored and colored with chemicals to make it smell and look like olive oil. Can you believe that? How can the FDA let that happen?
Then, yesterday I read an article about those fast food pizza places. I mean, we all know it’s junk food, really, but the fact is that it’s NOT FOOD AT ALL! It’s all pretty much chemicals that trick your brain into thinking you are still hungry and that make the pizzas actually addictive. Not only that, these chemicals cause cancer cells to grow rapidly in the body. If you want to know more about the fast food pizza industry click here.
So, I have heard people complain about how expensive it is to eat healthy. Really? It’s more expensive to deal with having cancer. Think about it, not only medical bills but time off work, traveling to treatments, hotel stays, medicines. And to tell you the truth, buying produce at your local produce or farmers market is way cheaper than buying a grocery cart full of soda and processed foods. Drink water, it’s free! And you can get water filters that are about $10 which can last you a couple of months. On average Americans drink 44 gallons of soda per year. If you were to buy 2 liter bottles of soda all year you would spend about $132 on soda, but you don’t, so the average American probably spends more, not to mention the pollution those plastic bottles make. Which is much more expensive to your wallet and the planet than drinking filtered water from the tap.
Ok, so I know I am sounding a little judgmental, and most of you who will read this are pretty health conscious anyway. But what I am saying is that being healthy is really hard and not something that happens overnight. But when you look at the consequences of being sick, it’s worth the effort to go out of your way to get locally grown, organic if you can, fruits and vegetables. It’s worth it to take the time to plan your meals and really think about what you are putting into this one body you were given.
When you make these choices, you really feel better. I know I do, and all of the hard work that I have put in over the past year has been worth it. I feel lighter and more energetic. My yoga practice has definitely improved and I know that I am being kinder to the planet and to the animals who sacrifice and suffer so that the meat and dairy industry can thrive.
Anyway, this is just food for thought and I thought you might like to know where I am on my journey. Where are you on yours?