by the way, can i just say how much i appreciate you guys who stop by? really!
for tonight's post, i thought i should give you guys some encouragement.
i had lunch today with a sweet family friend (at whole foods!) who got me thinking. she, like SO MANY other people i have talked to, said she wanted to "get" healthy, but it was such a big challenge she didn't know where to start. this always breaks my heart. i wish i could hug all these gorgeous girls (and guys) and let them know how manageable a healthy lifestyle is. it's like the silly inspirational message you hear...:
how do you eat an elephant?
one bite at a time.
you don't sit a kindergartener down with college textbooks, and you don't start a "healthy" life trying to grasp the big picture all at once. there's no way you could possibly predict the ripple-effect nutrition and exercise will have on you. that's a beauty in life... everyone is different. so after i read matt's list of benefits from going vegetarian, i started thinking... "what unexpected and unnoticed benefits am i reaping from a healthy life?"
think about it.
most people accept certain unsavory things as just "the way life is."
i used to feel this way about bloating, bad hair, and rosacea. for some, you may think you're just not a morning person because you're groggy, or that you are doomed with acne for life. but what if you didn't have to live with them? i felt the same way, until i sat down and evaluated my body, my emotions, my health, and my life. and guess what?
i've changed drastically since i started nourishing my body.
since i moved back home in '08, i have made a daily, conscious effort to improve my overall health - mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. and it's worked in ways i couldn't have imagined...
1. cravings/sugar: since i cut out added sugar, no longer am i plagued with INTENSE cravings for desserts. actually, i can't remember the last time i ate a true, junky sweet. this is nuts because i used to have to have my fix everyday (at least once!)... not so good for a hypoglycemic. never thought that would happen!
2. migraines/pms: sorry boys... but since i started eating clean, i barely skip a beat any day of the month. i used to have cramps so bad i would vomit, and thank GOD i'm free from those!
3. depression: in high school, i really struggled with this. it's a never ending cycle - feel depressed, eat like crap, feel like crap, be more depressed. i no longer suffer from depression, largely due (i believe) to a positive self-image from good choices.
physical benefits, baby!
1. hair/nails: as long as i can remember, i've been frustrated with brittle, beaten-up nails and split ends/frizzy hair. since i started taking the best vitamins and eating clean, problem solved!
2. skin: this was the BANE of my existence in high school. i had rosacea really bad, and that "chicken skin" bumps on the backs of my arms. i used to be so embarrased to wear a t-shirt in the summer, and people constantly asked me "what hapened to your arms!?!" both of these things are almost cleared up now, and i'm no scientist, but i could imagine the problem comes from chemical additives in packaged goods (our bodies cannot properly break down artificial "foods," so it comes out as irritation).
3. body composition: i cannot believe i'm writing this, but my bod has changed a lot since i changed what i ate. even though the calories and workouts are similar, my healthier food choices have helped me drop my body fat down a lot... proof?
i wear a bikini now. and feel ok.
i rest my case.
1. bloodwork: considering the challenges i face (fibromyalgia, hypoglycemia, hypothyroid, disordered endocrine function... blah blah blah), you would think my lab work would scream FREAK SHOW! it was actually frustrating how without fail, every doctor i went to during diagnosis would come back with my results calling me "the picture of health/couldn't find anything wrong with me." i now realize how blessed i am by this, when in all reality, i should have a corpse's bloodwork. i credit this to my healthy lifestyle.
2. family history: as you guys know, my beautiful mother fought (and conquered!) breast cancer a few years ago. i've also lost almost all my relatives to lung cancer, heart disease, or alzheimer's. i know that my future is in god's hands, so i don't fear my fate, but i take comfort in knowing that i am giving my body a fighting chance against my genetics. lifestyle plays a more prominant role in determining your future than your family history... so stay accountable, ladies!
1. satisfaction: this is probably my most shocking accomplishment i never expected to achieve. i can honestly say that i now feel free to choose any food i want. food isn't my master these days: if i want brownies, i'll have brownies. if i want an apple, i'll have an apple. i wish every woman could experience the freedom in there being no "good" and "bad" foods. and really, there's no better feeling than how you feel after kicking your own rear in the gym. that's confidence!
2. bond: after going through my teenage years emotionally distanced from my mother, i came home to help her recover her health after chemo through whole foods. i had no intentions to, but through this, we connected. it was a small thing at first, but it was the foot in the door that opened up my most cherished friendship. had we not both craved health in our lives, we may have missed the opportunity for a reunited relationship.
3. others: embracing healthy living has given me a common ground with so many beautiful people, including every one of you! without natural foods and fitness, i never would have dipped into blogging. what a waste that would be, right? i pray that my lifestyle grants me the opportunity to touch another's life in a small way everyday.
finally, the taste buds!
1. new experiences: i love this! whole foods instill a passion in me that cannot be quieted. i am constantly looking to for new products, cultures, and flavors to broaden my horizons. the S.A.D. (standard american diet) encourages monotony and dissatisfaction, but god created food to THRILL us.
2. creatin' in the kitchen: a miracle in itself, natural foods inspired me to learn how to cook! i am a firm believer in food as medicine, and also as love. and since i started working out, i needed to provide my body with wholesome fuel to keep it working at its best!
3. back to basics: since i've been eating clean, i've discovered things taste different than they used to! without being bombarded by chemical flavorings and additives daily, i can taste the actual flavor of the food. it's so nice to taste chocolate, fruit, and veggies and get the true essence of the food instead of tasting salt, sugar, and msg (can i get an amen?).
wow. that was a BEAST of a post.
i hope this helps you guys examine your own lives, and not take your healthy gifts for granted! we are so blessed by little surprises in our lives.
did i miss any benefits? anything that surprises you guys?