A journey, yes. I'm in my late twenties now and have never really found true health. Perhaps that's because I've never defined it entirely. Actually, I've been redefining it quite a bit lately.
You see, there was a time in my life where I though I considered myself 'healthy'. In my freshman year of high school, through borderline starvation and overexercising lost around 80 pounds and become a healthy weight. At 5'4" I was down to about 130 pounds. I stayed that way for about a year and then it slowly crept back on, sometimes off but mostly on in the last 10 years until I was a few pounds heavier than when before I had lost the weight. So, was I really healthy then? From all the information about nutrition and natural living I know now (and am constantly accruing) I would say no. My daily diet would consist of exactly this : a 'diet' breakfast shake with skim milk, for lunch a Lenders bagel with jam and maybe some carrots, for dinner - always a microwavable Lean Cuisine. This was not nutrition. It was empty energy, full of preservatives (have you ever seen a Lenders bagel mold?!?) and although I lost the weight, my body rejected these methods and I ultimately gained all the weight back.
In the last years after many MANY unsuccessful attempts at 'health', I was determined to do something different, make it work and last for my lifetime. I was ready for change and a new way of thinking. I became receptive to information. Thanks to the my access to knowledgeable health coaches I have learned invaluable information on what health actually is. And more importantly to heavily question my current way of living, which leads me to this post and perhaps the rebirth of my blog. Maybe 'Chapter 2.1' ha!
I'll have to start somewhere as there is much information to share - so let's begin with the fundamentals : nutrition and exercise. There will be a post later (very likely many posts) about my attempts to live a chemical-free life. We'll get to that.
My education in nutrition really started a few years ago, right in my workplace (and now you probably think I'm a bit nuts). Awarded one of the first rounds of training scholarships - yea, we have those - my trainer taught me a ton of knowledge about what I should be eating and drinking. Also that what was accepted in society was generally not all that good for me. Like low-fat or non-fat dairy which contains coloring additives that are known cause cancer. Dangerous preservatives and artificial additives, fragrances that you find everyday in food products. I think my real health journey started there, two years ago when I began questioning the way I was used to doing things. A great start - eating local veggies and meats if possible. I have been avoiding the center aisles of the grocery store for quite some time now because if a 'food' can hang out on a shelf for years and not spoil, it's really probably not all that safe to eat. Shopping at local farmer's markets and getting real (raw - unpasteurized) milk delivered to me fresh every week was excellent. Local meats have been sort of a challenge just because the are literally 2 to 3 times the price as grocery store meat. Local veggies have been a snap, with a full year of CSA (community supported agriculture) memberships from a good family friend MR Harvest in Grand Isle. They are at the Essex farmer's market if anyone wants to see the excellent produce they have.
This summer we (Noah & I) really took 'local' to a whole new level - from ground to plate in the same day. Investing a mere $50 in a 625 sq. ft. community garden plot and probably less than $100 in supplies (seeds, tools, etc.) we're now growing our own food - quite successfully I might add. The benefits of this have not only been nutrition, but a bonus amount of physical activity cultivating, weeding and planting. We have so much in that (not-so) small space : corn, peas, beans, broccoli, chard, kale, spinach, cukes, lettuce mix, squash, romaine, arugula, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, melons, basil...probably something I am forgetting here. But a lot - enough to sustain us for hopefully the summer, fall and winter. It has really been a joy and I am so thankful to have a partner in life that is not only on board with this, but really enjoys it as well.
Well that sums up nutrition as quickly as I could. I've lost nearly 30lbs in the last 3.5 months. So yes, I do pay close attention to what I eat. Portion sizes, calories, but more importantly the quality of my food. I am lucky enough to have a cafe at work that cooks (I think) 70% organic food - as local and as whole as possible. Now, here's the funny part. I am losing weight faster by eating nearly twice as many calories and exercising a bit less than I was when I lost all that weight in high school, and I'm more than 10 years older. I am sleeping more, I am happier. But a typical meal today would look like this : two hard boiled eggs & smoothie for breakfast, salmon, brown rice & asparagus for lunch and perhaps a pork chop and kale for dinner. Of course, I have to have my large glass of raw milk before bed. It's great nutrition and delicious. I eat when I'm hungry. This is so different than I was taught or thought how to lose weight - full fat foods (yup I use butter and olive oil all the time), splurging a little (maybe a few glasses of wine) now and then but making sure you are receiving very high-quality nutrition. Local is best, I can't stress that enough. Depending on how much I exercise I will eat 1300 - 1500 calories a day. I also exercise quite a bit, but a manageable amount. I actually really enjoy it - spin classes, walking, weights, Zumba, more spin, gardening. 4-5 hours minimum exercise which is especially important since I sit at a desk most of the day.
I have a way to go (in terms of cutting the chemicals out and losing more weight) but feel empowered and armed with all the right information. I'm writing this post not because I like to brag about my success - I'm a Leo so I kinda do - but because I wish I would've known all of this much, much earlier. Although I am still young, this process - this journey - will still be long, it will be hard, but in the end it will be entirely worth it.
So arm yourselves with information - question labels on everything you eat, drink or put on yourself. I had to start somewhere to get where I want to go. I'm getting somewhere. Many more posts to follow....