Life is all about choices. What we choose or do not choose shapes our lives. Even as a fitness professional, understanding nutritional concepts, and knowing the importance of cardio and strength training workouts are second nature to me. Three years ago I went on The Virgin Diet by JJ Virgin, – ate clean and never felt or looked better. By eliminating seven foods for 21 days, I gave my body a chance to detox and heal. I watched my energy increase, my focus become clearer, aches and pains disappear, and belly fat melt away effortlessly.
Once I completed the 21-day cycle, I added in one of the 7 foods at a time. Depending upon the food, I learned which foods my body could tolerate and which foods my body could not handle. It was amazing, sometimes I felt the effects – bloating, intestinal distress, or indigestion within hours, other foods would not affect me if I ate them now or then, yet if I ingested them several days in a row, I began to feel symptoms of distress. I won’t kid you, the first week of withdrawal symptoms – headaches, fatigue, constipation and irritability from eliminating sugar, caffeine, and wheat – was difficult – even though I ate relatively healthy, there was still a lot of “hidden” toxins in some of the foods I was eating. The variety of foods and recipes I discovered were delicious and became a part of my life. People would question me, or tease me or roll their eyes when I would order unsweetened ice tea or ask for my food prepared a certain way. Some would attempt to tease me with foods, bringing me “treats” because I was doing so well. For a long time, I was strong and didn’t let it bother me. I followed this plan faithfully for about 2 years.
In early 2015, I went through a very stressful period in my life. Not any one thing – just a lot of cumulative issues that all happened at once. For many years, I used food to cope during tough times. I have always been a stress eater. When feeling out of control of so many situations, I made some choices that were not in my best interest. I had a cookie here, some bread or ice cream there, and I got away with it – the side effects were minimal, the scale stayed the same and I convinced myself that my body could handle these foods regularly again. My body was using food – sugar and carbs to cope with the stress.
Well guess what – loaded nachos, a few cookies here and there, ice cream, pizza, bread and chai tea lattes – even when made with coconut milk, were not my friends. The sugars triggered an addiction in me and I craved more and more. As a few months went by, I found myself, gaining weight, feeling more tired, having a harder time focusing, and my body was aching again. I felt terrible. What was wrong with me.
Then it hit me – yes even as a fitness professional I can be a little slow sometimes – I wasn’t nourishing my body or mind anymore. I was reacting to my environment and not making choices that were good for me. I couldn’t make the stress disappear, however, I could make different choices that would negate the effects. The foods I was choosing may have helped short term, but long term they became another stressor.
In November, I again made a choice. Despite the short-term euphoric effects of the junk food I consumed, the toll it was taking on my body and mind were not worth it. It is a daily, hourly or sometimes minute by minute choice, however, I am breaking my addiction to sugar and carbs. I am refocused on clean eating, yes the withdrawal symptoms were not pretty, however, I made the choice that I am worth it. At 53, I want to be the best 53 that I can be and if in 8 months, I could take my body from feeling good to feeling lousy, I have the power to bring it back to a higher level of health. I made the choice to take myself to its healthiest potential – mind body and spirit in 2016. It is not easy – the holidays were difficult, yet I came thru six pounds lighter – yes I did have a few holiday treats, but when I noticed their adverse effects on my body, it was easier to say no.
In 8 weeks, I feel the difference and each day I am again fueling my body for the nutritional value of foods and acknowledge that eating junk food does not take away my stress, it only adds to it long term. I’ve learned that life is all about choice. What are you choosing today?