Tuesday, 25 April 2017

LESSONS LEARNED ON MY JOURNEY TO BEING HEALTHY

My relationship with food is complex. Especially during my younger years, it's more than just a sustenance to keep my body nourished. In my world, food means so many things. A bar of Cadbury milk chocolate is a reward after a long school day (to be consumed with my favourite Archie comics, no less). A spaghetti and spicy chicken thigh is the goal after my examination week. A mocha frappe is the 'break' after that all-nighter to finish our client's financial statements. Even just recently, I'd gladly succumb to a pasta and cheesecake combo on a Saturday coupled with a burger and chips on a Sunday, thinking that's just about normal.

Then I subscribed to Netflix. That's when things started to change.



By sheer chance, Netflix recommended a couple of movies for my leisure. Something like Fork Over Knives, Hungry for Change and Fed Up, among others. The wake up call began. I finally realised the gravity of the situation and how important it is to make that shift. It's so hard to encapsulate every mind boggling information in words so if you have a Netflix subscription... do yourself a favour and watch them. These movies are life changing for me. Well, I didn't wake up one morning and everything was different. However, I'd say these small, tiny changes are very helpful towards my goal: to get fit while not feeling deprived.

1. Start with I CAN. It's very easy to gawk and watch from the sidelines while your friends/family/celebrity inspiration gets into shape. It's also almost effortless to just give up and hide under the guise of I've always been like this type of thinking. There is a thin line between body acceptance and body improvement. You are strong. Your body can handle so many things much more than you can imagine. You can if you put your mind and heart to it. If your situation forces you to eat and live unhealthily, maybe it's time to step back and reassess your career, relationship, friends or even emotions.

Sometimes, it is not just what you eat. It's also what's eating you. -Hungry for Change

2. Remove the "I-am-old-therefore-I-need-to-go-on-a-diet" mentality. I get really sad whenever I hear things like these. You see, there's a stigma attached to these statements. That you are not young anymore so you cannot eat whatever you like to eat. If we start we this mindset, we're setting ourselves up for depression. Though there's a grain of truth in this, the bigger picture is hidden. Maybe it's more of: When we were younger, though we had a faster metabolism, we were not wise enough to live healthily. With age and experience (and money), you're in a better position to act. If you're still not aware, sugar the silent killer in today's society. And sugar does not only include those white crystal substance. It is everywhere: in soft drinks, fruit juices from tetra-packs, breads, pastas, white rice, etc. You'd be surprised how much sugar we consume in a day!

With sugar comes a whole heap of debilitating diseases like diabetes, cancer and the like. My jaw dropped when I saw this documentary: there are mice in the lab and after weeks of experiment they've concluded that sugar exhibits the same effect of cocaine in our brain. Hence the reason why we cannot stop eating it even if we know it's bad for us!

3. Food is your friend. Things that appear to be food... that's your enemy! How old is your food? Personally, it's been years that I have intentionally stopped eating at fast foods (Mc Donalds, Burger King, KFC, etc.). There's this one time that I've had an epiphany. How old is this burger and fries that I am eating? How long have they been in the freezer? How come an apple will go bad after some few days yet this 'meat' still looks okay? What chemicals are in this product? I realised that I am up to date with all the feeds on the internet but I kept out of touch with the very things I put from my hands to my mouth. I will never ask you to ditch the fast food habit if that's something that brings you happiness. All I ask of you is to sit down for 3 minutes and ask these questions truthfully...

"Really, how old is my food?"

4. Try to create a support system. There's no guarantee but I'd still suggest it: ask for help. I find it very hard to eat real food when the people around you do otherwise. I would be lying if I tell you I did it by myself. I have been blessed to have the support from the people from the office and even Gab. There's this one time that I have tried Les Mills 21 day detox diet. Heads up that I have committed only 7 days! Long story short my officemates and Gab joined me! Simply ask your loved ones to be considerate (meaning don't eat ice cream in front of you) and respect your decision to try a new eating habit. Who knows? You're just a chat away from your own #healthsquad!

5. Home cooked meals and desserts are the best! I can't even begin to tell you how satisfying cooking and baking from your own kitchen is. I promise you it's not hard as you think it is. I mean, coming from me who doesn't even know how to cook the simplest meal from 2 years ago... if I can do it so can you! Sometimes, it's not even cooking (just in case you find the word overwhelming) there are instances when you just assemble and mix the ingredients. This one, for example, is a broccoli and salmon teriyaki with red onions. Put a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and put in the red onion with a bit of soy sauce and honey (to taste). In the meantime, boil some water and once done, pour it over in another pan to cook your broccoli. After 10 minutes or so (depending on how you want your broccoli), remove them from the water and set aside. Pan fry your salmon with the seasonings of your choice (I use salt, pepper and garlic granules). Once done, chuck your broccoli and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Voila! Dinner is served.


6. Your body is designed to move. I avoided this truth for like, ten years. I tried so many fad diets in the hope that I can get the trimmed body I want without the hassle of exercise. Only trouble is the more I became sedentary, the more time I got to eat because I was bored. I eat not because I was hungry. I eat because there's nothing to do. Slowly but surely, that was when the fat piled up. I remember one time I was at BAYO (clothing store) and I was crying because the dress that I really, really wanted was too small for me. Imagine, I can't fit in an XL size? Oh, thinking about it makes me sad until now. Even then, I know I need to change but I can't. Because the lure of food is too much. And I still can't let go of the chocolate bars because as I said, it means more than that to me. Summer of 2016, I decided to try going to the gym. I tried running as well (not for me). Pilates too. It was awkward at first but I just showed up another day, then another and another. Before I knew it, I'm enjoying the Body Pump class and I got hooked!

7. When you fail, get up and try again. There will be times that you will fail, specially when you're just starting. It's common. You get an X mark at school sometimes. You fell when you first started riding a bike. Living healthy is no different. Do not beat yourself up because you gave in to that chocolate bar that you intensely crave for. Be kind to yourself. Imagine if someone is telling you: "You're fat and dumb and ugly." 24/7. I bet you'll slap that person in no time. But sometimes, that someone is you. We are the first to judge our body even in the slightest flaw. What about telling yourself that you are beautiful. And that curves is just a testament that you've been blessed in the past years with food. And after some few months those curves will be muscles. That it's just a matter of time. Look deep into your eyes and appreciate you for being you.

Be kind and speak beautiful things about your body.

8. If you can't measure it, you can't improve it. I haven't stepped into the scale for the longest. I am terrified because I project in my mind that it's always an addition never subtraction. But when I first went to the gym, I signed up for a health check. When I started the detox diet, I stepped on the scale too. You know what? It's not too bad. Sure you may see a number that you never hoped for but that's our starting point. If your pounds are not shedding, there might be some adjustments that need to be done. I'm happy to report that slowly but surely, the pounds are starting to come off! Last weekend, I went on shopping at Forever 21. I can't believe my eyes. For the very first time, I got a coat with the size XS! This is not most of the time though. But heck, that's one of my dreams! I am normally a medium size these days and it inspired me to continue this healthy lifestyle.



9. Good food means good skin. Admit it, since Cleopatra's time, people are obsessed over having great and even complexion. And this is another great by-product of eating real food. Backed up by science, eating highly processed food (think canned drinks, chips, greasy food, etc.) will result to premature wrinkles and skin ageing. Definitely not something we're looking forward to have, right? I don't like carrots before. And I don't love it until now. Ginger is another thing. These foods are very much an acquired taste. However, it's not too bad. Everyone is different. My workaround is to nutribullet the following: 3 small carrots, 1/2 inch ginger and 1 orange. Tip: Blend carrots and ginger first then using a strainer, sift the pulp to make a smooth juice. Then add the orange with its pulp and blend again. 🍊

10. An interesting story. Here's a Cherokee legend: A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other. One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear. The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?” The grandfather quietly replies... the one you feed. -CMK

Which wolf do you feed?


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